‘Autumn Leaves’ – Production Wrap


This past week has seen the 4-day production shoot of ‘Autumn Leaves’ come to its conclusion.   First of all I have to say, it’s the first film shoot that I’ve personally been involved in that has passed without any incidents, though I’m not sure if British Airways cancelling our actress Tracy Wiles’ flight from London on the morning of our 1-day rehearsal passes as an ‘incident’, as she still managed to get to Glasgow on time.  What luck we had!!

As mentioned, the day before filming began, myself and my main cast of 5 actors (Sean Scanlan, Ruaraidh Murray, Barbara Rafferty, Tracy Wiles and Samantha Shields),  gathered at the location for a read-through of the script followed by run-throughs of pretty much every scene involved.  Being that the film is centred in the one location; this made for an easier task.

Like all moments before filming begins, nervous excitement and pent-up energy is at a maximum level, so it was really great to have this rehearsal time with the actors, so we could iron out any problems with dialogue or misunderstanding of character motivations or intentions etc, so that when it came to filming, we all knew what was happening and what needed to be done.

Sean Scanlan and Ruaraidh Murray talking through their lines.

Sean Scanlan and Ruaraidh Murray talking through their lines.

Cast bringing the words to life!

Cast bring the words to life!

Ruaraidh and Sean acting it out in rehearsal.

Ruaraidh and Sean acting it out in rehearsal.

Barbara Rafferty and Sean Scanlan taking notes!

Barbara Rafferty and Sean Scanlan taking notes!


The first morning on set is always a killer because the environment is all new to each other and people are meeting for the first time, so time delays and racing against the clock is more than the order of the day.  But, admittedly, everything seemed to go like clock-work.

The first scenes to be shot were from Scene 3 of the script, in which the McMillan family come home and wake up Old Andrew (Sean Scanlan) who pretends to be asleep.  I wanted to spent some time on this scene because it is vital that I got across the notion that Old Andrew has moved in with them and that he’s invading their privacy, but it was also just as important to establish the character dynamics and relationships to each other.

For the scene to work,in regards to the overall film,  I had to show sympathy for Old Andrew, whilst at the same time, show the ‘tough love’ and scrutinisation he goes under from his son-in-law Sandy (Ruaraidh Murray).

Their relationship within the film is the core to the whole piece.

Old Andrew all alone!

Old Andrew all alone!

Jim directing Ruaraidh on how he should treat 'Old Andrew'.

Jim directing Ruaraidh on how he should treat ‘Old Andrew’.

Sandy having a go at Old Andrew

Sandy having a go at Old Andrew

The scene plays out as the two dominant male characters argue and bicker about life and politics!!  Oh and why ‘Old Andrew’ hasn’t got a clean cup of tea…?!  This creates a moment of respite for our poor female characters who have to sit and suffer the constant barrage of comical abuse.

In the kitchen, ‘Jean’ (Tracy Wiles) and daughter ‘Fiona’ (Samantha Shields) share a moment to reflect on the whole Scottish Referendum Debate and on what ‘Old Andrew’ was like in his younger days, before he turned in to “a crabbit old git”!!

Tracy Wiles as 'Jean' and Samantha Shields as dughter 'Fiona'.

Tracy Wiles as ‘Jean’ and Samantha Shields as dughter ‘Fiona’.

'Fiona' has something 'important' to tell her mum!

‘Fiona’ has something ‘important’ to tell her mum!

With a clean cup of fresh tea, the girls head back to the living-room where ‘Sandy’ and ‘Old Andrew’ continue their petty grievances.   It is only with the arrival of Mrs. McBride (Barbara Rafferty) from upstairs, and her invite to her party, do they allow themselves time to relax.

Mrs McBride takes none of Old Andrew's nonsense!

Mrs McBride takes none of Old Andrew’s nonsense!

Mrs McBride jokes with Jean and Fiona.

Mrs McBride jokes with Jean and Fiona.

Scene 7 of the film, in which Mrs McBride comes down and invites them to the party, had me slightly worried, as we filmed this on day 2, of which there would be 8 pages in total to cover that day (meaning to film and get finished).  The general rule of thumb is that 1 page of script = 1 minute of duration time, and that filming any more than 4 or 5 pages per day can be suicide.  But working with consumate professionals who bring so much to, not just their own character roles, but to the other’s and to the film in general, just makes things happen so much faster and for the better.  This was such a great day and a joy to be a part of.

Working with Barbara Rafferty for the one-day was so much fun, as she is humour incarnate and likes to bring more to the role than just what’s on the page.

Directing the performances.

Directing the performances.

Jim with Barbara, finding the character of Mrs McBride.

Jim with Barbara, finding the character of Mrs McBride.

Barbara and Ruaraidh sharing a laugh.

Barbara and Ruaraidh sharing a laugh.

Barbara and Sean relaxing off-set.

Barbara and Sean relaxing off-set.

Once filming had been completed, then it was cast and crew photo time as this was the day when everyone who was involved in some capacity was all involved together.

Cast and Crew....what a GREAT team!!!

Cast and Crew….what a GREAT team!!!

Can't forget our photographer Paul giving a Mexican 'stare'!!

Can’t forget our photographer Paul giving a Mexican ‘stare’!!

After Barbara had left, it was time to focus in on the meat and potatoes of the film; the clash of personalities between Sandy and his father-in-law Old Andrew.

This was were we had to build the emotional relationship between them both up to a crescendo; where at it’s climax, came the overall ‘heart’ of the film and it’s purpose.

Both Ruaraidh and Sean gave performances that I could only have dreamt of!!  To say I was pleased is the understatement of the century.  It was rather moving….!!

Sean and Ruaraidh in deep discussion.

Sean and Ruaraidh in deep discussion.

'Old Andrew' wallowing in self-pity.

‘Old Andrew’ wallowing in self-pity.

Old Andrew - Redemption abounds?

Old Andrew – Redemption abounds?

So as to not spoil the ending of the film, I shall resist and say no more!!!

So to end, I just want to thank everyone who got involved – to all my cast and crew, and to all who contributed and helped finance ‘Autumn Leaves’.  Every single one of you worked tirelessly and I’m proud of each and every single one of you.  It is a team effort and I am truly humbled by this experience and rank it as one of my favourite times ever.

Here’s to the editing process and to making sure I don’t let any of you down with that……!!

Here’s to you all:

Sean Scanlan as 'Old Andrew'.

Sean Scanlan as ‘Old Andrew’.

Ruaraidh Murray as 'Sandy'.

Ruaraidh Murray as ‘Sandy’.


Tracy Wiles as ‘Jean’ and Samantha Shields as ‘Fiona’.

Barbara Rafferty as 'Mrs McBride'.

Barbara Rafferty as ‘Mrs McBride’.

Director Jim with his full cast!

Director Jim with his full cast!

Alan C Mclaughlin - Director of Photography.

Alan C Mclaughlin – Director of Photography.

Alan McLean - Camera Assistant.

Alan McLean – Camera Assistant.

Marta Saint Tokarz - Gaffer

Marta Saint Tokarz – Gaffer

Paul McAuley - Photographer/Production Asst.

Paul McAuley – Photographer/Production Asst.

David McKeitch - Sound Designer

David McKeitch – Sound Designer

Remo Catani - 1st Assistant Director.

Remo Catani – 1st Assistant Director.

Deirdre Flanigan - Hair/Makeup Artist.

Deirdre Flanigan – Hair/Makeup Artist.

Katrina Lennox and Louise Creighton - Catering.

Katrina Lennox and Louise Creighton – Catering.

Scott Creighton - Locations / Unit Driver

Scott Creighton – Locations / Unit Driver

George Cummings - Co-Writer (author of the original play).

George Cummings – Co-Writer (author of the original play).

James Buchanan - Co-Writer/Producer/Director

James Buchanan – Co-Writer/Producer/Director

Stay tuned for more updates!!





‘AUTUMN LEAVES’ – Short Film Preview

Autumn Leaves Pic 1 template

After months of swaying and froing, and not knowing if I was coming or going, I’m pleased to say that my short film ‘Autumn Leaves’ is back on track and will commence filming from 26-29th June.  It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride getting it into production, due to rescheduling problems, budgetary restraints, re-jigging of crew and a recast of an actor, but all has been resolved and we’re full in to Prep mode.

Needless to say, much has been learnt before a camera has even begun rolling and I want to thank everyone who was involved in the project but no longer is and I want to welcome those who’ve jumped on board.  Let the madness begin… So what is this short film?

“As Scotland goes to the polls to decide the destiny of a nation, a Scots family humorously find themselves caught between hope and fear!”




‘Autumn Leaves’ is a short film adapted from the One-Act Play, ‘The Age of Miracles’, by George Cummings.

The original play was written in the early ’90’s and one of it’s very first stage productions featured our very own ‘Dr Who’, Peter Capaldi himself (probably in a role that he doesn’t remember much!!!!?).

Age of Miracles pic 001

The play differs from the film slightly in that the original story was set on Hogmanay of the new Millennium; and with this new dawn came a new reality – Scottish Independence.  Whereas the film we intend to make is set on the night of the referendum with no political outcome set.


The short film is a domestic comedy in the style of TVs ‘The Royle Family’ mixed with the sarcastic wit of ‘Frasier’ combined with the grumblings of Victor Meldrew’s ‘One Foot in the Grave’, set in a council estate in Glasgow.


It is the story of the McMillan family set on the night of the Scottish Independence Referendum, 18th September 2014.  It is a story about love and loss, about family disunity and forgiveness, and about the choices we make and accept in our daily lives.  It is about recognising what’s important to each of us individually, and in turn, helping to put aside petty differences and to stand up and fight for the life we think we each deserve.  It is the story of self discovery and reconciliation, not necessarily with others, but primarily with oneself.


Having withdrawing into himself after the death of his wife (5 years previously), Old Andrew, crabbit and self-centred, has moved in with, and imposed himself upon, his willing daughter Jean and her reluctant family –  husband Sandy and daughter Fiona.

As tensions build up and sarcasm boils over in to biting honesty, often culminating in hilarious and much needed home truths being spewed like verbal tennis between Old Andrew and his son in law, Sandy, old wounds are raised up and their relationship is brought to a head, not helped in the least by their differing political persuasions.

As the political polls near their conclusions, the family are gladly interrupted by the lively Mrs. McBride from upstairs, who’s invited them all, even “Old skin-flint” Andrew, up for a “wee shindig” to celebrate the results coming in, but moreso, her coming birthday.

This welcoming diversion is sneered at by Old Andrew who is too proud and set in his ways to join in.  Will he change his mind?  Can he reconnect with his wanting family?  Can he reconcile with the past for a brighter future?


With this cast I am truly blessed and honoured to be working alongside some of the great actors in the history of Scotland’s Film, Television and Theatre productions.

A cast of this dynamism and versatility, with such combined emotional, dramatic and comedic experience,  will bring ‘Autumn Leaves’ truly to life.


Sean Scanlan as Old Andrew (‘The Tales of Para Handy’, ‘Rab C Nesbitt’)

Sean Scanlan 1

Sean Scanlan as ‘Old Andrew’


Barbara Rafferty as Mrs.McBride (‘Rab C Nesbitt’, ‘The Last King of Scotland’, ‘Hamish Macbeth’)

Barbara Rafferty as 'Mrs. McBride'

Barbara Rafferty as ‘Mrs. McBride’


Ruaraidh Murray as Sandy (‘Big Sean, Mikey and Me’, ‘Bath Time’, ‘Boxman’)

Ruaraidh Murray as 'Sandy'

Ruaraidh Murray as ‘Sandy’


Tracy Wiles as Jean (‘Bronson’, ‘Swinging with the Finkels’, ‘Soapdodgers’)

Tracy 1

Tracy Wiles as ‘Jean’


Samantha Shields as Fiona (‘The Wee Man’, ‘Wild Country’)

Samantha Shields as 'Fiona'

Samantha Shields as ‘Fiona’


As mentioned above, due to having to re-schedule the shoot, I had to replace ‘River City’ and ‘Small Faces’ actress Carmen Pieraccini with Tracy Wiles, as Carmen had planned a month trip to India; which clashed with our new dates, unfortunately, but we are more than excited about working with Tracy again, whom I directed in my Award Winning short film, ‘Soapdodgers’.

Carmen Pieraccini

Carmen Pieraccini



‘Autumn Leaves’ deals primarily with grief over a life gone and fear over a life yet to live.  It is this dichotomy of hope and fear; set against the backdrop of the Scottish Independence Referendum, that stands ultimately as the main focus point, of not just the McMillan family, but Scotland and the UK as a whole.  After years of disconnection, isolation and fear of change, how does a person get their sense of self-worth, self-preservation and autonomy back?  What’s more important?  Pride and/or political differences, or love and the family way? Does it all really matter? And at what cost?


Once filming has been completed it will be off to the edit suite for a good few weeks to put it together and once it’s locked and finished, there’ll be a screening of sorts at the GFT in Glasgow then hopefully a TV commission in time for the actual Referendum.  We can but hope and work to make it happen….so watch this space.

Many thanks to all who lent their support, either physically or financially in keeping this project alive.  Words can’t describe my indebtedness to you all, especially those who pledged at our Kickstarter site:


and to those over at http://wingsoverscotland.com/

Will keep you all posted with daily blogs and pictures and stories once filming begins!!



DAY 2 – ‘Not Long Till Monday’


Having survived the madness of yesterday, we woke up tired and ready for the assault on Paisley Town Centre square to film our reaction shots to the phone conversation as Paul walks through the main square, past the statues and up the stairs!  Luckily we had help from Paul’s friend Craig – a fireman (so build like the side of a house and crazy with it) – who was also our actor for our driver scene later on in the day.

We hit the main square about 10am, in the rain, set up our shots, and just fired them out!  Not the best of weather for it but we’d rather just bosh something out than have nothing!

Paisley in the sun - which we didn't have!!

Paisley in the sun – which we didn’t have!!

Job done and hassle free…..yas yas yas yas!!!

Typical…as soon as we finished all the shots, the sun eventually comes out!!  Ahhh the wonders of the Scottish climate!  Damn you!

Next stop, the Old Mill for some nice tracking shots by the river and waterfall!  But NOooooooooo!!  There were fisherman blocking our main shots so that was out of bounds!!  HEAVY SIGH!!

Old Mill location

Old Mill location

Next, we’ll just head over to Morrison’s Car Park and get our angry driver shots – a scene in which Paul steps in front of a car, narrowly getting hit but getting an earful of torrid abuse!

Supermarket clock.

Supermarket clock.

With  the sun now out, we got rigged up and fired these out of the ball park – DONE!!    A few establishing shots later and a quick drive up to Barshaw Park for another wide shot of Paul walking up hill to the forest.

Back home for a quick rest, tea and biscuits and then off to Seedhill 5-aside football pitches for more shots.  We acquired the help from some of the boys from Renfrew Utd, to have a mock game, where I could film some of the jostling and banter.

Being astro-turf it’s the not the best idea to do running slide tackles – which Paul did, so he looks like he needs a skin graft on his right peg!! hahaha anything for the film!!



The fishermen were still at our Old Mill location, so that’s put on ice for another day – just like Paul’s leg!!

Day 2 in the can!

DAY 1 – Scene 1 Take 1 madness


Having shot a few Takes last night of a quick cutaway pub scene at the Bull Inn in Paisley, as a prelude to the actual week if filming, today was our official start date and what a typical Scottish start!

As most know, the first day of shooting is always awkward , as everyone involved gets used to each other and the film itself and methods of working…well we started right out if the block with a belter!!!!

Scene 1 Take 1 – rehearsal done; filming Paul giving a beggar (Ally) some spare change and a brief chat!!

Getting ready for Scene 1 Take 1

Getting ready for Scene 1 Take 1


About to press record when suddenly, “Haw yooos, whit ye’s dain” (translated as – “hey guys, what are you filming?”) we see coming over the hill, ie, across the road from their crack den, a couple of drugged up BAMS waddling with intent in our direction!

CLICK!! Camera off!! All our attention focused on our gear as we try to strongly persuade them to leave us in peace to get on with our jobs!!! NO CHANCE!!

Scene 1 Take 1 The Walking Dead.

Scene 1 Take 1 The Walking Dead.

After trying for about 10 minutes to explain to them that we’re doing a short film for no money and trying to do something with ourselves for a charitable reason and for Mental Health awareness issues….we were still getting hassled and obviously getting nowhere…..oh well!!!

Mobile out, police phoned!

Polis phoned!!

Polis phoned!!

In the meantime it was made aware that a previous film crew from a reputable TV programme, apparently, paid them 50 quid to leave them alone!! Needless to say, I told them I wouldn’t give them 50 pence!! With my steel toecaps on and my eyes fixed squarely at their gurning jaws, I was having none of it and ready for action.

Dealing with the BAMS! Unamused.

Dealing with the BAMS! Unamused.

In no short time, the police arrived, sorted out the junkie bams and we just flew through the scene and got out of Dodge!!

Scene 1 Take 1 in the can!!

We further filmed a few shots in the local corner shop then a living room scene at Paul’s before turning in for the day!!

What a start!!

The best is still to come tomorrow as we film in Paisley town centre…bring it!!

Filming of ‘Not Long Till Monday’ Short Film Preview

As of Saturday 15th March, I’ll be filming (DoP) a short film called ‘Not Long Till Monday’, written and directed by Paul McAuley.  It’s a story focussing on mental health issues and is primarily targeted towards the upcoming mental health film festival, of which details will soon come.  The story is a day-in-the-life look at an ordinary Joe who’s life is normal, wife, children, successful job, but internally suffers from depression, possibly ADHD, or is Bipolar, and how this affects his views of, not only himself, but the world around him.

We’ll be filming internal/externally around the Paisley area; town centre (various locations) and up the Gleniffer Braes.

Some recce location photos:

For the film shoot, I will be using a Canon 600D, with various Lenses (50mm – f1.4, 18-55mm, 80-200mm).  I also acquired the eimo DSLR shoulder mount rig with follow focus, matte box and follow focus from Amazon.co.uk.(Here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CA5KMCY/ref=pe_385721_37038051_TE_3p_dp_1 )

eimp shoulder rig 1 eimp shoulder rig 2

I was a bit apprehensive at first as the cost (at a very low price of £130) seemed too good to be true, in other words, cheap and plastic.  But having arrived today, I’ve set it up and I’m quite surprised at how sturdy it is.  For what we’re doing and the no budget we have, this was always going to be a Charlie Sheen winner, compared to the high-end equipment, which would cost hundreds/thousands itself.

But I’ll let you know how I get on with it and its ease of use.

Sound wise, it’s a bit of an issue – I’d obviously love a high end Sennheiser mic or a Rode NTG-3 with shock mount and a proper boom pole, but needs and budgets must, we ain’t got that!!  Obviously the on-board mics on pretty much all DSLR’s are pure mince, so external audio with sync to picture is a must.  For this we have a Zoom H2N for recording audio.

We done an initial recce of all the locations and I done a few quick floor plans, just to understand where we could block the action and possible camera moves and angles.

IMG_2339 IMG_2341

Another visit this coming week for another full-on look and rehearsal is definitely required before shooting begins.

A KEY thing before beginning any production of any sort is to gather a list of film references that could enhance your ideas, whether visually or narratively.  Here is a list I initially came up with that I thought could inform us throughout this film;

‘Following’ (1998) – Chris Nolan, ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ (1995) – Mike Figgis, ‘The Seventh Continent’ (1989) – Michael Haneke, ‘The Virgin Suicides (1999) – Sofia Coppola, ‘I Stand Alone’ (1998) – Gasper Noe, ‘The Piano Teacher’ (2001) – Michael Haneke, ‘Mulholland Drive’ (2001) – David Lynch, ‘Mouchette’ (1967) – Robert Bresson, ‘Last Days’ (2005) – Gus Van Sant, ‘Le Feu Follet (The Fire Within)’ (1963) – Louis Malle, ‘Wristcutters: A Love Story’ (2006) – Goran Dukic, ‘A  Single Man’ (2009) – Tom Ford, A Serious Man’ (2009) – Coen Brothers, ‘Girl, Interrupted’ (1999) – James Mangold, ‘Taste of Cherry’ (1997) – Abbas Kiarostami, ”night, Mother’ (1986) – Tom Moore, ‘Harold and Maude’ (1971) – Hal Ashby, ‘Lilya 4-Ever’ (2002) – Lukas Moodysson, ‘My Own Private Idaho’ (1991) – Gus Van Sant, ‘Control’ (2007) – Anton Corbijn, ‘Eden Lake’ (2008) – James Watkins, ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ (2004) – Shane Meadows, ‘Wild Bill’ (2011) – Dexter Fletcher, ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ (2011) – Lynne Ramsay, ‘Shame’ (2011) – Steve McQueen, ‘One Hour Photo’ (2002) – Mark Romanek, ‘Falling Down’ (1993) – Joel Schumacher.

That’s it for now, but I’ll try and do a daily blog once we start shooting and post our progress.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!!  Bring it!!