Let me transport you into the craziest three days I have ever experienced.
As a writer and film director, those exhausting, humorous and rewarding days were both torture and blessing. I learned lessons like:
- never walk through a highland forest by night (spoiler alert: it’s pitch dark)
- Glencoe village inhabitants are like family and enjoy the occasional evening bus ride
- midgies are a plague that cannot be defeated
- London can look exactly like Scotland in the right angle
I arrived a day earlier to scout the locations, my poor crew & cast finally followed suit late at night, exhausted from the long bus ride from London, unable to appreciate the beauty of the highlands in the darkness.
I had an extraordinary ride myself where I returned the rental car in the nearby Fort William and barely managed to take the last bus to Glencoe, a ride that felt more like a nice family reunion. As I had driven the car through the forest earlier that day, I knew that there was not one street light to illuminate my path me when I had to return by night to our hostel – by foot. The Highlands greeted by with more insecurity than I already had as a young director.
The morning started promising. We marched to the Glencoe mountains where famous film scenes from Braveheart and James Bond have been shot, to follow suit and shoot our first scene (secretly hoping to acquire the same fame). The wind restlessly blew around our ears while at the nearby parking side a man in a traditional kilt was playing the bagpipes. I felt like William Wallace already. Especially exciting turned out to be our “epic drone shot” as everybody came to call it.
From here, we went to a nearby secluded mountain bothy that stood at a stunning backdrop of the Glencoe mountains – a panorama that one had trouble believing was real.
The stunt coordinator had arrived and was preparing the actors for the stunt scenes with the soldiers. These, by the way, were crew members, who had the time of their lives learning how to fight on camera.
The wind had ceased by now.
We shot the wide scenes at the cabin when suddenly, an unforeseen plague of parasites infested us like the Egyptians – midges. How else can I describe midges but tiny little vampires the size of a breadcrumb? They come like a horde and befall everything that has a warmer temperature than the 15 degrees of the Scottish Highlands. There was no escaping them. No spray, to shield, nothing.
We had to wrap up before we could get all the shots, in the hope the plague would subside in the morning. It didn’t.
Without any solution yet, we moved on to the next location – a former military airbase in the southwest of Scotland. As this was a night shoot, we began with the inside shots and moved outside as soon as it grew dark.
The crew was enthusiastic but exhausted by now.
The D.O.P. made an amazing job of lighting both interior and exterior. We could even ignite some fires in barrels. The rest was inserted in postproduction.
Let’s see if you can tell that the close-up shots at the cabin were actually shot in a park in London? You’ll be amazed at what film magic can do.
Those three days have been exhausting. But during this time, we produced amazing imagery, met incredible people and learned a lot about film production and adventure.
Now here’s the result: