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Was this sleet? Yes, coming sideways mixed with hail stones. Turning away from the gale force gusts, you could hear the sharp pitter-patter of ice pellets hitting your back. Welcome to filming in Scotland.

We were on the hills round Talla Reservoir, making a new TV and cinema commercial for Scottish Water. We’d brought along a 25-foot crane with a 6-person crew. The plan had been for a majestic rising shot of the hills to open the ad. That wasn’t going to happen. The safe operating wind speed for the crane is 25mph and, thanks to Storm Isha, the wind hadn’t dropped below 45mph all day. The crane crew and their kit sat glumly in their vans.

The rest of the crew had been valiantly shooting in and round the weather all day. Fortunately, the camera can’t see the wind. Except for the clouds scudding across the sky like time lapse, it just looked a little overcast when it wasn’t pouring with rain.


In what should have been the golden hour, we’d set up to knock off a nice shot of a woman running round the reservoir track.

The commercial was meant to have been filmed in summer. Now, with media booked, it had become urgent. On the recce two days before, the weather was cold but beautiful: clear blue skies, sun on snow topped hills.


Now everything was grey, grey and grey. It was -2 degrees but, with wind chill and sleet, it felt like -10. Huddled behind a few trees, we waited and waited and waited for the weather to change. It was grim.

With no sign of less sleet, the director called it. “F- this,” I believe was the technical term used. The crew dismantled the camera kit and trudged back to the vans. And then the sun came out.


We ran back to the location and knocked off the shots. And then it began snowing. Sideways.

The next two days shooting in a green screen studio gave us all a chance to thaw out. Upstairs the photographer was bashing out beautiful portraits of people who worked for Scottish Water and we shuffled the cast between stills and film shoots.

Then we were off to Glencoe to film a Scottish Water electric van coming along the ‘James Bond Skyfall Road’. This time the crane crew actually got out of the vans and helped create magical moving shots. Even in the mist and rain, the Scottish landscape looks breathtaking.

Then all we had to do was composite, grade and edit the film; add in music written by Robbie McSkimming and Femke, produced by legendary Scottish songsmith James Grant with strings by the Scottish Ensemble and a Celtic touch from piper Robyn Ada Mckay, with voices and sound design recorded at Finiflex, et voilà – a lovely new commercial proudly espousing Scotland’s world class water and Scottish Water’s status as the only publicly owned water company in the UK.

From such a grey, gale force, dispiriting start, it all came together quite nicely we think. Hope you agree.


Huge thanks to all the cast and crew for going above and beyond.

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