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Wiseguys — Adrian McDowall, 2012

As far back as he can remember, eleven-year-old William wanted to be a gangster. An homage to Scorsese's 'Goodfellas'.

Based on a true story, William always wanted to be a gangster and dreamed of the glamour and power it would bring. Along with his older brother Michael and their friend Bobby, they begin the business of delivering papers which quickly turns into a profitable racket. William soon has his wish and is living the high life as a ‘made’ man. But just as quickly as things were looking up for William, his schemes start to unravel and he has to decide if he can live with the guilt of the consequences or to turn his back on his gangster dreams and look towards earning an honest living.

Classroom Activities

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  • Watch the first 25 seconds. What do you think is in the white sheet?
  • Re-watch the first line William speaks (00:24 seconds). What impression does this give the audience?
  • What conventions of ‘Gangster Movie’ can you see throughout and what effect does this have on the film?
  • Watch the opening of ‘Wiseguys’ followed by the opening 5 minutes of ‘Goodfellas’. What similarities do you see?
  • Discuss the setting of the film. Where is this film set? Which decade was this film made and what gives you this impression?
  • What do you notice about the first line and the last line William speaks? What impression does this give us?
  • Watch from 05:25 – 06:30. Discuss the camera work used in these scenes and impact this has on the storytelling.
  • This film is typical of Scorsese’s style. What does this mean? What is Scorsese’s style and how can we see its influence in ‘Wiseguys’?
  • What is Auteurship and what impact can this have on a film?


  • This film is based on a true story. Many ‘gangster films’ are inspired by true events. Research the History of the Mafia. What was it like to be a gangster in the early days and to live under their rule?
  • Many young people have part-time jobs to earn some extra money. Research employment law for people under the age of 21.
  • Which decade do you think this film was set? Research what life was like for children growing up in the cities of Scotland during this time.
  • How many crimes were committed by William and his gang? Take part in a class debate; one group arguing that they should be punished for their crimes, the other group is to argue against this.
  • Research crime in your area. Present your findings on how crime impacts where you live and any trends you find.



  • Create a new job advert for Pauline to find a new delivery person – who is reliable!
  • Write a diary entry from the point of view of the McMillan twins.


  • When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grow up? Create your own short film script or storyboard, imagining you got the dream job you wanted when you were younger.


  • Gather up different newspaper headlines and stories from the UK and America about crime. Compare and contrast the differences and similarities in the headlines and how they are reported. Create a collage to display your work.


  • Create a soundtrack to your life. What 3 songs would you pick and why?


  • Research the role of a director and write a job description.
  • ‘Wiseguys’ pays homage to ‘Goodfellas’ and is created in the style of Martin Scorsese. Research Scorsese and create a fact-file.

Clip Details

Year of Production 2012
Genre Comedy
Curriculum Areas Literacy and English
Director Adrian McDowall
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Live Action, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Relationships, Culture / Society, Work / Ambition, Creative Expression
Clip Length 10:01
Clip Length 10:01
Age Group S1-S3