The Ride (13): Not Quite Hollywood

HEADLINE: The Book Trailer Footage for Fir for Luck is Filmed!

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An attempt to shoot an extreme close-up of the talent‘s eye widening in fear. Not easy when she keeps laughing – and who’d blame her with all of us looking on? By the way, this is the exact place where Fir for Luck is set.

I’m telling you – I’d be a rubbish film producer. I do NOT naturally think of everything!

And that proved to be a very crucial skill I lacked in the run-up to one of the most fun days of the Ride.

The book trailer sort-of screenplay was written on the train to Edinburgh and then hurriedly typed up and emailed to Ross-the-film-man on Wednesday, ahead of Saturday’s Road trip. Cutting it fine, you think? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

It’s a historical novel, for which we planned to film on site. Problem: it’s a clearance village, as in CLEARED, nothing left but rubble. Somehow, in a few short snaps, we had to get the illusion of 1841 across, while keeping the approach modern enough for young people to be interested. No easy feat.

I’d contacted the National Trust, but no costumes could be spared on a Saturday, their busiest family dressing up day.

Oh well, surely the Inverness Museum?

No luck there either.

Ha! The folk museum, an hour south from here.

Yes, they said, they had two amazingly realistic costumes we could borrow.

Hooray, I whooped.

At a charge of (insert confidential shocking number), they said.

I agonised for a millisecond and declined with thanks – this road trip would cost enough as it was. Brainwave – couldn’t we could go down there instead, film in the folk museum longhouse with its proper peat fire, and get the costumes free to boot? – Bingo! I rang again.

Not without a zillion risk assessments and two months’ notice, no, they said.

Quick drive to my school’s costume department and major dig through every box – with meagre success. Panicked phone call to friend in local theatre, with some more meagre success. One day to go by now and blood pressure rising due to awful weather forecast and costume scarcity. Final brainwave – ring Strathnaver Museum in Bettyhill. It’ll mean a significant detour, but maybe, just maybe.

Sure, they said, borrow from our stack of clearance style costumes. Of course you can film in our museum tomorrow – we’ll just hold anyone else off. Risk assessment? Nah, it’s fine. And by the way, we’d love to stock and sell your book, please tell us all about it.

I nearly cried.

At 7am the next day I jumped in the shower before dragging husband and two out of three children out of bed. We picked up the borrowed redhead (my main character has a lot of auburn hair, and I sort of make a thing of it) and Ross-the-film-man and got going, our car packed with camera gear, props, costume boxes and six people plus dog. Three hours (and being stuck behind five German campervans) later, we needed serious re-booting, having only narrowly avoided travel sickness disaster. Grumpometer rising, we chose to have coffee and second breakfast first.

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Paperwork for the trip

At Strathnaver Museum, we cobbled together an outfit as best we could and redhead looked almost like my research collage – at least from a distance which is all I cared about. Close-up shots at the museum didn’t take long, especially as the helpful Sonia  allowed us really close to the exhibits. Done.

We departed for the hour’s drive to Ceannabeinne near Durness. It was great to be back at the place where I had spent so much time in my head. My 11 year-old spent an enjoyable half an hour preparing everything for a roadside fire in the ditch (to burn the eviction writ) as the redhead sprinted up and down the hill being filmed from angle after angle. In the end, to give her a break, my daughter donned the plaid and hurtled down the hill as a (bare-)foot model. Wrangling, shouting, rock-hurling, (responsible!) fire-raising – just as well we were in the middle of nowhere!

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Run! And again! And just one more time!

And at the end? We popped into the craft village at Balnakeil so I could say a personal thank-you to the generous illustrator Nicola Poole whom I mentioned in my last blog post. Cocoa Mountain, the world’s best café, was just along the road: a complete no-brainer:)

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Cocoa Mountain Hot Chocolate

13 hours, 9 German campervans, innumerable laughs. One awesome day.

Can’t wait to see what Ross-the-film-man comes up with in his editing cave!

 

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