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!