"My GHTG experience" –by Malcolm Morrison
Malcolm was my assistant on the film, having already helped me as ‘script consultant’ the previous autumn with his friend Kenny. I asked him to say a few words about his time on set, so here it is! – Stuart
GHTG was my first ever experience of working on a feature film, I kept a journal during my time on the GHTG shoot; I had never kept one before – thinking nothing in my life was of that much interest before– but working on a feature film (I thought) must prove interesting reading. When we finished shooting and had the wrap drinks I felt I had one of the best summers of my life (which is true), I looked back on the shoot and remembered the all best bits – fusing them into an amazing memory of the whole. The thing is, when I looked over my day to day journal it was different; it was filled with a lot of doubt – hanging around on set with nothing to do, feeling a bit redundant and feeling I was getting in the way a lot of the time.
This is the trick of film-making; you can’t see the wood for the trees, but once you are out of the wood you realise it was a pretty amazing place.
I have been incredibly lucky with GHTG; I worked on the website, a bit of the script with Stuart, and the kickstarter fund raising campaign. And I thought that was it, and I have to admit I was a bit gutted that I had worked on the prep and wouldn’t be part of the shoot – I wasn’t ready to be done. Then one day – out of the blue – I got a call from Stuart asking if I wanted to be part of the shoot as his assistant; of course I said yes, but what I didn’t realise was I started in two days time.
It was a bit of a shock (I think I may still be in shock); I was working with talented people – people whose work the world knew. Maybe it is good that the introduction to that world was so quick that I didn’t have time to think about what I was entering or my head would have exploded. The result it had on me was to make me a bit of a nervous wreck – I felt someone would realise I shouldn’t be in this amazing position and I would be gone. I would write in my journal “this is an amazing opportunity, just chill out and enjoy it” – I couldn’t, I had an intense feeling of being a square peg in a round whole; it made me feel like I was back in high school again, which felt slightly nostalgic and terrifying at the same time.
The thing that got me through this was what a nice bunch of people the GHTG crew are. I couldn’t have asked for a better boss than Stuart. He has been dreaming about this film for a long time, it means more to him than anyone and he was so gracious to everyone working on his “baby”. This gave me a goal to focus on; help Stuart get the film he dreamed off.
Stuart is a hard man to read, so I hope – in my own little way – I helped him get where he wanted to go. And Barry: he’s a big Hollywood producer, he was very forgiving to the tall, awkward, and sometimes quite sweaty guy which I was on set. I feel I’m gushing at this moment (potentially with sweat) so I’m moving on.
I didn’t really know what to expect for my first time on a feature film set. For my personal experience I would probably say it was a mixture between the film My Week with Marilyn and an episode of Mr Bean. It had, in hindsight, the strange sensation of feeling timeless but all too brief. I guess in the end it feels like a brilliant summer holiday in retrospect, filled with wonderful memories. So, I have picked four of my best memories to give you a sense of what that summer was like.
1. Playing a game on set, invented by Barry. This was during filming for the ballroom dance scene (for the song I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie). Barry was undergoing physiotherapy for his arm at the time, and he had a small, red exercise ball about the size of a grape-fruit (which Stuart thought was a ball of Edam cheese). The aim of the game was to roll the ball as close to the ballroom stage without touching it. I was remarkably good at it, to my surprise. I learned from this that it is good to have something to do on set, as there is generally a lot of waiting around in your average day.
2. Discussing with Stuart the GHTG team being like the characters from Dad’s Army (the classic British sit-com). I suggested that I was the character Pike. Stuart was in a quandary; “I guess I would make me Captain Mannering”, he said, “but I feel more like I should be John Le Mesurier’s character.” I agree, there is something of John Le Mesurier about Stuart, but he was the leader on the shoot. “I guess Captain Mannering is OK. He’s a complex character”, was Stuart’s resolution to the conversation.
3. We had to find an extra location for Eve’s teenage bedroom at last minute (with about 3 days to find it), and this lead to me being given the task of finding it. I had to walk around the West End of Glasgow with flyers and talking to people (mainly old women who were around that day). I didn’t realise how suspicious it was; a 6ft 4inch man walking up to old ladies, and asking them “we’re making a film. We need a teenage girl’s bedroom to film.” Most of the older ladies were very polite about it, but I did have one brandish me a pervert before walking off. I wouldn’t say this is a “fun” memory, but it is certainly a fun tale to tell the grandchildren – if I am ever allowed near children since the incident.
4. My taste of fame. This came one night when I went out dancing in a club with actor’s Hannah Murray and Olly Alexander (Cassie and James from the film). There we were dancing away, when two of the roughest women walked up to Hannah. “You’re that girl from Skins, aren’t you?” they said. They tried to take a picture, but Hannah didn’t want to be disturbed from her shaman like dance and moved off. Then they came up to me. “That’s that girl from Skins, isn’t it?” they spat at me. “I think she doesn’t want her picture taken. Why don’t you leave her alone”, I said. “Who are you then?” they replied. “I am Leonardo Dicaprio’s younger brother”, I said to them sarcastically, “we are filming a top-secret, high-budget film here in Glasgow. Don’t tell anyone”. To my surprise, they didn’t read my sarcasm. I had people buying me drinks, taking pictures with me, and asking me “what’s Leo really like?” until I left the club.
I will remember these things about the GHTG shoot for as long as I live, and other bits will fade. In the end that’s fitting; a film is all the best parts of what you get during the shoot edited together into what that experience ultimately means. Those amazing gems of experience I had during the shoot give me my story to that summer. You’ll see your own version of that summer in the finished film; all the best bits put together..