Studio Time: Hallam Foe

hallam foe 2hallam foeThere is a handful of actors who are neither Glaswegian or Scottish, but who have nonetheless found themselves working on films in Glasgow on more than one occasion. Emily Mortimer (Dear Frankie, Young Adam) is one, Bob Hoskins (Doomsday, Unleashed) another. Then there is Jamie Bell – the Teesside-born actor who first shot to fame at a young age in Billy Elliot. As previously documented here, Bell spent time in Glasgow during the production of The Eagle and more recently was in the city to shoot the forthcoming Filth. Like The Eagle, 2007’s Hallam Foe features Jamie Bell, was directed by David Mackenzie and used the fantastic Film City Glasgow in Govan as a production base and to shoot some scenes.

Bell plays the titular character in this charming and quirky film and is joined by a strong cast that includes Sophia Myles, Ciaran Hinds (who made his acting debut on stage in Glasgow), Jamie Sives, Claire Forlani and – no stranger to this blog – Ewen Bremner. Hallam is a somewhat troubled young man with a penchant for spying on people and serious stepmother issues following the death of his mother a couple of years previously. He leaves his father (Hinds) and the stepmother (Forlani) behind in their countryside home and heads to Edinburgh, where he spots and follows hotel HR executive Kate – who happens to be a dead ringer for his late mother – and ends up being employed by her. As the film progresses we see the eccentric Hallam come of age in various ways.

While all outdoor scenes and key indoor scenes were filmed in Edinburgh and Peeblesshire, studio filming for parts of the movie took place at Film City Glasgow, and in the DVD commentary David Mackenzie mentions that a staircase seen as the entrance to Kate’s Edinburgh flat is in fact in Glasgow.

Post-trip catch up

Glasgow on Film has regretfully been neglecting blogging duties recently due to some time away with work, and then last week a holiday in the USA. However -hopefully back to business as usual now and among the many and varied subjects coming this way soon will be: Glasgow’s roles and contributions in Dear Frankie, Hallam Foe, Beautiful Creatures and Ratcatcher; visits to the city by Dwight Yoakam, Jean Reno and Charlton Heston; a look at the acting careers of David O’Hara and Billy Boyd.

Before we look at these matters in the coming days though it really is necessary to have a catch up on what has been a big week for film in Glasgow…

World Film Locations: Glasgow

world film locationsWhile across the Atlantic, GoF’s postlady had been with a delivery from Amazon – the brand new book World Film Locations: Glasgow, edited by Nicola Balkind. It is everything Glasgow on Film could ask for in a book – packed full of profiles of movies old and new that have been made in the city, as well as studying themes such as Glasgow’s passion for cinema and Glaswegian humour.

GoF is looking forward to sitting down and reading this book – the latest in a series which includes other cities such as London, Los Angeles and Dublin. If you are interested in film to the point of reading this blog, then you will almost certainly be familiar with Nicola Balkind’s work – she is a freelance web editor and film journalist who has contributed to a number of previous World Film Locations titles. Edited by Nicola and with contributions from more of Scotland’s best and brightest film commentators, this will be essential reading for all film enthusiasts – Glaswegian or otherwise. You can read more about the book and order it on Amazon and you can also visit Nicola’s website.

Glasgow Film Festival

empireThe ninth Glasgow Film Festival (www.glasgowfilm.org) kicked off on 14th February and lasts until 24th February. Alongside the premieres of new films and screenings of classics, plus visits from the likes of Eli Roth and Joss Whedon, are themed strands which this year include a retrospective of James Cagney, a celebration of Brazilian cinema and “Game Cats Go Miaow!” in which Burnistoun star Robert Florence looks at Scotland’s passion for gaming. It is fantastic to witness this festival grow in stature each year and when sitting in Heathrow last Saturday awaiting the flight to New York it was very pleasing to see this stylish advert in Empire magazine.

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas comes out on general release in UK cinemas this Friday, but had its first UK cinema screening at Glasgow Film Theatre last night as part of the Glasgow Film Festival. Glasgow on Film was lucky enough to be in the audience. A full analysis will follow on here at a later date when more people have had a chance to see the film first hand, but some top line points to make about it are:

– it’s really, really good – the THREE directors have lovingly crafted a truly impressive production.

– the acting is tremendous – you’ll see well known actors play in styles you’ve never seen them do before. While it would be tough to choose a stand out performance, Glasgow on Film if pushed would have to highlight Hugh Grant – not one of his multiple roles bear any resemblance to the foppish romantic comedy roles that he has previously been best known for.

– Glasgow looks brilliant in its guises as San Francisco, London and – something not widely reported previously – Cambridge.

– There are a number of nods to Scotland, including scenes filmed and actually set in Edinburgh, therefore coupled with the Glasgow filming connections these make Cloud Atlas likely to be a conversation piece across the land for weeks and months to come.

Well done to the festival organisers for securing this screening, which included a Q&A session with one of the film’s stars – James D’Arcy.

Studio Time: The Eagle

the eagleThis 2011 “swords and sandals” (a great term used by one of the contributors in the making of segment on the DVD) film is another production to have employed the wonderful Film City Glasgow as a production base. Being set in Roman Britain, even the most creative minds would struggle to dress 21st century Glasgow as that time and place but Film City was a hive of activity during the rural Scottish leg of the shoot (parts of the film were also shot in Hungary) and indeed some of The Eagle‘s stars were spotted around the city.

Speaking of stars the film boasts an impressive cast, headed up by the increasingly ubiquitous Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell, and also including Donald Sutherland and Mark Strong. Based on a novel by the late author Rosemary Sutcliff, The Eagle is directed by Glasgow-born Kevin Macdonald, whose significant contribution to cinema will be a future subject on this blog.

The story takes place in 140 AD, where Tatum’s centurion Marcus Aquila sets out to solve the mystery of the disappearance 20 years earlier of his father’s legion in the mountains of Caledonia. Bell takes on the role of a British slave who accompanies him on his mission. The Eagle did not quite achieve the “bigger than Braveheart” status that some commentators were predicting for it prior to its release, however it should still be regarded as a significant production for Scotland. The scenery is striking and, unlike many historic epics of recent years, its use of CGI effects is limited – something that Macdonald indicates was important to him while commenting in the DVD extras, and that gained praise from respected American film critic Roger Ebert. Glasgow on Film has to admit to not being a huge fan of historic films – certainly not those set this far back – but in fact found the pace of this movie agreeable. Furthermore it offers some welcome contrasts throughout – there are beautifully sunny sets and dark, depressing, rainy ones; there are violent scenes, but upbeat ones too.

Studio Time: Outpost

outpostoutpost 2So far Glasgow on Film has covered movies filmed and set in Glasgow, movies filmed on the streets of Glasgow but set elsewhere and even those filmed elsewhere but set in Glasgow. This new GoF category – Studio Time – has been created for films shot within the four walls of the Film City Glasgow studio in Govan, so therefore not using Glasgow’s streets, parks or any other distinguishing features as a backdrop but definitely Clyde built productions nonetheless.

Before going into the plot of Outpost, a little bit on Film City Glasgow…

Film City Glasgow is quintessentially Glaswegian, housed in the red sandstone former Govan Town Hall and just a stone’s throw from the River Clyde. Central to the complex is a 5,000 square foot studio and build space and there are production offices, workshop areas and rehearsal and meeting rooms. On its website Film City Glasgow is described as “the heart and soul of Scotland’s film and television industry”, a title justified by the impressive list of both television and film production companies who reside there, have used it as a base or both. In film, The Eagle, Perfect Sense, Red Road, Legacy, The Decoy Bride and Neds are among the productions in which Film City Glasgow has played a part. Film City Glasgow is currently leading proposals for a new, bigger studio scheme on the Clyde waterfront just next to the existing premises – this would include two studio sound stages, with one at around 20,000 square feet in size. If approved the new complex would have the potential to lead to even more movie making in Glasgow, a prospect which of course Glasgow on Film relishes.

Back to today’s subject matter Outpost, which had internal scenes shot in Film City Glasgow, with external scenes filmed on location in Dumfries and Galloway. Starring Ray Stevenson, Julian Wadham, Richard Brake, Paul Blair, Brett Fancy, Enoch Frost, Julian Rivett, Michael Smiley and Johnny Meres, Outpost sees a team of mercenaries and the scientist who hired them head to an underground bunker in a remote part of eastern Europe. The scientist, Hunt (played by Julian Wadham), has knowledge that the bunker was used by the Nazis during the second world war to experiment and develop an army of super soldiers, and is particularly interested in an anti-matter device housed within. The team discover what appears to be a survivor, and from then on in the film develops into its horror territory as the mercenaries are killed off one by one amid mysterious goings on. The film is classed as low budget – it was in fact the first release from Black Camel Pictures, founded by couple Arabella Croft and Kieran Parker who mortgaged their Glasgow home to finance Outpost – yet the quality surpasses that of many other movies made on budgets of similar or even higher amounts. Another contrast that does the film and the people behind it credit is that between its background and its plot – the story of a Glasgow couple mortgaging their house to fund a business sounds like it should be leading up to the opening of a new coffee shop in the west end, not a genuinely creepy and gruesome movie about undead Nazis.