The man on the other end of the phone pauses as he weighs up the accolade. Earlier this year, Richard Jobson - punk singer, television presenter, male model, poet, film director - added doctor of arts to his portfolio when he was awarded an honorary degree by Napier University in Edinburgh. "I've never been big on titles," he eventually concedes, "but I think they wanted to give it to me for all the right reasons."
What would those reasons be, I wonder? An independent spirit, for sure (Jobson now makes his films without resource to public money). A personal and consistent artistic vision that carries through from the lyrics of his songs with The Skids to the philosophical bent of the screenplays of his genre-twisting movies. And, in the case of his latest film, a desire to work at the cutting-edge - Wayland's Song is the first-ever production to use Adobe Cloud technology to go all the way from scripting and scheduling, shooting and editing, to post-production effects and grading. Enough, surely, for academic recognition.
"Sometimes I feel a little bit ignored by my own country in that the festival in Edinburgh is not interested in showing any of my films," insists the man behind Sixteen Years Of Alcohol, A Woman In Winter and New Town Killers. "So I guess the Napier thing made me feel a little bit more - what's the word? - loved by the establishment rather than loathed. But do I care about the establishment? I'm not that bothered, to be honest."
At 52, there's still something of the old punk in Jobson; something, too, of the working-class boy who grew up in Fife, the son of a miner father and a mother who worked at Rosyth docks. That's one of the reasons why the premiere of Wayland's Song on Friday at the inaugural Kirkcaldy Film Festival is so appropriate.
I've got to come clean here and admit that I programmed the three-day festival. I jumped at the chance to screen Wayland's Song, not just because of the local connections of its talent (Jobson was born in Kirkcaldy and grew up nearby in Ballingry, as did the film's lead actor, Michael Nardone) but because thematically it speaks to a region whose young men have regularly been recruited by the British Army.
The film follows Wayland as he returns, mentally and physically scarred, from the war in Afghanistan. On his mobile phone he has an anguished voice message from his teenage daughter asking for help but, when he gets back home, she is nowhere to be found. Like a psychologically bruised PI in a classic film noir, Wayland stumbles from person to person, location to location, seeking clues as to his daughter's fate. Uncovering the truth will involve great personal sacrifice, painful flashbacks to the war - and a fair amount of violence.
"One of the conditions Wayland has from being in Afghanistan is epileptic seizures," Jobson explains. "That's something I've been trying to investigate in my films from the very beginning, the idea of the otherness that happens, because I also have that condition, and it's a very strange audio-visual experience - not very pleasant, I might add. It's a heightened sense of reality that doesn't feel very real at all.
"I wanted to introduce what that might be like for people because I've seen lots of attempts to do it, and it's always the same old thing: you see some guy shuddering about on the floor or something. So I've tried to explore it in a slightly more surreal way while also bringing him back to a world where nobody really gives a s*** about the horror of what he's seen. Nobody cares."
Like all of Jobson's films, Wayland's Song looks amazing, as its antihero travels through locations saturated in a single colour: the bleeding red of his alcoholic wife's living room, the sickly yellow of a hotel bedroom, the ice-cold blue of a space where he faces a female nemesis. It also, rather typically, takes a common film genre - in this case the noir thriller - and slows the pace down by adding philosophical and mythical baggage (the title makes reference to a Northern European myth about an armourer who wrecks vengeance on the King of Scandinavia's court).
"So you can read it as a revenge parable or you can read it as about the suppression of an art form," the director continues. "In my story, the art form is killing - that's what he does, ruthlessly, he's a sniper - and this is based on real people. My cousin is a sniper in the Special Forces, so I've been introduced to what he did in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's just basically a killing machine, killing 25 people a day or something. I wanted to take this guy who expresses his art form in a world where people are trying to manipulate him into doing what they want and need, and he fights against that."
When Jobson gets into his stride, noting that the UK public seems to have forgotten the men still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as Egypt and Syria have taken over the headlines, you can hear the passion in his argument. He sees these soldiers - many recruited from his Fife homeland, as was detailed in the National Theatre of Scotland's groundbreaking play Black Watch - as the latest in a long line of near neighbours.
He says: "If you take it right back to The Skids's songs - Into The Valley, The Saints Are Coming, Melancholy Soldiers, Working For The Yankee Dollar - they were all inspired by the fact that a lot of my friends in central Fife couldn't get jobs in 1975, '76, '77, and ended up in the British Army because that was the only thing available, because they were recruiting heavily in those mining communities.
"After a few weeks' training they were in the Andersonstown district or Shankhill Road in Northern Ireland, being introduced to the holy horrors of the Troubles. Being sent to conflicts changed people. These were normal, non-bigoted guys who just wanted a job; some of them came back from the Belfast experience as complete bigots, some of them deeply traumatised. And that's what I wrote those songs about when I was 16.
"So when the opportunity arose to work with an actor who comes from the same village as me in Fife, both of us born in Kirkcaldy, it suddenly made perfect sense. We wanted to set it in a fairly generic market town, which could be many parts of Britain, a place that basically turns its back on this guy coming home. He's obviously lost his soul in the killing fields of Helmand Province, and the way he can find it is by fixing his broken family. It's a kind of quest story, in the sense of a man searching for his soul - and he finds it, but he has to sacrifice himself. I guess if you look at all of my films, it's the same story - somebody sacrifices themselves in an attempt to fix something. That kind of heroic central character is always something that fascinates me, and Wayland fits into that mould quite perfectly."
Aside from what its story addresses, Wayland's Song has been creating a buzz because of the way it was made. Adobe came on board early on, providing the micro-budgeted film with some indirect funding and software technology. Ultimately, the entire film wasn't made with a physical software product, but remotely - in the cloud. Jobson has now found himself travelling the world (and appearing to potentially millions of online viewers) explaining how the Adobe process worked in the particular case of his film.
"Adobe see the future as being people making films like Wayland's Song - ambitious, with high production values, full of really interesting effects, using 3D modelling as well as compositing, beautifully graded," he enthuses. As an example, Jobson tells me how the software allowed him to increase the colour and intensity of Michael Nardone's blue eyes. "He's in every shot in the film and we did that because we thought his eyes were disappearing, so we 'blued' them up a bit, so to speak. That kind of detail is something that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in its previous incarnation, but we're part of a generation now that can do that."
This is a big deal for such a supposedly small movie. The establishment should duly take note.
Wayland's Song screens on Friday at the Adam Smith Theatre as part of the Kirkcaldy Film Festival followed by a Q&A with Richard Jobson; it then goes on selected cinema release, with DVD out on September 30. For the full festival programme, which also includes The Skids Live 2010 concert film, see www.onfife.com/node/5345 and www.facebook.com/kirkcaldyfilmfestival?fref=ts