Highlands & Islands

Setting up King Arthur's Scottish stunt work

Devil's Pulpit Image copyright Warner Bros Entertainment Inc
Image caption The film's leading man Charlie Hunnam at Devil's Pulpit

A Scottish climber has given insights into the work involved in setting up physical stunts in the new movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Kirk Watson, of Aviemore, was part of a small team working with Cairngorms-based firm Mountain and Water Safety Specialists on the fantasy adventure.

Mr Watson said the team and cast made long treks to locations in Scotland for stunts, including one on a cliff edge.

Members of the same team also worked on the films Prometheus and 47 Ronin.

These films - the first directed by Ridley Scott and part of the Alien movie franchise, and the second starring Keanu Reeves - involved scenes on Skye.

The safety specialists, led by Liam Irving and Graeme Douglas, also worked on Gerard Butler's new film The Keepers, which was made in south west Scotland.

Stunts performed in Scotland for the Guy Ritchie-directed King Arthur involved its lead, Charlie Hunnam.

Image copyright Kirk Watson
Image caption Hunnam, in his Arthur atttire, with safety team and production crew members at The Quiraing on Skye

Mr Watson, who is originally from Torphins in Aberdeenshire, said: "On King Arthur we started filming at The Devil's Pulpit near Glasgow.

"This involved a huge amount of rigging and rope work.

"We arrived before the crew to make the gorge safe first then the crew arrived and we rigged massive lights near the edges, set up Tyroleans (a rope system for crossing a space) to get equipment across the gorge and winch systems down into the gorge to get camera equipment and other kit down there.

"Lots of rope systems were set up round the edge of the gorge to keep grips tied on in case they slipped while concentrating on the camera cranes."

'Cliff top rolls'

He added: "Down in the gorge those of us with experience of working in the sea and white water rapids put on dry suits to work with the stunt team and crew in the water."

Mr Watson said the filming done in the water was for scenes involving a plunge down a waterfall and a fight between Hunnam and giant beasts.

Image copyright Warner Bros Entertainment Inc
Image caption Hunnam as Arthur in a scene shot in the Scottish Highlands

"Next to Torridon," said the climber and drone pilot, who five years ago was involved in making the first fictional feature film to be shot in Antarctica, a horror flick called South of Sanity.

"In Torridon, we had winch systems set up through very steep rocky ground to get kit up to the cave."

Mr Watson added: "The stunt team were doing some full-on rolls on a cliff top so we rigged systems to safeguard them and the small camera team on the cliff edge. They swapped in and out with Charlie.

"We also did some scenes on Beinn Bhan with Charlie hanging out right on the edge of the cliff.

"There was lots of humphing heavy kit up here to set up a big crane."

'Down to earth'

The safety team's last location was that poster isle of the film industry - Skye.

The Misty Isle has been appeared in a swathe of recent movies, including the upcoming Transformers: The Last Knight.

Image copyright Kirk Watson
Image caption Hunnam, wielding King Arthur's legendary sword Excalibur, and Kirk Watson

Mr Watson said: "We filmed on The Quiraing, one of the best-known features of the landscape of Skye.

"We had some extra Skye locals here as there was a fair distance to carry all the kit.

"We shot a bunch of scenes and our job was mainly looking after folk on the steeper ground and carrying kit up the bits that most folk needed hands to get up."

Looking back over the experience on the King Arthur movie, Mr Watson said: "The crew were a great bunch of folk.

"Guy Ritchie was on the shoot each day and Charlie was our only actor for the Scottish bit. He's a very sound and down to earth guy.

"The director of photography, John Mathieson, I have worked on a few jobs with and been on hikes in Scotland with. He is a good crack.

"John, who filmed Gladiator and Hugh Jackman's recent Wolverine film Logan, always seems keen to film in Scotland."

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