Close Up: Made in Scotland - Part Two
From Scotland’s gothic capital to the Highlands and Islands Scotland has provided dramatic scenery for nature documentaries and atmospheric cityscapes for a wide range of productions. The people that help make all that happen have spoken to us about the world of the film office.
We caught up with Richard Bodsworth from Film Edinburgh
Your job title is Film Assistant at Film Edinburgh. Can you explain what this means on a daily basis?
On a day-to-day basis my job consists of taking enquiries from filmmakers, visiting new locations, updating social media and communications. On our website we have a production guide of local crew, production companies and facilities so that also needs to be kept updated.
Edinburgh Castle © Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam
What is the view from your office like?
We are located in the heart of Edinburgh and while not quite in view from the office window, Edinburgh Castle is right on the corner of our street.
How far does your area cover? What sort of locations does this include?
We cover Edinburgh city, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders. These areas offer such a wide variety of locations including city townhouses, historic castles like Edinburgh and Tantallon, mansion houses and stately homes including Gosford and Hopetoun as well as some stunning coastlines like St Abbs Head.
Locations often ‘stand in’ for other places/other times – what is the most surprising location that your area has stood in for?
We recently had The Secret Agent filming for BBC One. They transformed the Old Town Edinburgh streets to double as Victorian London. The production team did a fantastic job - it looked and felt as if you were standing in 19th century Soho.
What are the most commonly asked questions that your office deals with?
The most common questions are really about locations: where and how can I film. We work on behalf of the Councils of Edinburgh, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders to attract and facilitate film / TV production in these counties. In a nutshell, this means building an extensive database of potential locations across the region and working closely with the council to set up film-friendly protocols so that when filmmakers want to film here they can do so without difficulties. We work from a script or a location breakdown and send photos to filmmakers of all the locations that might work for their production. We also liase with various departments of the councils, Police Scotland and provide contacts needed if shoots require parking, road closures, police personnel or street furniture removal.
St. Giles Cathedral © Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam
Is there a genre of production that tends to work with your office more than others?
While we do work with feature films and TV dramas, T2: Trainspotting, Churchill and Clique have all shot extensively in the area recently, the majority of our enquiries come from television documentary crews. Filmmakers tend to be attracted to the great general views the likes of Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat in the Capital have to offer. We also often work with production companies on corporate and commercial shoots.
What’s the most unusual request your office has had?
The requests are probably more extra specific than unusual I would say. One request recently was for a TV documentary that required a sink to be precisely in a certain position. I spent my whole day looking at photographs of kitchen sinks until I found something. Location owners often find this funny when we call them and tell them a production wants to use their toilet or something.
For filmmakers approaching location work for the first time what advice would you give them?
Respect the location would probably be my first piece of advice. It can also trickle down and stop future productions being able to use locations pushing them to different areas. We’ve lost a few locations from our database due to bad location management. It’s a fine line to balance everything.
Scott Monument © Visit Scotland / Kenny Lam
Are there other resources that you offer?
As well as locations, we also have our production guide for crew and facilities online.
How did you get into your line of work?
I actually started by brass necking it on to a production as a Locations Assistant. They were filming a BBC drama outside of my house and I managed to chat my way into a role on the team. I was chatting to a Floor Runner and he said I should put my details on the Film Edinburgh website. When I went online Rosie (Film Manager) was advertising for an assistant in the office. I think I called the office, sent in a CV and had an interview all the same day. I think showing enthusiasm and taking opportunities when they arise would be my best advice.
What is the best thing about your job?
Getting to work on and with productions of such a large scale and seeing the city on the screen.