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Tetris in Aberdeen: working on a film set

With production taking place in the city, we get an insight into how the film industry is currently running.

by Amy Smith

Courtesy of Thomas Johnstone

As reported by The Gaudie in the previous two editions of the paper, the production for the upcoming film Tetris came up to the city of Aberdeen. The shoot, which lasted for a week, saw director Jon S. Baird and lead actor Taron Egerton travel across the city, filming in locations such as Seamount Court and our very own University of Aberdeen, shooting just outside the Zoology building. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to work on the set of Tetris during production in Aberdeen, and to get a real look into the work that goes into making a two-hour film.

My assigned role on set was Locations Marshall, which was something I was unfamiliar with before being told about the role when taking it on. Essentially, the role of the Locations Marshall is to make sure the set location is secure and keeping everyone aware of what is going on. This could be in the set itself, directing cast and crew members to a specific location or blocking off a bit of set if shooting is happening. It could also be at the side, where the barricades are blocking off access to the general public. Whilst our job is not to deal with any aggressive people, we are there to communicate with bypassers about what is going on and making sure everyone is aware of where they can and cannot go.

Of course, the situation right now is still not normal as filming is taking place during the pandemic and with tight lockdown restrictions. For the time I was helping out on set, I felt completely safe with all of the rules and restrictions that were in place. We were tested before going on set, as well as tested once more during the week. We were all given 3M masks on every shift to wear and were socially distanced throughout the shift. There were people who were concerned about the gathering of large crowds to watch the shooting, particularly outside of the Zoology building, but people were staying in their social bubbles and standing a good distance away from each other, with many people also opting to wear a face covering.

In terms of being on the film set, I learned so much from the experience. Firstly, I was surprised at how many takes is required to capture one scene. For one particular scene that was shot at Seamount Court, preparations for the scene started at 8am to prepare the rigging of a stunt. It was not until 1pm that the scene started to shoot. This particular shoot, which required shots with lighting, shots without lighting, shots up close, shots for the interior, shots for the exterior, shots that focused on the high windows etc., took three hours to complete. The amount of work that goes into a production like this is hard to grasp.

The reason productions of this size are able to get all of the work done and be as efficient as they are is down to teamwork. When working on any part of a film set, you are given a walkie talkie to communicate with your fellow co-workers. Even on just the Locations channel, it is clear the amount of communication that is needed for a smooth production. Even when issues arise, which did happen as the team lost a day of shooting in Aberdeen due to weather, the production team were able to talk through the issues and help the filming move along.

I am glad that the production of the film came to Aberdeen as it gave me a chance to work on a film set, but this will also be a boost for the city. It was clear from the first day of shooting that there was so much buzz for a film of this scale to choose Aberdeen to shoot in. It not only gives our city a bit of love and appreciation, but it also gives a boost to the economy, something that is much needed during these tough times. I hope more films and TV productions find value in the city of Aberdeen, because there is plenty to offer and to create more job opportunities for us film fans in the local area.

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