Friday, 11 April 2014

Outlandish week

Canny Caitriots!

Well thanks to Outlander I'm getting to see parts of my beautiful country that I've always wanted to see and some bits I'd passed for years without noticing.  

For instance on Wednesday 2nd April, I drove up the A9 for the first time which was not as daunting as I thought it would be however  I was slightly disturbed by the man drying his underwear at the side of the road. I've since found out he's been there since last summer! (They must have been really wet! ;)

I was wearing my newly acquired Caitriots t-shirt and heading to Newtonmore to meet up with some lovely Outlander fans with the hope of seeing some filming and to chat to our chums in the security and crew. I've been getting to know them both face to face and on Twitter.  I met Sinéad, Joni and Lisa who'd all come from Inverness and we were planning to meet up with Simone, Stephenie, Tasha and Emma a little later (they were driving up from Stirling).

We knew they'd been filming in the Highland Folk Museum but on arrival we found they'd moved on. We decided to head to Aviemore with hopes of finding a clue and on the way spotted some pink location signs. We followed them down a forest path and eventually came across our old friend Gary1 (@gmcmason2003) who I first met in Doune (and since seen at Culross and Blackness). He stopped us and explained we'd have to park somewhere back up the track and walk back down.  We understood completely and found an area that didn't block the road. 

Now it has somehow become a tradition (I look at Stephenie) to bring some home baking to the set when we visit. It started with Emma and Elaine bringing sweeties for the security at Doune and Steph started making whisky fudge. Since then we've all started to bring baking (I've never been a baker but I'm learning!) and this day I'd brought some rock buns. When we got out of the car and opened the boot to get Joni's baking out I couldn't believe my eyes! Big trays all covered in foil and clearly labelled. Even more impressive, gluten free! 

Weighed down we walked down the forest path to chat to Gary1. We took care not to make too much noise in case filming was near by but we were told it was OK.  As soon as we got there Gary1 explained that today we'd have to stay where we were and maybe we'd see people heading back to the camp. He kindly got a sheet out the back of his car and we settled down in the glorious sunshine that had broken through the clouds. The views were spectacular. 

Other visitors to the area had come to hike and were doing so in the background and near where they were filming.  There's also a right to roam law in Scotland and we often joke with security, "what would you do if...".  Let me stress joke.  We are there as fans of the show and have no intention whatsoever in disrupting any filming or preparation.  We listened to what Gary1 said and stayed put, happy to chat to him and other crew that were hanging around.  There was even a crew dog that took quite an interest in the baking!

While waiting for the Stirling carload to find us we shared some of the baking with the gathered crew including Kenny (@d67twitt), one of the drivers. It turned out the Stirling car had taken a wrong turning and they were slightly lost.  Just as I was sending a text saying that we couldn't see anything and not to worry, a Land Rover drove past with Cait in the front. I smiled as she turned to see the strange image of us picnicking at the side of the road, surrounded by foil covered platters among the heather.  Cait was taken down to her trailer for lunch and as it turned out a costume change.

About ten minutes after that the Stirling crew arrived.  It turned out they bumped into a journalist along the way, had their photos taken and were interviewed!  The ladies had also brought some baking so we asked the guys if they'd take it down for us which which they kindly did.  Not long after Matt and Maril came up from the camp and stopped the 4x4 and jumped out.  They always wonder how we find them (answer: Outlander underground network of spies!) and thanked us for the support and the goodies.  Matt then took a picture of Maril and the group of us together.  Who knows maybe one day it'll appear on Matt's "photo of the day".  There were more smiles and thanks as they explained it was a tight schedule today and head to head back to the set.

A while after that and Cait's 4x4 came up the road and she too got out to thank us.  I have to admit to being a little giddy as I'd hoped to see or meet her from the start.  She got out of the car and pointed to Sinéad and I saying she liked the t-shirts.  She gave Sinéad a big hug and asked her which part of Ireland she was from.  I also got a hug and she turned and thanked all of us for the baking, especially the glutten free banoffee cakes that Joni had made.

Brief aside to describe what I can remember of the outfit.  It was a dress (full length) made from a woven material with greens, browns and a think a fleck of yellow through it.  It was predominately green.  The top half almost looked like a separate jacket and came to two sharp points below the waistline.  Her hair had been changed from a bun to quite tight ringlets.  The curls weren't brushed out.  They really bounced!  I think she was also wearing a head band of some sort but I was actually too close to see! ;)

Cait chatted to us briefly and jumped back into the car to leave.  Just as Sinéad and I turned to go back to the picnic area I realised we'd forgotten to ask if we could get our magazines signed.  I mimed the signing to Cait and she shouted we'd have to be quick.  We grabbed them and ran over.  She was lovely and signed them then headed off to set.  What a lovely lady.  (Yes I'm still giddy!)

As we'd failed to bring any lunch, we all decided to head back into Aviemore to get something to eat.  We found the base camp at the place we'd decided to eat and chatted to the security there for a while (I think they even got some baking that was leftover! ;) after we'd had lunch and then headed our separate ways back down the road.

The weather was lovely, the views spectacular and the company fabulous!

Some Tweets from the day:

Fiendish Fifers!

And so it did occur that pink signs were spotted in Fife not far from Baxters shop and once more the Outlandish Bakers took up their beaters, broke some eggs and got baking!

Another holiday off work and another road trip.  This time I was picking up Steph and Jennifer (over on holiday from Canada) at the railway station and meeting Simone, Nicki, Karin, Lisa, Wendy and Audrey at the Baxters shop.

Turns out the Baxters shop was base camp.  When we arrived we went over and spoke to Gary2 and Greig.  Of course they were handed some baking for them and the themselves and the drivers.  They let us know that Gary1 was at the Extras location and that we could follow the signs and see how far we got.  So we did.  We headed up a country road and found Mystery Security man (some say his name is Homer, this is unconfirmed) and spoke to him.  He was unsure whether we were able to go any further and radioed up to the site to check.  He was told as it was private land we weren't allowed any further.  Not so lucky today then.  We understood the situation, offered him some baking (he refused, so I doubt his name is Homer!) and headed back to base camp.  

On route we decided to pop in and see Gary1 at the extras camp.  It was only a 4 mile detour after all.  He was happy to see us as it wasn't the most exciting place to guard once everyone had left.  We introduced him to Nicki and Jennifer and he warned them of our antics and regaled them of our shenanigans at Blackness.  (We nearly got caught by the tide while playing on the rocks!).  Realising that Lisa and Wendy were at Baxters and waiting to see us, we left some more baking with Gary1 and headed back.

We met Lisa and Wendy sadly just as they were leaving.  They'd also brought baking and with us handed it over to Greig and Gary2 and asked if they'd see the cast and crew got some.  We then had lunch in the Baxters restaurant. Just as we were finishing Karin arrived. Mr Tumbledrierfixer never turned up. 

After lunch we headed back out into the rain (did I mention the rain?) and met Audrey who asked what the state of play was and we explained that it was a day of chatting to the crew, as the filming was out of bounds (it usually is tbh!).  It should be pointed out that Jennifer, Nicki, Karin and Audrey hadn't ever been to the set before and some of us had met before but it was lovely to see new faces.  Brave ladies!  As always we get on and have a lovely time. 

We stuck around a while longer and chatted to the drivers including Kenny.  We told him of our plan to create a recipe book for charity and asked him which charity the drivers would like to nominate.  He had some ideas and will let us know.

As the weather wasn't great and some of us had to get back (esp. Steph!) we departed mid-afternoon bidding fond farewells to the crew.

Some Tweets from the day:

Please note:

Understandably some fans are concerned that we are disrupting the production and are an unwanted intrusion.  We always approach the security first and ask them what the state of play is for the day.  We take our guidance from them.  We sit patiently and if we do spy a cast member we might smile or if overcome with emotion, wave.  I've included the quotes of the Tweets from the day not to brag but to point out that the baking and treats are welcomed and appreciated. 

I've been so impressed with the Outlander fandom's foresight to make something positive out of the joint love shared of the Outlander world and raise money for charity. As mentioned above we are hoping to continue in that spirit and will be announcing the recipe book and perhaps more soon. We share our experiences as we know so many are interested in what is going on. 

We are always aware that one silly misbehaviour could ruin it for others.  Please be assured should we ever be asked to leave or stop turning up, as disappointed as we would be, we would. Meanwhile please get sending in your recipes and tune in for the next adventures of the Outlandish Bakers!  Where shall we meet again?  Who knows but what I do know is that no matter the weather, there will be smiles, fun, and of course baking!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Things Simone and I learnt at Culross today.

1) wear thermals on the lower half!

2) it's inevitable that if you stand in one place for 3 hours in wind and rain hoping to see something, the minute you give up, you'll miss it!

3) Matt Roberts looks just like his Twitter avatar. ;) 

4) The drivers and security are very generous with sweeties and lollipops!

5) A woman called Ann (or that was her characters name) was ushered past us to set. (She was more than just an extra, we saw her chair being moved later ;)

6) they filmed the ear nailing scene and wrapped that at 4pm. 

7) we worked out due to the chairs we saw getting moved and the fact we knew Cait and Graham were remaining on set that they were also filming the scene where Dougal takes Claire to see Black Jack at the inn.   We know this cos we saw Jack's chair ;)

8) This scene was filmed at Culross Palace.  Around the corner from the market square. 

9) you always end up staying far longer than you intend!

10) Filming stops this Friday until the new year. (Thank heavens as my feet might have warmed up by then!) ;)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Outlandish day at Doune!

Well third time was the charm! I finally got to see some Outlander (Starz) filming today.

I'd agreed to meet Simone in the morning (we met for the first time 2 weeks ago on a failed attempt at catching some filming at Doune ;). On arrival I was in need of the facilities so headed down to Doune Castle as the public toilets has been open previously.  Simone waited outside and when I came back out she was rather giddy as Sam Heughan (Outlander's male lead) had just gone into the building.  As we were talking he came back out.  As he was heading to set we kept quiet but had a good gander!  Very tall, shaggy hair, auburn, and just a wee bit of stubble along the jaw line.  He was wearing the same outfit that was used in the promo shot.  Just after that one of the security men came over and asked us to move on. Simone reported the close encounter on the Heughan's Heughligan's facebook group :)

We headed up to the wooded hill (security said it was OK to stand up there) and had a great view of the filming area.  They were using the grassy ground to the left of the castle.  So glad I brought my binoculars along (a stalker is always prepared)! ;)  We'd been asked not to take photos so no pics I'm of the day I'm afraid.  It was also pretty far away for my compact anyway.  Below is a picture I took before production started on the site (the transformation is amazing).

I'm not sure how much I should describe of the filming as I don't want to upset production (even though it was publicly viewable) but it seemed to involve most of the Leoch inhabitants (Jamie included) which included approx. 40 (perhaps more) extras (children, adults, male female, house hold and military looking).  It's a 'new' scene, not in the books.  The scene was very 'active' as Graham MacTavish tweeted about.  It seemed to help keep them warm for some of the time at least. ;)

Have to say that Graham's stunt double looks very like him.  I was wondering why there were two Dougal's at one point ;)  No stunt double for Sam though ;)  Unfortunately Caitriona Balfe wasn't on set but we can't have everything! ;)  (Oooh lots of winky smiles in that, I might still be a bit excited ;)

Simone and I watched one shot of the scene being filmed then headed off to get something to eat.  We returned about an hour later.  Poor Simone's back was playing up so she was going to leave but she came for a last look ;)  While we were viewing Elaine and her sister Emma turned up.  They'd come over from Stirling for a quick look.  They appreciated a loan of my binoculars (a stalker is always prepared! ;) and got quite excited a their first glimpse of Jamie.  He isn't hard to spot in the crowd as he stands a good head and shoulders above the rest.  Does that mean he's tall or the hired everyone else short?  I'll leave you to decide! ;) 

Elaine and Emma couldn't stay long and they headed off. Simone followed suit which left me gazing over the scene below.  I really hadn't planned to stay long but ended up there until 5pm!  They were finishing off the particular scene with a final shot (it had been shot from various angles etc. throughout the day) and it was getting pretty dark.  I'd heard they'd be moving into the castle courtyard to do some pickups and then that was them finished filming at Doune until they return in the Spring.  I'd heard that overall production (or maybe just outside filming) was halting mid December until mid January.

The costumes are amazing.  Great work coming from @outlandercostum 's department. They're all muted, natural tones.  Really blending with the autumnal colours in the countryside at the moment. 

I have nothing but great admiration and appreciation for the work the cast, crew and extras are putting into this show.  It was a bitter day at Doune with an icy wind but they were out there for hours filming away.  I've heard it said before but film making includes a lot of hanging around.  They'd do one shot a few times then there would be a lot of waiting around while the camera was moved and setup and then another shot would be done multiple times with a bit of rehearsal in between.  Obviously the principals were quickly into their quilted jackets between takes but "props with a pulse" (extras) were standing in kilts and jackets.  They all seemed to be wearing smiles between takes though ;)  I was wearing multiple layers but still ended up numb by the end of the day.

Obviously a highlight of the day was getting to see Jamie in action but for me even more so was getting to see the production in full flow and getting to meet other fans (Simone, Elaine and Emma) and chat to the locals who were dropping by to have a look and the security crew who were great.

I'd like to thank the security guys, especially Gary and Kev.  They were so polite, friendly and approachable.  They appreciated the enthusiasm the fans had toward the production and managed to accommodate us as best they could while ensuring our safety in the area (there were a lot of cars etc going back and forth) and the security of the cast and crew (far more important!).  We were very much aware that if we behaved and followed their instructions we'd be allowed to stay where we were and it wouldn't ruin it for others at future locations.  If we'd pushed our luck and tried photos or creeping where we shouldn't then that just ruins for ourselves on the day and for anyone else that visits a location as they're bound to beef up security. 

I was so grateful to get to stand and watch all day from my vantage point.  At one point some ADs spotted me and called to security concerned I was press and taking photos/videoing because they'd seen my binoculars but because I'd been upfront with the security early in the day and asked if it was okay to use them etc. they were able to explain who I was and that it was okay. 

Oh and a very special thanks to Gary who gallantly gave me his pocket warmers (they look like teabags but cosy your pockets/gloves) as he could see I was a bit frozen when I went to say goodbye to him at the end of the day!  They're still toasty now! 

So my third day off work and another hours drive to Doune was very much worth it.    Where to next?  For them it's Glasgow for 3 days, for me well hmm...might have to book some time off work in the Spring for the return to Doune! ;)

Friday, 14 June 2013

Game of Thrones Expo - Belfast


A week ago I'd arrived in Belfast Friday lunch time.  Checked into the hotel which was next door to the Titanic Centre and headed over to print of my tickets and see what was happening.  I could see the GoT Expo staff on the ground floor and figured my suspicions of the GoT press party being held in the Titan Centre were correct.  I agreed to meet @aka_Qthulhu early evening to catch the guests as the went in.

Sir Ben
6pm arrived and we were waiting patiently outside the Titanic Centre.  We met @Suzitothefuture and her brother and got chatting.  While waiting  we saw on Twitter that the actors were starting to leave for the party.  We started to get excited but were a little surprised that there were only 4 of us there.  Well when @DiscoverNI started to post photos of the actors arriving at the party we started to suspect we might of got it wrong!

While discussing what to do next a silver car pulled up and Sir Ben Kingsley got out and walked in to the GoT Expo.  Of course we started speculating what that might mean!  Didn't take long for Twitter to inform us that he's filming Our Robot Overlords in Belfast at the moment.  I still think he'll be visiting Westeros soon ;)

We spent the rest of the night wandering the streets of Belfast trying to find the party by identifying the windows in the back of the press photos!  Not surprisingly we failed :(  Not only that but @Suzitothefuture became the walking wounded due to new shoes.  By the end of the evening we'd discovered the party was in an old jail! HBO taking no chances!

A quick stop to pick up a Fabio pizza and it was time to head back to the hotel.


@RuralInsanity and @SerMountainGoat were flying in and joining us, Pod and Ian at 11am to tour the Game of Thrones Exhibition.  As we entered we heard a staff member telling another group that Liam Cunningham would be popping in to say hello and have some photos on the Iron Throne.  As we wandered around we heard his arrival, decided to play it cool and head over in a couple of minutes.  Just as we started to approach, he left!  When we got our pictures taken on the throne the woman said Rory McCann had been in earlier that day (we later found out he'd been for a fitting at the studio that morning which confirms him for next year! ;). 

Kings Guard
The Exhibition itself was great.  The detail on the costumes and props are amazing.  I've got photos up on Flickr.

On the way out I got chatting to one of the staff who informed we they had Patrick Stewart visiting the exhibition the night before.  I suggested it might have been a case of mistaken identity and showed him the pic of Sir Ben. ;)

We lunched in town and then had to say goodbye to @RuralInsanity as she had only flown in for the day.  The rest of us headed off to get ready for the opening of Helen Sloan's OnSet show.  A display of photos from the Game of Thrones set. 


We gathered at the Botanic Gardens and waited to get into the show.  Helen was there and welcomed us all in and then spent the rest of the evening receiving congratulations from friends and colleagues :).  The show consists of two smallish rooms with a number of prints showing behinds the scenes images of Game of Thrones.  From John Arryn lying dead in the Hand's chamber to the Throne Room being coated in snow and a dire wolf being lifted over the snow in Iceland while a zombie looks on.  The portrait shots were special.  If I thought I could get away with it I would have popped the portrait of Jaime Lannister under my arm and sprinted for the door!

The rooms were packed full of crew from Game of Thrones.  It was a warm night so it was quite cosy!   There was a brief sighting of Richard Dormer but he didn't stay long.  It was nice to catch up briefly with Wil Simpson.  He told us about his show in Derry and also that he had some work on display at W5 (Titanic Quarter, unfortunately closed on the Sunday morning when I visited). 

I also had a quick chat to Michele Clapton (Costume Designer), lovely lady and we also got to have a blether with Cat Taylor (@CatOnSet).  Great to finally meet her.  Congratulations again to Helen and I hope her talk goes well this Tuesday (18th June).  She did say she prefers to be behind the camera. :)

We left after a few hours and headed to the pub for a drink and a chat.  Then headed off to our own hotels.  My flight was Sunday lunch time so no more touring for me.

It was great to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.  Belfast was glorious in the sunshine and as always the GoT actors and crew are a lovely bunch of people.


Friday, 22 February 2013

Blackwater Screening - Glasgow Film Festival

Firstly an apology as I've been remiss in updating this blog!  It seems it's used mostly for reporting Game of Thrones conventions and since the last post I've attended Titan Con 2 and Throne Con 2.  Both excellent.  One day I'll get a report up.  Promise!

Meanwhile last night in Glasgow...

Glasgow Film Festival had a screening of Blackwater (Game of Thrones) with special guest Rory McCann (The Hound) there for a Q&A session afterwards.

CosPlayers waiting to go into the screening.

Louise, Morag, Beth, Laura and "Dr Robb" and myself bumped into King Robert outside the theatre before heading in.  We left Dr Robb with Laura to finish his emergency dinner outside while the four of us headed in for seats.  It was quite full but we were amazed to see four seats at the very front.  I checked and they weren't reserved.  Woohoo!

Morag, Louise and Beth waiting for the show to start.

The episode Rory was there to introduce the episode.  We sat back and enjoyed watching Game of Thrones - Blackwater on the big screen.  It was fantastic.  I wish I could watch all the episodes that way!  That wildfire explosion?  WHOOSH!  Brilliant stuff.

The lights came up to and we all applaued (over the top of Rains of Castamere).  Rory was reintroduced and the Q&A began.  I've had to paraphrase a little as I was trying to take notes on the iPhone at the time.  However I had heard some of the stories before so they were easier to recollect.  There's one wee video clip in there as it was Beth's question.  Not the one she really wanted to ask, that will have to come later. ;)

More photos can be found on my Flickr page.

Rory's Q&A

Rory and the MC.

Clean versions of the scenes.

Firstly I have to tell you that we also had to shoot a clean version of that "resignation scene" for episodes that are shown on flights etc. which included the phrases "Forget the city" and "Eat dirt dwarf".

Talking about the Bronn and Hound Scene.

I'd just come off shooting the riot scene in Dubrovnik straight into filming the Hound and Bronn scene.  I wasn't in a good mood that day.  Robson and I had also built up some friendly rivalry while in Dubrovnik.  We'd have swimming compentitions in the pool in the morning.  Nothing much was said, we'd only eye each other but we'd do as many lengths as we could.  Let me tell you he's a good swimmer!  I also hadn't realised Bronn had a knife behind his back like that.  That's a bit of a Glasgow trick isn't it? <laughter>

What was it like filming in the rain?  Were rain machines needed?

The rain was pounding.  Rivers of water everywhere.  They had the machines but no need for them.  At one point the set was nearly washed away.  You really bond on a shoot like that.  You gather around the fires for warmth and survival!  The extras were fantastic when ever I asked if they were OK there after laying in the water for hours they were always "Sure no problem!".

The episode, Blackwater.

This is the first time I've seen a whole episode.  I don't have Sky so don't see it on TV.  Whenever I get the DVDs friends steal them off me.

When did you realise that the Hound character is popular and there's a fandom/following?

When I was no longer pointed and whispers of "Porridge oats man" or "yarp!".  I was in the Outer Hebrides recently and I stopped to pick up a couple of hitch hikers.  We were chatting for a while and they asked what I did.  I explained I was an actor.  They then asked I was in.  When I said Game of Thrones they suddenly gasped and said "oh my God you're the Hound!".  It was about then I dropped them off.  When I looked in the mirror they were jumping up and down all excited.

There's a lot of Scottish actors in Game of Thrones.  Do you get to see them and mix with them?

I do get to see them but we're always on a different schedule.  Often Richard or Iain will have just finished shooting and will be kicking back at the pool side and asking me over but I'm trying to stay focused as I'm about to start shooting so unfortunately we don't get to mix that often.

I have to say though that Jimmy Cosmo is an absolute legend and a hero of mine.  I've not had a chance to spend much time with him but getting on the plane together I'm saying to myself "Jimmy Cosmo!"  I was chatting to Daniel Portman who plays Pod in the episode.  He was saying how Jimmy is great and gives great bear hugs.  I've not had one, I'm quite jealous!

How did you get into acting?

My first job was Willow.  I'd been dossing in caves in Wales and running out of money.  One day I came across a film set and asked if there was any work.  They said they were looking for two tall drunks.  I told them I'm 6'6" and from Glasgow.  I got the work.  It was great just to watch those guys working.

Have you read the books?

Rory gives away his GRRM signed copy of AGoT
I hadn't heard of the books before I got the part.  I picked up the first one and read it before filming the pilot.  I got to meet George at Doune where we filmed some of the Winterfell scenes.  I showed him by book and he was stunned at the state of it.  He asked what on earth I'd been doing with it.  I told him I'd read it the only way it should be, by open camp fires in the wild.  It's now twice the thickness it originally was and George signed it "to my Hound" <JM> Can't remember the full inscription</JM>   [At this point Rory takes the book out and shows us (see photo).  He then announced he was giving it away!  He had a seating plan of the theatre, closed his eyes and with a pen chose a seat.  Lucky B7 was the winner!].

Can you tell us anything about Season 3?

All I can say is it's bigger and better.  We're the last to get the script and the only time I get to see the whole story is at the read through before filming starts.  We usually do a couple of episodes at a time and then stop of a tea break.  I'm saying "no no I want to know what happens to the dragons!". <JM>He also said he wasn't sure but he thought they had more money for season 3, I can't remember. </JM>

Preparation and training.

I'm do a bit of physical preparation before filming because wearing all that armour can be quite exhausting.  I also prepare before the scenes.  I'll try different ways of delivering the lines.  In the case of Neil Marshall because he was brought in late he was very rushed on the set.  There were a couple of times he'd give me some direction and suggest I try a line a bit differently.  That's when having the producers on set can be useful.  They just gave me a small shake of the head and indicated I should just do as I was doing.  

Are you aware of SanSan shipping?

It's awkward you know.  She is a young girl and I hang out with her parents!  In fact they arrived in Dubrovnik the day we were filming the riot scene.  They were keeping an eye on me! [laughs].

Do you get to keep any of the costumes?  Would you wear them for Halloween?

No I haven't managed to keep the armour.  I do have some swords from other films though and I'm getting casts of my hands made which will be mounted on the wall.  So eventually I'll have a room full of my hands holding swords.  Weird eh?

Which is harder the emotional dialogue scenes or the fights scenes?

Oh the dialogue scenes.  They're much harder.  The others stuff is hacking and slaying [laughs].

What's the hardest scene you've had to film in the show?

That was this year.  I'm afraid  can't talk about it.  It's gone up a few notches from when I first started filming.  I'd turn up and we'd go.  Now there's three weeks rehearsal.

Who's your favourite character?

Tyrion.  He's so cool!

He's not lost the top of his head, his hat's black!

Was there training for those who hadn't used the weapons before?

Yes of course.  You're dancing with the swords.  

What's your personal opinion of the Hound.  Would you like him?

He's a guard dog with issues.  He wasn't cuddled enough as a child, just like me.  Oh, don't let my mother hear that she'll kill me! [laughs].

Family in the job.

My sister was working for the show before I got the part.  We've worked on a couple of things.  She works in the costume department and her husband Brian McGraw works in the props department.  He did a lot of the stuff in the episode tonight.  

Did you have an idea it would ever get this big when you started filming?

I knew there was a large book fan base.

Who would you play in the Highlander reboot?

Kurgan!  "It's better to burn out than to fade away!".  [He goes on to explain on the mountain top they used in the film, they used to leave practice swords up there for people to re-enact the scene. ]

Have you ever played any pranks on set?

I videoed the response to this one. [Video]

Have you sat on the Iron Throne?

Of course I have!  I've snapped bits off it and taken them back to the props department [laughs].  If you look at the right hand side you might notice there's a few less points than the right! [laughs].

Who'd win a drinking competition among the cast?

I backed out of a competition with Jason Mamoa.  He came into the bar one night pointed at me and started his Haka.  I downed my pint and left in fear. [laughs]  I regret that now.  He's such a dude.  He's the man!

[The interview was ended there but from the back of the hall Brian McGraw shouted "are you looking forward to being an uncle this year?"  Rory of course answered yes with a big smile.]

Rory left to much applauding and cheering.  A great night out with friends.  Shame they don't host these more often!  I'd pay!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Starfury Throne Con

Another post which must mean another convention!  My friend Louise and I attended Starfury Throne Con which was held in Birmingham with Maisie Williams, John Bradley, Rory McCann, Roxanne McKee, Josef Altin and Miltos Yerolemou.

The weekend didn't start off well with me discovering at the airport check-in that I had my mother's passport!  Luckily my work ID was okay to use.  Then my phone provider went on the fritz and due to my stupidity I had no internet access until Sunday afternoon!  EEKS!  Calm calm!

As it's all a blur I'll outline highlights instead of going day by day.

John's humour.  When asked what super power he'd like after much deliberation he decided there was no super power that couldn't be bought with a voucher.  Being Northern he likes to save his money ;)  He also described that awkward moment of watching the infamous Littlefinger scene with is parents.  He really could be a comedian.  John was very rock and roll on Friday wearing a leather jacket and a quiff.  Saturday he was very dapper in a black suit and white shirt.  He talked about how cold it had been in Iceland and yet they all left feeling like they'd enjoyed themselves.  He also mentioned that there's a significant change to Sam's life coming up in Season 2 (which readers can guess) and he's really enjoyed playing that.

Rory started the weekend wearing the Hound helmet t-shirt which got a cheer.  I nearly dropped my camera during his first talk when he shouted "look at me!"  Another common request was "Yarp!" ;)  He says he's always recognised in Scotland as the porage man and apparently judged a porage cooking competition in my home town where he had to try porage with herring in it.  Bleurgh.  He also talked about his sister and her work on Game of Thrones (I didn't know she did!).  She works in the costume department and occasionally they'll bump into each other and have a mini giddy moment.  She also helped out on the Beowulf film that was shot in Iceland with Gerrard Butler.

Rory loves living on his boat and wants to sail it to Belfast instead of staying in the hotel.  He's not sure DnD will let him though.  His dream is to get the boat kitted out enough to go sailing around the world. Rory also makes his own Sloe Gin with a little help from the fairies. I had no idea that there's such secrecy on the whereabouts of sloe bushes!

He seems to be a man of opposites.  He loves his isolation and shuns the lime light but also seems to have a desire to perform.  He and Miltos sat with Louise and I on Sunday night blethering away.  Great chat and lovely guys.  Most memorable fact to find out about the big  man, he used to be in a band with Carol Smilie which included fire extinguishers and capes!  That's probably more amusing for UKers who know who Carol Smilie is ;) 

I asked Rory what it was like working with Jack Gleeson.  He says he's really a lovely young man who's studying philosophy at Uni at the moment.  On the Saturday he admitted to being a bit of a joker on set.  He's been known to be on all fours in front of the Iron Throne woofing away, rolling over and getting his tummy scratched. He also likes to steal people swords just before a shot.

//Spoilerish question
He'd expressed regret his audition scene wasn't in season 1 and how maybe one day he'd get to do something like it.  I asked how the SanSan relationship was going in Season 2.  He said there had been 3 options that they tried out and have gone for one that well the fans will just have to be happy with.  He seemed to hope they would be.

He also stated he's really looking forward to working with Maisie.
// End of spoilerish questions

Miltos told us about his new production for the summer.  It's the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and is held in Regent's Park.  It will be very high tech and he's really looking forward to it.  Miltos and Maisie were on stage together on Saturday and good to see the old team back together.  It was Miltos and Rory on Sunday.  Sadly I missed most of that talk but judging by the laughs from the audience it went well.

Josef arrived on the Saturday and the poor guy was a little stage struck at being sat in front of 120+ people.  He was on stage with John on Saturday and Sunday.  He's involved with a lot of projects at the moment including Les Mis where he has one line to sing.  During the closing ceremony he wanted to give something back to the attendees to read out the Nights Watch vow.  It was great.  Then on the Sunday night he had to leave sharp.  While waiting on his car, he ran around the bar hugging all the attendees he could find saying thanks and good bye.  He's such a lovely guy.  I wish him all the success he deserves.

Roxanne was on stage herself for both days.  She did mention that Doreah doesn't die in the show and when people started to shout "spoilers!" she back tracked a little and said no no, no it's not.  She's actually Canadian born and hopes to get some work over there.  She really admires Harry Lloyd and would love to work with him again.  She's a rock chick liking the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and such.  She has a degree in politics but hasn't really used it since.  She had a great time, she'd not done a convention before and would love to do one again.

Oooh blush ;)  Maisie was also presented with the cast of her and Sophie's hands which was done at Titan Con.

I have to give a shout out to all those that entered the fancy dress competition.  Some amazing outfits.

Some photos of the con can be found on my Flickr page.

Well that's all I can remember at the moment.  I might update if I remember more.

Next con for me is Titan Con 2 in Sept and Sean's just announced there will be a Throne Con 2 in January.  I'll be booking that up too.  It's always great fun to meet up with fellow ASoIaF fans :)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Titan Con!

OK, it seems this blog is mostly used for reporting the Game of Thrones gatherings held in Belfast.  So continuing with tradition....

Woooheee, where to start.  Let's start at the very beginning a very good place to start.

Should firstly point out that I'm Game of Thrones biased and there was a lot more going on at the con inc. gaming, make up demonstrations, Wireless Wireless Mystery Theatre (who were fab!) etc that I didn't see and can't report on.  Great variety of activities to take part in.

A sample of pics and videos are included in the blog but more pictures can be found here and more videos here.

Thursday night:

Some of us met the amazing TitonCon committee (Silverjaime, Ian, Bruce and MountainGoat) to find out our volunteer duties for the Saturday.  That sorted we settled down to a bit of a blether with Joe Campo (before he had to leave) and WiC_Hear_Me_Roar (Marko).  Knowing that there was a long weekend ahead we had a relatively early night.  After I'd partaken of my first Guinness which was free thanks to Arthur Day! :)

Sam and I offered to help MountainGoat (Phil) with shopping for the con.  We set out and wandered the streets of Belfast.  I now know most Pound Shops in the area and a few stationery shops too!  With one disaster diverted (the lack of artists boards) and a bit if wheeling and dealing done we headed to lunch with Pod.  After a lovely lunch with Pod (nothing to blame him for!), Sam and I headed back to our respective hotels to continue work on our costumes for the fancy dress before heading out to McHugh's.

Friday night:
There was great anticipation in the air.  FaBio had landed and he would be heading to McHugh's too!  Just how crazy could one man be?  Well....see WiC.Net and find out!  Ian McDonald, Peadar O Guilin and T. A. Moore gave great readings from their books.  Not long after they'd finished (or perhaps the free apple and rhubarb cider made it seem not long), the man himself arrived.  FaBio.  Again, visit WiC.Net and see for yourself.  The WiCers in the party settled down for a chat and blethered away into the night.  So late in fact we realised that those of us who had to be up at 6am to help at the con weren't going to make it.  Luckily Phil let us make it 7am (though I'm ashamed to say I made it 7.30am!).

On the way back to our various hotels we stopped of at Little Italy for a Fabio pizza (I kid you not!) which consisted of Ham, Mushroom and to FaBio's surprise, cheddar!  Off we headed to bed for what would be the best convention ever!  Well it certainly felt it on the day and the next day and even now.

Saturday morning:
Up bright and early (well almost), I headed to the Europa to help with the set up.  After adding a few more chairs to Winterfell and greating some of the guests as they arrived, I headed up to help start/co-ordinate the press conference.  Kristian, Sophie, Maisie and Art sat awaiting questions.  Typically just as I started the session off, who should arrive late but FaBio himself!  Strolling on up to the top table, introducing himself and starts interviewing the guests straight away ;)

Things started off a little shakily as I realised I didn't know where the Opening Ceremony was being held nor whether the guests were meant to attend.  Due to slightly crossed wires, I drag the family and guests down only to be shooed out by Phil and told to take them back upstairs!  Beamer!  So scrabbling past them and the attendees we head back up to Winterfell (the guest talk room) and settled them down for the first set of talks.

Peadar moderated the first talk and did a great job.  He got the questions started and the audience took over.  The first talk's discussion centred around season 1 of Game of Thrones with no spoilers for what may or may not be happening in season 2.  One fun moment I can remember was Peadar asking Sophie how hard it was to play an unpopular character, waiting for the answer and then saying "now to the popular one" and asking Maisie a question.  The girls took it in great spirit ;)

Photos next and Jim Corr the photographer ( took the group shots with the guests.  He did a great job and stayed around and documented other 'happenings' of the day.  Sorry if the attendees and guests found the photo session a bit rushed but it wasn't clear how many were wanting photos and we only had an hour to get them done and also fit in breaks for the guests so they could de-numb their cheeks and recover their eyesight from the flash.

Next a display or swordsmanship from the water dancer himself, Miltos Yerolemou!  He was joined by Joe Campo (Get Joe on the Show!) and Arya herself, Maisie.  Unfortunately lunch buying duties meant I missed most of the sword fighting but everything I hear says it was great.  I'm looking forward to seeing photos and videos from other attendees!

A break for lunch and it was all go again in the afternoon.

Saturday afternoon:
During lunch one of the attendees (I know him from other cons but not his name!) asked to make a cast of Maisie's and Sophie's hands for an art piece.  The girls were really excited about the idea and sat down to workout a pose.  They eventually decided on their hands being placed back to back. (I'd like to take credit but I can't really, however I did say that it could represent the opposite characteristics of Arya and Sansa ;).

Two more successful Thrones talks in the afternoon one hosted by the Guest of Honour himself Ian McDonald and the other hosted by Peadar again.  Then it was the signings.  A big queue wound its way around the hall but everyone was patient and got their stuff signed (as far as I'm aware) and I'm more than happy with mine! :)

There was a break for dinner/tea/food after the signings and that's when Sam and I headed off to start getting into our costumes.  After lugging a huge suitcase with me I figured I'd better go ahead with it even though nerves were putting me off my teatime sandwich!

Saturday night:
Attendees had the opportunity to view the weekend's Doctor Who ep or hang out in the hall.  Sam and I (along with the others who had entered the competition) were up on the Eyrie getting changed into our costumes.  White hairspray, black bags, selotape, capes, swords and loads more were being unpacked and set up.  We were ready on schedule (miraculously) and headed down just after 8pm.

Peadar was MCing the competition and Maisie and Sophie were judging it.  We all scuttled into and alcove next to the bar and tried to hide from the gazes of the attendees awaiting the competition.  We were introduced by Peadar and in a true Miss World style asked to answer a question or two.  Some did little skits on stage, some posed (rather like myself).  Once we'd paraded we regrouped on stage for a group shot and then headed to the back of the hall to await judgement.

There were so many great entries including Sam's Heart tree I feel we were all winners but it was me who came away with the prize.  Thanks Maisie and Sophie :) and special thanks to Ross ( for making and donating the Dragon glass arrow.  There will be some pictures of me with a bemused look on my face as I tried to figure out how I was going to get it home.  It was eventually posted thanks to Sam's help.  Still not here yet but looking forward to seeing it again.

After the fancy dress it was Wireless Mystery Theatre.  I'd really been looking forward to seeing it unfortunately I took too long to pack Hodor and Bran away into the suitcase.  I sat down just as they finished.  Again I hear they were excellent and I really hope they will be there next year.

After the Theatre music was on and we settled down to enjoy the last few hours of Titan Con.  It wasn't long before Joe Campo produced his Horn of Winter (see illustration!) and AKA_Qthulhu donated the mead.  Much merriment ensued which then kicked of Jo and her Dothraki rap.  Tables were pounded and chants rang through the hall.  Not long after that Joe leapt up and suggested (demanded) that we clear the tables and start dancing.  So we did.

One of the highlights of the whole convention was Maisie and Sophie enjoying the music and relaxing and dancing away.  Nice to see them being left to it while others enjoyed the dancing too.  Best bit was the synchronised moonwalk to Beat It.  Etched in my mind forever ;)  It was easy to see what talented dancers they both were.

While the older generation retreated back to their seats to collapse into a heap, the girls kept on dancing.  Eventually it was raffle time!  Unfortunately quite a few people couldn't stay that late so tickets were being called (usually by Maisie) and no one collecting.  Eventually the prizes were given out (inc. one to me!) and then Phil had to announce that was the end of Titan Con 2011.  Groans and sadness ensued.

It had been a brilliant day and it was a shame to see it end.  Luckily some of us had signed up for the Titan Con Locations Tour!  Sunday morning came bright (that's a lie) and early and we met at the Europa to await the buses.

Titan Con tour!  After watching people absail down the Europa for charity we boarded our buses and headed on the road.  Poor Miltos begged to join us in the back row but we said no! ;p

Thanks to Doc for the picture!

First stop the Paint Hall.  Not much to see but the extras on the bus pointed out what the various huts were for.
Please excuse the dirty window!

Second stop, Tollymore.  Site of the Direwolf scene and the Prologue.  The weather had turned by nasty by then and we got off the bus to rain.  We were still cheery though.  We trekked through the beautiful forest following the path down to the river.  We stopped at the bridge where the Direwolf was found and took some pics.  Some intrepid adventurer attempted to cross the burn/river without using the bridge.  Not sure why but it amused us as we watched ;)  After many pictures it was off to the Wildling encampment and the prologue scene.

By now it must be said, we were getting slightly more than damp and so we perhaps didn't stay as long as we might have but we did stop and take a few more pics.  Back to the buses and a case of steamy windows and soggy feet as we headed to Inch Abbey.

Third stop, Inch Abbey.  This was a shorter walk but less sheltered.  Within 10 steps my feet were soaked and the rain was driving horizontally!  Some chose not to leave the bus but a lot of us made it to the Abbey and with the help of Miltos and Pod, re-enacted the King of the North scene.  Some left for the bus a little too quickly (inc. myself ) and missed the Jaime/Catelyn site but the shelter of the bus was calling.  Can I just say I hope those who didn't have jackets at all have finally dried out!

Fourth and final stop, Winterfell! (Castle Ward) where it had stopped raining!  We were greeted in the courtyard by  Clann Ulaidh and Jo. After an awesome display of swordsmanship and axemanship (if that's a word!), Art, Kristian, Phil,  AKA_Qthulhu, Kevin, Doc and Jo described how the courtyard had been set up for Winterfell.  All the sets are gone now as they've bee moved to a different location.

Once the talk was over we were left to wander the grounds and if we wished join in with the archery up at the feasting hall.  After a few photos we headed up to the archery.  The queue was quite long but we waited and watched.  As we did the Parkinson family joined the queue and we just had to wait and see how well young Art would do.  Has to be said he hit the target with his first shot!  (We'll not mention the others ;).  Turns out mum and dad aren't too bad either.  They hit the centre!

The dinner gong was run (we got shouted at) and we headed to the feast hall.  Mouths and eyes watering (it was smoky in the marque) we queued up for some hog!  Never has a pig died for such a good cause! YUMMY!  Wine (red and white)/Mead (those in the vicinity of AKA_Qthulhu or Miltos) and juice were on the table.  It was just what was needed for the weary, damp travellers.

Once fed the festivities started again.  Jo gave us another rendition of the Dothraki rap (must find out the real title) and Phil gave an aware to the furthest travelled attendee, the Philippines!  As the glasses dried up and the  plates were scraped clean it was once again time to call an end to the fun.  Poor Phil got booed again.

Back on the buses but spirits were high.  We felt more accommodating and kindly let Miltos regale us with stories during the journey back.  Not wanting it to end there we headed to Robinson's across the road for one final drink and fair well.  Hugs, hand shakes and promises were given as we promised to be back next year to do it all again (but maybe with less rain ;).  Have to say my ribs are finally healing after FaBio's bear hug and swing but I wouldn't have it any other way.

One more night in the hotel and then unfortunately it was a rushed goodbye between Sam, Rabbit and myself. Wires crossed and not paying attention to the time meant we had to rush for buses with quick hugs and farewells.  Perhaps that's the best way.  Makes me sad now to think it's all over.  The con blues are creeping in, but I'll shoo them away with the knowledge that there just has to be a Titan Con next year!

I will say this, there may be a risk of limited or no Game of Thrones guests but there is every chance of great fun with great people and memories and smiles to last you until the next Titan Con!

Surely you can't say no to these guys! ;)