Film office for Edinburgh, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders

Back to Back in Old Town

11/06/18

In the Spring of 2017, Avengers: Infinity War brought superheroes to the Old Town with spectacular action sequences taking place around the Royal Mile, City Chambers and Parliament Square. It was a technical challenge on many levels with hundreds of local and international production services involved.

The Victim filming on St Giles Street

Fast forward to Spring 2018 and a new logistical challenge presented itself to the city and the same Old Town areas, with three productions looking to utilize these locations on the same schedule as each other.

First up was the second series of BBC Three’s hit drama, Clique. The six-part psychological thriller from Skins writer Jess Brittain aired last year on the online channel before transitioning to BBC One later in the year. Shot and based in the capital, it followed two friends, Holly and Louise, in their first year of university in Edinburgh where they soon found themselves drawn to an elite clique. The follow up series would continue in Edinburgh, this time shifting focus to Holly and her new boyfriend who may or may not be a bad boy.

Production week one saw Clique filming in the French Consulate and in the quadrangle of Edinburgh’s City Chambers with technical vehicles in West Parliament Square, returning two weeks later for scenes at the City Chambers and the Devil’s Advocate.

Meanwhile another BBC drama was putting together their schedule. Legal drama The Victim was planning its essential Edinburgh shots which needed to be packed into just three days of filming. The story called for the municipal buildings and narrow closes of the Old Town, with West Parliament Square as the hub for essential vehicles. Having such limited time in the city, the four-part thriller starring Kelly Macdonald and John Hannah, could film only on the same dates as Clique.

Gareth Jones crew outside Parliament Square

Thanks to good planning and coordination between productions and with the City of Edinburgh Council, both Clique and The Victim managed successfully to get what they needed while keeping Edinburgh running. The Victim arrived at West Parliament Square early in the day, filmed and left before Clique came in the evening and shot through the night. To bystanders it may have appeared to be one production shooting, however it was a carefully planned and seamlessly executed switch between the two.

Then came Agnieszka Holland’s feature film Gareth Jones, starring James Norton as the 1930s journalist. The Oscar-nominated Polish director was set to spend time in Edinburgh using exterior and interior locations to double as period London.

By the time this production arrived in town, pre-planned works at certain key locations including Parliament Square, and the requirements of other events in the city, necessitated flexibility in the shooting plans.

Fortunately Edinburgh’s wealth of historic properties in the city centre gave the team many suitable options. They were even able to add an extra days shooting, recreating a busy London street of the 1930’s, complete with horses and London bus, in our very own Moray Place. The final shot of the film was also sourced on Hill St in the New Town.

Gareth Jones filming inside Lothian Chambers

Andy Smith, Technician for the City of Edinburgh Council’s Planning and Transport department said:

“From Hollywood blockbusters to TV dramas and commercials, the key is coming to us early with plans or at least an outline of your desires as early as possible so that all those involved can help guide, advise and facilitate the eventual production to showcase all the Edinburgh has to offer”.

Martin Henderson, location manager for The Victim, said:

"I recently had the opportunity to shoot in Edinburgh for STV’s new 4-part drama, The Victim. I was apprehensive about shooting on The Royal Mile for 3 days, given how busy it is at this time of year. But it all went very well and that was in no small part down to excellent communications between our production and Edinburgh’s Film Office and City Council. We were kept informed of other goings-on in the city and this helped us schedule efficiently. We were advised about whose permission we needed at each location and received great assistance organising our parking and traffic management and all in all, as ever, I found Edinburgh’s Film Office and City Council to be the most film friendly in the country. I look forward to my next shoot in the capital.”