Mary Queen of Scots director wanted the blockbuster filmed entirely in Scotland
The director of the new Mary Queen of Scots blockbuster has revealed it would have been filmed entirely in Scotland had the country had its own film studio.
Josie Rourke said the entire 53-day shoot would have deployed more locations around the country if a permanent facility had been available to film scenes with stars Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.
Rourke said the production team had spent “ages” trying to find a suitable base for the film where large-scale sets could be built - only to end filming pivotal scenes on location Derbyshire and Surrey.
Just three and a half weeks worth of filming was done in Scotland, at Blackness Castle, in West Lothian, Glencoe, Seacliff beach in East Lothian, and Glen Coe and Glen Feshie, in the West Highlands.
But the cast and crew were left at the mercy of the elements because there was no indoor studio facility available to use in the event of bad weather. Pinewood Studios in London was used as the main production base.
Film industry figures have warned for years that Scotland has been left lagging rival locations around Europe because of the lack of proper studio facilities.
The Scottish Government and new agency Screen Scotland have identified an empty warehouse in Leith Docks as the preferred option for a publicly funded studio.
Speaking ahead of the film’s Scottish premiere in Edinburgh, Rourke said: “It was amazing filming in Scotland.
“In order to film all the footage that we wanted we had to agree that we would shoot no matter what the weather was doing.
“We didn’t have what they call weather cover where you can go and film somewhere warm if the weather looks as it’s going to be really bad. But in the end we only last half a day.
“You’ve not opened any studios yet in Scotland, which would have been amazing.
“It would have made a gigantic difference. We would just have made come to Scotland and make the whole film here.
“We spent ages going: ‘Is there not somewhere we could use?’ There just wasn’t anywhere with a big enough footprint.
Meanwhile Rourke has defended the decision to film a pivotal scene in which the two lead characters in her film - Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, played by Ronan and Robbie respectively - face each other, even though historians believe they almost certainly never met in real life.
Rourke revealed that the two actors were kept completely apart during the production before cameras started rolling on the scene - which the director has compared to the iconic on-screen encounter between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Michael Mann’s film heat.
She said: “Nobody has ever told this story and not had them meet. There is a 200-year dramatic traditional of people doing it. People would be hounding me through the streets if we didn’t do it.
“It was quite a technically complex thing to do to keep Saoirse and Margot apart. On the day we shot it, which was Saoirse’s first day and last day, when these two great queens look each other in the eye for the first time and the reaction they both have, it was from the first take when they had seen each other for the first time in full make-up, costume and character.”