Digest>Archives> April 2002

The Movies Come to Eshaness

By Sharma Krauskopf


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The filming crew arrives, six vehicle in all.

I would never have thought a big screen production would come to Eshaness and definitely not in the winter, but for one bleak and windy day in January, Eshaness Lighthouse was turned into “The End Of The World Inn” for the film, Devil’s Gate. Devil’s Gate is the story of a girl named Rachael who returns to her island (not called Shetland) home when Rafe, an old boyfriend, falsely informs her that her father, Jake, is dying. Arriving on the island she meets Matt who lends her a hand. The story is full of mystery, dark secrets, and shady characters. When Rachael needs a place to stay for a night she goes to The End Of The World Inn (Eshaness Lighthouse). The hotel has no room for her. In frustration she rushes to the cliff’s edge to be called back from destruction by Rafe.

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Eshaness Lighthouse becomes a hotel with the ...

The role of Eshaness in the film began when its director Stuart St. Paul, Art Director Sarah Beaman, and Location Manager/Unit Manager (Shetland) Leslie Lowes checked the area in December. After looking around and watching the Eshaness footage in Scottish Lighthouses, they determined Eshaness Lighthouse would do just fine. Sarah measured all the various parts of the building, which would need to be added to or changed to transform the lighthouse into an inn. The director determined he wanted dramatic surf along with a beautiful sunset, which, if the weather was right, we could supply. The scenes at Eshaness were only of the outside of the building with the inside of the inn being shot in another location.

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Filming on the edge of the sea cliffs.

With the art department crew arriving before eight o’clock, the actual day of shooting started early. The first task was to hang a large sign on the tower saying ‘Hotel’ along with dressing the windows with neon signs to make it look more like a bar/inn. The hanging of the sign was the most difficult as the wind was blowing hard that morning. The art crew with the help of the Eshaness caretaker, Tom Williamson, got it done so quickly they had time to come into the house for a cup of tea before the next group arrived.

The next crew to arrive were the stunt, costume, and makeup people. They would be staying in the house with the cast involved in the scene taking place at the lighthouse. The production team tries to keep the actors comfortable so they can concentrate on their parts. The costume and makeup personnel were never far from the actors.

Then we had to wait for the main contingent that was coming by convoy, as they were filming as they came to Eshaness. Surprisingly they arrived pretty much on time. It was after the whole crew arrived that I became convinced that movie making was organized chaos. From a spectator’s point of view it seemed everyone was running around without any order to his or her madness but it soon became evident there was a definite system in place.

The two stars involved in the Eshaness scenes, Laura Fraser and Callum Blue, soon appeared in the house for a hot drink as it was getting colder and nastier outside as the day progressed. I found them friendly and really enjoyed our conversations as they waited for their scenes to be set up.

The other thing that struck me about the making of a film was the amount of waiting as various departments got everything prepared for the next step in the process. This probably affected the actors more than anyone else, as they did not get involved until everything was completely set. It did give me a lot of time to talk to the people in the house. Most of our conversation centered on movies and lighthouses. They educated me about movies and I taught them about lighthouses. Everyone without exception was fascinated with being inside a lighthouse accommodation and many wanted to go up in the tower but few made it because of the busy schedule. Many of the crew have returned to Eshaness to have another look.

It was a fascinating experience for me as I love big screen films and plan to write a script for one in the near future. Since then I have seen the rushes of the footage shot at Eshaness and it is beautiful even if the lighthouse does look a little strange as an inn. The one thing they captured is the remote grandeur and beauty of a lighthouse sitting on the edge of the sea.

Whether Devil’s Gate is a success at the box office is yet to be seen. But, if you are a lighthouse lover you should go see the film since it dramatically portrays what is so beautiful about these magnificent buildings we all like so much.

Anyone interested in more information about the film can find it at http://www.devilsgate.shetland.co.uk.

This story appeared in the April 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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