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Behind the Scenes


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Cumbernauld stars in the Battle of Culloden

11:54Saturday 27 August 2016 0


Hundreds of film extras kitted out as Jacobites and redcoats have staged an epic rerun of the bloody 1746 Battle of Culloden in a field at Greengairs.

The gory encounter is a climactic scene in the latest series of hit fantasy-history drama Outlander, and main star Sam Heughan – broadsword in hand – was in the thick of the mock fight along with the rest of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s tartan army. Clouds of fake gunsmoke could be seen drifting across the make-believe field of slaughter – just a short distance from the heart of Cumbernauld.

The “battle”, filmed last week, was the latest success for Cumbernauld as a prospective national film studio centre, building on the reputation the town has already achieved from the filming of the first series of Outlander. Whereas before it was argued that the film base in a disused local factory was ideal as a central point for outside location shots in places including Blackness Castle and Doune the latest series has proved that countryside just minutes from the heart of the new town can be portrayed as – for example – a windswept moor in 18th century rural Inverness-shire. The real battlefield on Drumossie Moor is a war grave, and visitor attraction, and completely unsuitable for filming.

Cumbernauld’s evolving role as a successful film studio centre is taking place amid ongoing controversy about where a national film base should be sited. For several years rival plans have jockeyed for position while studio chiefs have complained about a claimed lack of action from the Scottish Government. Cumbernauld has repeatedly been touted as an ideal location for the national base, underpinned by the runaway success of Outlander at home and abroad – despite not being screened in the UK. But discussions on whether a private-public scheme based in Cumbernauld should be adopted have dragged on for more than two years.

Meanwhile other plans for studios have surfaced in Edinburgh and Dundee. Then in March both NLC and the Scottish Government confirmed that a private investor wants to expand with a new 30,000 square foot premises on-site. At 50 meters high, the building would be able to accommodate towering sets, lighting rigs and other heavy-duty apparatus. The site’s existing owners had been working on the project with the Film Studio Delivery Group from the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. Meanwhile last week’s Cumbernauld version of Culloden isn’t the first time a supposedly unlikely Scottish location has been used for a “battle”. In the 1980’s movie Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life a farm in Kippen, Stirlingshire, was used for a comedy sketch based on the 1879 Battle of Rorkes Drift – with the Campsie Hills standing in for the hills of Zululand.


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Storyboards are an important tool sometimes used in the pre-production process. The director works with a storyboard artist to plan out each shot required to shoot a particular scene and tell the story. The storyboards are then shared with the entire crew, so everyone has an idea of the director’s vision for the scene and can plan accordingly.



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“Sue Morrison in the Set Decoration department is in charge of finding animals for the show. She showed us a picture of Scamp and we thought he looked perfect. We brought him in for a mini-audition, mainly just as a formality. We wanted to make sure he would walk on a stranger’s body, since it’s an important part of his role. We had an extra lie down on a gurney and Scamp’s trainer gave him commands from off camera.  He did great!”

–Maril Davis, Executive Producer


For some reason, this was not how I imagined Bouton, but, like every other aspect of the show,  now I cannot imagine him any other way.

Bouton a.k.a. Scamp’s Story

“Scamp was brought into Dumfries and Galloway Canine Rescue Centre in beautiful south-west Scotland as a stray in April 2009. We were able to estimate his age reasonably accurately as 16 weeks, because he only had adult incisor teeth. My daughter Pippa, then aged 10, had been pestering me for a rescue dog to call her own, since we had lived in at the Centre since its inception in 2003. I have always had a large “family” of Golden Retrievers (usually around 8) and had resisted her pleas until Scamp arrived—one look at his wee face and I was hooked! Not only is he utterly adorable and cheeky, but he is incredibly smart and quick to learn. He actually knew so much already at a tender age, we believe he had an “old soul” in a young body, that he had been here before!

The rescue center had previously assisted animal agent David Stewart of Creature Features with finding suitable dogs for part in various film and TV work as well as modelling, and when he asked us to find a very trainable terrier for a particular challenge in early 2013, Scamp seemed to be the ideal candidate. It was for a TV advert for a well-known Scottish soft drink, whose series of humorous adverts were renowned. The dog needed to be able to bark on command by a visual cue, but in addition he would be held by a strange actor in a white coat, and he would be wearing an Elizabethan post-operative collar! No mean feat but after a few weeks training (which involved lots of chicken!) Scamp performed perfectly on the day.

We were all terribly disappointed when the executives from the soft drinks company decided not to use the finished advert. However, David felt that Scamp was still destined for stardom, and in the summer of 2015 Scamp joined the cast of Outlander Season 2 as Bouton. On this occasion David did all the training, and Scamp had lots of trips away from home, but we knew he was in safe hands. David’s biggest challenge was getting Scamp to tone things down a bit—in the somber hospital scenes, the Mother Superior’s dog had to be suitably dignified and Scamp’s natural joie de vivre had to be reined in a bit! He had to learn to do a SLOW recall.

My family and I are so thrilled to see Scamp on what is our very favorite series on TV. My husband Alastair is a fiercely patriotic Scot, with tartan blood in his veins! We were already huge fans but now we are even more so. Scamp has become quite the local celebrity!  In his day to day life, Scamp is the official mascot for our charity. He attends events and visits to schools and retirement homes where he is always very popular! At home he reigns supreme over his eight Golden girlfriends! Everyone is his friend. He is such a character. He also helped Pippa through her recovery after her major spinal surgery for scoliosis in 2011—she was determined to get back to doing agility for fun with him.”

–Fiona Clarkson R.V.N., Centre Manger, Dumfries and Galloway Canine Rescue Centre

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