Whether you're shooting and posting in Edinburgh, Glasgow or London, production talent north of the border shouldn'...
Whether you're shooting and posting in Edinburgh, Glasgow or London, production talent north of the border shouldn't be left off your decision list - but who are the most asked-for names in Scotland? Michael Burns asked the nation's trade bodies, production companies, broadcasters and facilities who the top talents on their books are. These are the results: Kahl Henderson and Savalas - Sound Editing
Kahl Henderson started up Savalas in a Glasgow bedroom with two friends in 1996, after he had paid his sound post-production dues at STV for five years. Times and location have certainly changed as the highly successful team have recently completed work on Michael Palin and the Mystery of Hammershoi for BBC1 in their state-of-the-art studios. "We're working on a six-part comedy series for Radio Scotland and Ken Stott is coming to shoot ADR for the new series of Messiah," adds Henderson. "Our regular TV work comes from our core clients and it varies from documentaries to education, children's, Gaelic language and commercials."
Aspects of the job vary. "On a commercial I can be responsible for creating an entire soundtrack from scratch," says Henderson. "On a documentary it can be augmenting what is already there, retaining, almost forensic restoration of location audio."
"Savalas must be the top post-production team in Scotland," says Elemental Films producer Owen Thomas. "Its work is world class and its innovation and ambition in opening the only Dolby mix studio in Scotland is exemplary."
Contact: www.savalas.co.ukJohn Cobban - Sound Designer
Cobban describes a sound designer's job as "creating an overall feel for a film or programme, and to coherently put together all the sounds - be it music, sound effects, dialogue and be creative with it". As the client list for his Glasgow dubbing and sound design studio the Base, shows, this philosophy seems to have struck gold. In production terms, his current output is 50:50 film and TV work.
"The great thing about doing both is that they're completely different beasts," says Cobban. "You're working on different dynamic and creative scales. Quite often I spend a lot of time editing dialogue for television to make things a bit clearer, while for film I tend to create more moods and effects, trying to make the film flow.
Regular client Forged Films producer Nigel R Smith sings Cobban's praises adding that his work on CBBC series Intergalactic Kitchen - a 13 x 25-minute space adventure sitcom which aired last year - was "extraordinary".
; www.thebase.tvNeville Kidd - DoP/Cameraman
Neville Kidd is well versed in drama and docs, be it a disaster drama set in India one week or following Michael Palin on his travels the next.
Filming fishing series Hooked on Scotland
for BBC Scotland in 1989 was his first major TV project, but since going freelance in 1995 Kidd has branched out into drama and is also working on bigger network series for BBC ( Omnibus
) and Channel 4 ( Equinox
, Nigella Bites
, Escape from River Cottage
and Grand Designs
). "All the jobs I do are different, have their own challenges and are always enjoyable," says Kidd who is described by IWC Media deputy head of production Nicky Murphy as "just about the best cameraman/DoP you can get".
Kidd feels that although the broadcast industry in Scotland has a lot of very talented crafts and production people "the problem is that London productions just don't know who they are".
However, plenty seem to know who Kidd is. He's just finished shooting a BBC1 drama about the Estonia ferry disaster. Coming up is a Simon Schama arts documentary on Turner and a Scots language doc for the BBC.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgRachel Bevan Baker - Animator
An award-winning animator, Rachel Bevan Baker started her broadcast career as an animator-in-residence at MOMI in 1997. Commissioned by Channel 4, she created Beelines
, a six-minute drawn animation. With producer Ken Anderson she set up the Red Kite studio in Edinburgh and gradually the short films got longer. After Beelines
came a 12-minute film for BBC Alba/Channel 4 International entitled The Green Man of Knowledge
, which served as Scotland's contribution to a 26-part international series called The Animated Tales of the World
. A Creative Scotland Award from the Scottish Arts Council allowed Bevan Baker to develop new ideas and styles, as well as introduce more technology such as Flash into her animation. A half-hour Christmas special for C4, Oscar Wilde Trilogy: The Selfish Giant
, followed in 2003, commissioned by Lupus Films.
As Red Kite's creative director, Bevan Baker is constantly busy, between directing and developing animated TV series like Katie Morag
, working on commercials and running educational workshops, but she somehow also finds time to raise a family.
Contact: Red Kite Productions www.redkite-animation.comCarole K Millar - Costume Designer
Paisley-born Carole K Millar started as a costume designer 12 years ago at Glasgow's King's Theatre, shortly after graduating with an honours degree in textile design and a clutch of awards. TV work soon followed, with a first major role on drama series Cardiac Arrest
. Millar splits her time between feature films (12 to date in Scotland alone, including three with Ken Loach), commercials and TV drama. Her position as costume designer on Monarch of the Glen for the past two years means that last year alone she created wardrobes for 86 different characters.
"Millar is always in demand," says Owen Thomas, a producer at Elemental Films. "Great fun, she has exceptional intuition and sensitivity towards character. She also knows what a budget is."
Contact: email@example.comGrant Mason - Prosthetics/Physical Effects
Grant Mason is often to be found casting and moulding corpses, in fact his first major Scottish project was the prosthetic effects for Shallow Grave
. He's also responsible for effects work on Trainspotting
(remember that immensely disturbing animatronic baby?) and on Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down
. His more gentle creations grace the sets of Monarch of the Glen
and BBC kids show Bits 'n' Bobs
, among others.
"I started out working at Pinewood Studios after getting a portfolio together and approaching any effects company there in 1988," says Mason. "It could be better with more effects work in Scotland if only to show people that it can be done here rather than going to London."
Contact: Grant Mason FX, www.grantmasonfx.comPaul Leonard-Morgan - Composer
Paul Leonard-Morgan was working on TV theme music for STV even as he graduated in film music in 1995 from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Appropriately enough for someone who deals with sound, his career took off thanks to word-of-mouth, with the BBC following STV's lead in hiring the composer. Leonard-Morgan has recently finished scoring the soundtrack for ITV series The Brief
. "We [Rage Music] must have done over 20 themes for various networks this year," says Leonard Morgan. "We've also scored five or six documentaries, done numerous advertisements, and worked with God knows how many bands." He's also found time to record his first album, Filmtales
"People have so many stresses with their projects, I think it helps if you can make the job of composition as hassle-free as possible," he says of his working ethos. "The soundtrack always comes towards the end of a project, and I figure it should be a fun process - the creative time spent with a director and producer can be one of the most rewarding times out."
; www.ragemusic.co.ukNeil Mackay - 3D Artist/Designer
Neil Mackay works in Glasgow and has always done so, starting out well over 20 years ago at the BBC. As technology improved, he progressed to become an advanced maya designer and 3D animator for major UK and international clients. As senior graphics designer for Picardy since 1998, his role continued as head of design when the company was taken over by Barcud Derwen in 2003 and became Arc Facilities.
"It's a myth that you have to go south to make progress," says Mackay. "I've always found the skills and talents in Scotland are every bit as impressive. The problem is the misconception that things are better in London. Unfortunately some agencies believe that and take their big budgets away."
Mackay's work is "rich and varied" ("with perhaps less emphasis on 'rich'"), ranging from high-end commercials to intricate map animations to architectural visualisations to comedy special effects.
"At the moment I'm preparing 22 map sequences for Location, Location, Location
and animating some background links for Lesbian Moments
. No job is ever the same," he says.
Contact: Arc Facilities, www.arcfacilities.comDamien Smith and ISO - Motion Graphics/Title Design
Damien Smith is a founder member of ISO Design, a Glasgow-based collective. The company started in 1999 and expanded from specialising in TV titles design to encompass series branding, programme content and channel identities. ISO now also produces commercials and large-scale interactive video projects.
"Over 75% of our work comes from outside Scotland," says Smith. "Location doesn't appear to limit ambition. The size and concentration of the industry here makes cross-collaboration between people in different creative areas easy."
Currently working on creating the channel identity and all on-screen graphics for E4 Music, 3D stereovision films for Mercedes, and an eight-part animated series for BBC1, Smith says the start of any job involves a creative session where concepts are developed together by all the partners.
Contact: ISO Design, www.isodesign.co.ukAndy Harris - Production designer
Andy Harris started his production design career at Thames Television, then returned to Scotland and started working freelance in broadcast and film in 1982. Harris says his interest is drama, whether TV or film. "I look at the script and who the director and producer are to see whether I will take the job," he adds. Recently Harris has had substantial work in Scotland with the BBC and now STV. Currently shooting SMG TV crime drama Rebus
in Glasgow, Harris's recent credits include The Strange Case of Dr Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes
(BBC Scotland) and Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
(BBC Northern Ireland).
According to Harris, the most important qualities for getting ahead are calmness, organisation, enthusiasm and achieving things that might not seem achievable. "As a designer you have to be able to read the script and visualise how the production could be made," he says.
Contact: ICM (agent) 020 7870 0941; email: firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Nominators:
IWC Media: Nicky Murphy, Elspeth O'Hare, Sue Oriel. Tern TV: Angela Smith, Harry Bell. Red Kite: Ken Anderson. SMG TV: Agnes Wilkie, Henry Eagles. Canary Films: Ann Reilly. Goat Media: Katrina McPherson. Asylum Pictures: Robin McPherson. Raging Star: Gill Parry. Mead & Kerr: Clare Kerr. Forged Films: Nigel R Smith. Automoni: Marie Olesen. Republic Productions: Marnie Anderson. Smuji Films: Pete Martin. Scope Productions: Laura Kingwell. Red Point Productions: Saskia Anley-McCallum. Elemental Films: Owen Thomas. Skillset: Michele Dillon, Mark Leese. Pact: Sarah Jane Kerr. Arc Facilities/Barcud Derwen (Scotland): Brian Suttie. BBC Scotland: Donald-Iain Brown. The Research Centre: Carol Sinclair. Edinburgh Media Base: Paul Ryan.