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Making Movies II

Despite the snow, I made it to Stirling for 7:30 on Wednesday morning, a feat the National Rail Enquiries website had assured me was impossible from where I started. Pickering 1, Bloatware 0.

It being my first time doing anything like this, I assumed personal photography would be verboten on set, and didn't bother taking a camera. In reality, the whole moviemaking operation was effectively a temporary addition to the Stirling Castle tourist trail, and we were surrounded for much of the day by school parties and other onlookers happily snapping away. Plenty of my fellow extras were following suit (and there's something very surreal about the sight of a top-hatted Georgian gentleman adjusting the focus on a digital SLR), and as long as they weren't actually in shot at the time, nobody seemed to mind.

I did have a sketchbook with me, but I only managed to fill a few pages: even lightning sketches like these take longer to pull off than you can guarantee you'll have when you might be mustering into position at a moment's notice:

And we were actually kept surprisingly busy – yes, there was a lot of standing around, in or out of camera range, between takes or waiting for cues; but for most of us there were only a few periods through the day where we weren't needed at all and could go and sit down for half an hour or so. And most of the time we were at least in sight of the filming, so lack of documentary evidence notwithstanding, I had a great time.

For Edinburgh the following day, I did bring my camera. Unfortunately that was more like the sort of day showbiz memoirs warn you about: hours on end of sitting in a church basement while the interesting stuff happens elsewhere, followed by another couple of hours standing under a golf umbrella so my costume didn't get rained on between takes. Merchant Street, an odd, gloomy little nook underneath George IV Bridge, is almost tailormade as a film set, but it's an order of magnitude more confined than the courtyard of James IV's gaff, with far less space behind any given camera position for extraneous people to mooch about in, especially with horse-carriages trying to manoeuvre around. After a few false alarms, I was only eventually called into service around ten o'clock, so for me it was a relief to be finally doing something; but I could tell that for the crew who'd been slogging away in the rain since early afternoon, this was not exactly the best fun they'd had in months. Hats off to Stevie, Liam, Ellie and the rest for their patience and courtesy towards dillettante numpties like moi.

Onlookers from the bridge or Candlemaker Row would thus have had far more opportunity than I did to document the actual filming, but I did take a few snaps while waiting around inside. Hi to Fiona, Derek, James, Stuart, Dave, Patrick, and all the other extras, makeup girls and costumiers whose names I didn't catch.

Yes, he knows he looks like Noddy bloody Holder!

James from Stirling reads the graphic novel.

Stuart porte les pantalons fantastique. Shame he had to wear that coat over them.

When makeup girls get bored.

Lunchtime (i.e. 8:30pm or thereabouts) at Dropkick Murphy's. Even with the electric lights and Sky Sports blazing overhead, it kinda works.

I'm done, and the production now rolls on without me. My involvement was an in-joke all along anyway, and I'm fine with that. It's not the film of the book, it's not a documentary, it's a John Landis movie and that's plenty to be going on with. It's going to be great in ways that don't tread on our toes at all.

But you better believe we're going to a reprint in time for it hitting the cinema. We're not idiots.


Making Movies

John Landis' Burke and Hare film is shooting in Stirling and Edinburgh this week. The Moving Image website has set photos.

Your humble correspondent is joining the fun tomorrow. Or rather Thursday. No, it's tomorrow again now. Ah, the joys of agency work!

It beats reading barcodes with the naked eye, though. Anyone who knows me well will confirm that I could happily dress like this all the time.



"I had a wish to be an artist. Was that not mad of me? I had this work of art I wanted to make, don't ask me what it was, I don't know; something epic, mibby, with the variety of facts and the clarity of fancies and all of it seen in pictures with a queer morbid intense colour of their own, mibby a gigantic mural or illustrated book or even a film. I don't know what it would have been, but I knew how to get ready to make it. I had to read poetry and hear music and study philosophy and write and draw and paint. I had to learn how things and people felt and were made and behaved and how the human body worked and its appearance and proportions in different situations. In fact, I had to eat the bloody moon!"

"Duncan, remember what your headmaster said! In four years you can be head librarian in some small country town and then you can make yourself an artist. Surely a real artist could wait four years?"

"I don't know if he could. I know that none ever did. People in Scotland have a queer idea of the arts. They think you can be an artist in your spare time, though nobody expects you to be a spare-time dustman, engineer, lawyer or brain surgeon. As for this library in a quiet country place, it sounds hellishly like Heaven, or a thousand pounds in the bank, or a cottage with roses round the door, or the other imaginary carrots that human donkeys are shown to entice them to all kinds of nasty muck."
- Alasdair Gray, Lanark