Exclusive: The Crews commentary with Colin Ross Smith

Jonathan Melville 6 December, 2011 0

Stephen McCole in The Crews

Stephen McCole in The Crews

Following ReelScotland’s interview with Colin Ross Smith, co-creator of Glasgow-based crime drama, The Crews, it became clear that there was much to be said about the series that didn’t fit into the traditional interview format.

As a result, we asked Colin to write a short introduction for each episode up to and including Episode Five, which went online on 3 December 2011. Complementing the original interview, it offers more of an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of a no budget drama.

Viewers are advised to start with Colin’s short film, Sandwich, which puts some events from The Crews into context:

Episode One: The Dutch Connection

Watch out for the falling Dutchman in the chase sequence of Episode One. We didn’t intended for Humphrey to fall whilst filming Jake Ferguson’s chase sequence. The smallest of the Dutch heavies was running so hard he misplaced his footing and tumbled over. It was all rather hairy, but he was able to shake it off and returned to the shoot.

We adapted the chase as if to make it look like his falling helped Jake outrun them that bit further. We had to go back and film a pick up shot of Humphrey being picked up again. You can actually tell it was filmed a little later as the sun light/shadow changes ever so slightly.

Episode Two: The Old Firm

Early in Episode Two we see a tracking shot through the snooker club in Dennistoun. Being of a low budget nature these shots were achieved by placing the Director of Photography and camera into a shopping trolley acquired from Somerfield shopping centre. The results of the shots show up like a new penny, and hardly cost a penny either. The shopping trolley cost £1 to take out and we got our pound back so it was essentially the worlds cheapest trolley shot.

Episode Three: The Young Team

It became a recurring theme that The Crews filmed in various locations that eventually shut down. In episode one the distillery at the Port Dundas Canal scene was threatened with closure. I’m not sure if it did close, but I know there was a petition put out to stop it closing. In episode three we feature a scene that was filmed in the car park of Woolworths in Parkhead. Several months after filming, Woolworths went bust. I worked there at the time and was able to get filming access.

Also the pub that was used for Ramsays in The Crews and Sandwich closed down and was taken over by new management. It’s now called The Snug.  To make matters worse the iconic twin towers that were used as a back drop in The Crews and feature in the poster have been rumoured that they are due for demolition. So far most of the other companies remain open.

Look out for writer Kolin Ferguson in the background of the pub scene in Ramsays, he’s sitting with two elderly men having a pint.

The bus scene was shot on the hoof as well. Our only cost being the price of a all day ticket for each person on the bus. We had no extras so had to make the bus look occupied by having myself, First Assistant Director Kyrie Barker and Sound recordist Ryan Lindsay sit in for the shot.

Episode Four: The Prodigal Son

There is a sequence that involves an airport shot. Our plan for this was to go along and grab two shots of the airport to establish we were in an airport and then shoot the rest of the scene at an NCP Car park. However, after we managed to grab our first shot of the day we were pulled over by the police. Various members of our crew were background checked as well as Mischa who was in from Holland. However thankfully we were all cleared and told we had to have permission to film in future. Onward we went with our guerilla film-making day and picked up the shot we wanted to get at an airport at an NCP Carp park, ahem still without permission.

The opening scene of this episode was a tribute to the Goodfellas shot. When we first went into he location to scout it I thought that it would be a great opportunity to introduce Mick Turner’s main haunt plus play tribute to the film that help start the ball rolling on Sandwich. And look out for a cameo by myself in this scene.  I’m carrying a packet of water bottles as Stevie Turner and John Drummond disappear through the back of the pub.

Episode Five: Just Another Day In Paradise

The opening sequence was all achieved with visual effects. Most of the scene was shot on a night shoot in June and then various pickups were filmed five or six months later to add to the tension of the scene and film some more background plates. Brendan Breslin who plays Scooby was composited into all of the shots. There is one shot where you see Scooby climb the railing, but this was done over a part of the ground that was not over the River Clyde.

The night before we filmed the beating up of the Dutchmen scene the crew sat around watching the Billy Batts battering scene from Goodfellas for inspiration. We were hoping we could achieve something similar. It was a very quick fight scene that was filmed in little over an hour.

Episode Six: preview clip

This short clip comes from the final episode of The Crews season one, which will be published online on Monday 12 December.

Episode Six: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

There is a featured use of a Globe Gas Van in the episode. Globe Gas is the name of the company that is owned by a good friend of actor Scott Kyle. The owner kindly loaned us the use of the van for the shoot as a means of sponsorship.

The spray paint used on Tommy Granger’s car was in fact Hairspray so it did not have to be re-sprayed.  Saying that you can still see the effects of the paint on the car so please bear in mind if any future film students wish to do something like this there may be some residual effects.

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Related links

‘I wanted a complex story with an ensemble cast’: Colin Ross Smith on The Crews