13 Oct 2019

Day one, or as we call it, The Hurricane.

There are many stories to be told

13 Oct 2019

There are many stories to be told about the making of MONSTERHUNTER, the highs, the lows, the tears and the joy.

Luckily for a lot of the time we were accompanied by a second film unit. Their job was to try and capture some of the behind the scenes madness.
Now that the actual ten minute film is out in the public domain some of the edited highlights that they recorded are being released. This is a glimpse into day one of filming.

But first, I’d like to give you an idea as to just how I was feeling on that morning.
We had spent the previous three days scouting out the locations, Alex the director in the passenger seat, Josh the camera genius in the back, and me guiding the two of them around. It was during these first few days that we started to get to know each other, and to form a bond, a bond built on humour.

This was the easy bit, visiting all my favourite spots hidden corners that might just fit what they were looking for, revisiting some of the most beautiful parts of the Highlands. As it turned out all the chosen locations can be found on the south side of the Loch, which is something that pleases me greatly – this is the part of the Loch that I love the most and also where I have made my home for nearly three decades.

Anyway, soon enough it was time to get the cameras out. Day one of filming was to be a pre dawn rendezvous up on the Struie viewpoint – a spectacular vantage point where the road reaches its highest, most exposed  crest on the way to Fort Augustus, a fantastic vista for a dawn shot of me cycling over a mountain… In theory.

So here I was, up on the viewpoint at the scheduled meeting time of 6am, still dark outside and blowing a gale… Unfortunately it turned out that I was early, by over an hour. Whilst sitting in my car, waiting for everyone else to arrive I had plenty of time to write down a few thoughts, and observations. Here is my note to myself written in my car, whilst I waited, in the dark, on top of a mountain, in a bloody hurricane…..

Well it must be four days since this mad crew arrived I guess, they turned up last Monday, it’s now 6.27 am on Friday.

I am currently sat here, in the dark, waiting. I’ve been up here half an hour already , the rest of the crew, are on the other side of Inverness, about an hours drive away…. Running late.

It’s pitch black outside, my heater in the car hasn’t worked for over a year, which reminds me I really must get that fixed, and we are currently experiencing the tail end of hurricane (don’t know the name)… Callum?

It would be hard to open my car door right now, let alone try to stand up out there, and I have absolutely no wish to attempt either. The rain’s not actually landing its sort of shooting straight past me, and at its angle it will probably not touch the mountainside for at least the next half mile.

It is ferocious! 

This is not a good place to be!

The reason I am up here at this ungodly hour, and why the bloomin’ film crew should be too, is because this is supposed to be the first morning of filming. The idea is a beautiful long shot of me riding down the hill on a vintage butchers bike, as the sun just peaks over the horizon. Filmed majestically by a drone.

The reality is nobody’s turned up, I can’t get out of the car and the weather is set to get much worse, rapidly. 

Bit of luck they will take one look at this horrendous situation , and reschedule this cycling shot, this can’t be the image that they are after can it? Only a lunatic would be out there on a pushbike in this nightmare weather!

The next shot scheduled for after this is me in chest waders, fly fishing in a fast flowing river. Try standing up! let alone fishing! who goes fishing in a hurricane… Oh wait, a lunatic.

Somebody has really not thought this through.And it wasn’t me, a crew this size should have a person who’s soul purpose is to look at a flippin’ weather forecast.

Update…. I’ve just phoned Alex the director whose now officially an hour late, to tell him that I don’t feel particularly safe even siting in my car up here. His response?….. “that’s what we want Steve, that’s what we want”.

A short while later the crew started arriving, I took out my phone and recorded this piece of video…

Not content with that, I then went on to record another short piece of video, (I would have edited them together but my laptop has just given up and died).

The second camera crew were covering events up on that hilltop as well – here’s what they managed to capture. It begins to show what images Alex had in mind…. The hellish life of a monster hunter.

Even though the experience was extremely unpleasant at the time, I can now see the magic that Alex was trying to convey, the sheer horror of what my life must be like.

As it turned out we would be back up at that predawn viewpoint three more times before Alex was finally happy with all the shots he got, which is why in the final MONSTERHUNTER film the weather in some of the cycling scenes looks quite lovely. The opening shot of me pushing the butchers bike up the road is probably the worst that morning got, the close-up immediately following it gives some clue as to how miserable I was feeling.

And if Alex ever talks about the hell that was that mountain top in that hurricane, bear this in mind, he was lying in the back of a slow moving Land rover, boot open, directing josh on the camera, who was also in the relative comfort of the back of that car… Bear that in mind when you ponder the expression on my face.

Bloody luxury!

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