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A Day of Filming in the Glorious Highlands

A couple of months ago we were driving through Glen Shiel (a gorgeous spot in the Scottish Highlands not too far from our workshop) on a misty, moody day and we decided there and then that we needed to film something there to capture it. We hadn’t released a new makeup video in a while so we thought that would be an ideal excuse to start movie making.

Glen Shiel
Glen Shiel; an awe inspiring place

The first How To videos we made back in 2009 didn’t have movie sequences – or music! When we filmed the application of our Hospital Zombie Prosthetic, we realised the door our model was standing next to looked like something from a medical facility, so after the makeup was done we got him to stumble through it into the sunlight; low and behold, it looked like a shot from The Walking Dead, and we had established our own style of makeup video where we showed a movie scene (or as we call it a ‘vignette’) so our viewers can see the prosthetics in action and see how our products can look in their own productions.

Bringing Game of Thrones to the Highlands

The landscape in Glen Shiel immediately made us think of Game of Thrones. It was epic and mysterious. As luck would have it we were already in the middle of producing some prosthetics which, if applied to the right person would be reminiscent of The Mountain in his zombie state – we called them our Decayed Flesh Prosthetics (available now in our shop). We found our own man mountain in a local named Hamish Moir and decided to have him rising from a loch in ethereal surroundings. Our first choice for a loch to film at was Loch Killin, a beautiful, secluded spot not far from Loch Ness (Loch Ness itself had also been a consideration but this was the height of the tourist season and would have been far too busy from all the best angles). Our location manager Ryan Lancaster suggested we try Loch Kemp instead; it was equally secluded and beautiful but had the added bonus of being more easily accessible and there was even a small cabin on the site where our cameraman could stow his gear and Hamish could warm up between takes. It was perfect. Our location liaison Russell Bain got the permissions we needed to film there and we were ready to go.

Loch Kemp
Loch Kemp; an ideal filming location

We took a day in Glen Shiel to get shots of the misty mountains for the opening of the vignette. Luckily, the sunny morning gave way to a drizzly afternoon and we were able to get the moody opening shots we needed to set our scene.

The Day of Filming

It was an early start on a Saturday morning when we rolled into the workshop to apply and film Hamishs’ makeup application. The first thing we had to do was get him into a kilt, wrapped around him in the old style – not the type you buy off the peg these days, but a single length of fabric that is laid on the ground and pleated before the wearer lies down on it, the fabric is wrapped around them and the whole thing is held in place with nothing more than a belt… you can see why we needed to do this before applying prosthetics!

After a couple of hours in the makeup chair, Hamish was ready to go. We loaded up the truck and took him out in sunglasses and a black hoodie in an attempt to hide his face from passers-by… we didn’t want him frightening small children! It took about an hour and a half to get to the location and as we approached we saw a plume of smoke coming from the loch. That’s when we knew our crew was already there, firing up smoke machines and camera kit. Our cameraman, Steve Nelson had driven up from England two days earlier. and being the consummate pro, he was ready to shoot the moment we arrived.

The day was long but every minute was productive; Hamish spent hours dunking himself in the chilled loch never complaining once. Ryan ran back and forth on the shore like a mad man, waving a smoke machine and creating our ethereal mist. Steve lined up shot after shot, filmed on a Red Epic Dragon camera (the same kind used to film Prometheus) and even stayed calm when, during one of his chest high wades into the water for close ups, he tripped over backwards, almost submerging the eye-wateringly expensive camera in the Loch. Thankfully even though his vision was obscured by a hood, Hamish ‘safe hands’ Moir grabbed the kit and saved the day… phew!

Hamish Catches the Camera
Hero Hamish catches the camera and saves the day!

Despite a hellish midge invasion at one point that made Hamishs’ legs look like a well used dart board, everyone ploughed through the day and we got all the shots we needed, filmed at 100fps to give us crisp, hi-res slow motion shots that looked incredible. We reviewed each major take as we went, and everyone was excited about what we had captured. We were eager to get wrapped up, get Hamish out of makeup and get to a computer screen so we could see what we had filmed in all its glory.

3am, pizza and beer

Steve was leaving for England the next day and still had the job of processing, colour timing and converting every single take to prepare them for editing. So, after a full day of makeup and filming, pizza was ordered, the beers came out and the eyes were propped open with matchsticks while the process ran into the early hours. Steve left for England after an amazing amount of hard work, and now we could start the edit.

Ancient Warrior
Long days, hard work, totally worth it

Another week of pizzas, beers and 3am finishes resulted in the video below. Sometimes when we’re making our videos, we are asked “is it worth it?” We often ask ourselves that question when we are tired and angry at some technology or other that’s in the way of us finishing the project, but the answer all the way through this one was a solid YES. From the first shots we took of those mountains, we knew we were going to create something epic; we knew that we had actually managed to translate the lofty concept that we had in our heads into something real, something we could be proud of and something that would represent Nimba Creations perfectly. We couldn’t have done it without Ryan, Steve, Russell and Jade (our hard working lab tech who cast the prosthetics and held down the fort while the rest of us were getting eaten alive by midges in a loch).

Tom and Hamish
Tom and Hamish review the footage on location

So, here is our full video including the makeup application (you can buy our Decayed Flesh prosthetics here). We kind of love it.

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

We love hearing from Nimba Creations customers, Cosplayers, Actors, Movie Makers and Makeup FX artists at every stage of their career. If you’ve got a question or comment about our products, Makeup FX or want to show off your lastest creation you can contact us via our Facebook Page.

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