Diana Gabaldon Wrapped Up Her ‘Outlander’ Set Visit

Diana Gabaldon wrapped up her Outlander set visit before Thanksgiving.  Here are the rest of her tweets and Facebook posts including photos from the rest of trip to Scotland.  Thank you, Diana for sharing so much with fans while you were on set!

November 12:

We began filming the new block of the Outlander TV show today! Pickup well before dawn, and filming in an outdoor location featuring freezing mud, high winds and–after dark–torrential downpour in the woods. Luckily, I’d brought clothes suitable to the weather; at the end of it, I was wearing my sturdy waterproof boots, alpaca socks (the gift of a kind fan–thank you Jayme!) fleece leggings, jeans, waterproof trousers, a thermal undershirt, a wool ski sweater, a waterproof ski jacket, a lovely cowl knitted for me by another fan (whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten, but the cowl is _great_; I wear it with one end pulled up over my head), and wool-lined rough-suede gloves covered by mitts knitted for me by my good friend, Elva Stoelers. It was _still_ bloody cold, but at least I stayed dry, except for my fingers–the gloves soaked through pretty fast.

Had a _great_ time! Got home fourteen hours after I got up, and lay down directly after peeling my clothes off. Luckily had set the alarm, so woke up two hours later in time to eat dinner before going back to bed…. (pickup at 6:35 AM tomorrow–a whole hour later than today!)

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November 14:

First day of actual filming (what they call “principal photography”) was Thursday–an outside location, and a loooong, cold, rainy, windy day it was, too. Great fun. <g> As Sam Heughan described it in a tweet:

We were all upstaged by a donkey named Archie.


Sleepy peed on me.

(Sleepy (the horse) didn’t actually pee _on_ him; he was just sort of in the splash-zone, as it were…)

It was a combination day and night shoot–“night” starts officially at 3:30 PM, for photography purposes–and cyclone Abigail came over Scotland while we were doing it. We were standing in a wood, watching a firelit scene across a creek, with sheets of water coming down through the trees–amazingly beautiful. (All fires are portable gas fires, so that the height of the flames can be controlled–in case you’re wondering why the rain didn’t put the flames out.)

Luckily yesterday (Friday) was in the studio, because Abigail was still storming along, dropping rain and hail along the way. It hasn’t rained today….yet.

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November 17:

It was a long, cold day on an outdoor location today–left the house at 6:45 AM and got home at 8 PM, having spent the entire day standing/walking in the cold (and rain, which started up around noon). Several people during the day noted that you can’t really see rain in photography, particularly on film; the only way you know it’s raining is that the actors’ hair goes flat and drips. This will indicate just how hard it _was_ raining, in that you can actually see it in that third photo, there…

As the truck door suggests, there were stunts done today–really impressive, and accompanied by universal cries of “Watch your head!” (which had to do with the wire-rig camera photographing the sequence, which went whizzing through the trees at head-height, rather than with the stunt sequence itself).

This being a film-set, despite being completely out of doors, it got “dressed.” I.e., the crew added small cosmetic alterations to the forest (with the permission of the forest’s proprietors) here and there, moving brush and leaves.

Kudos to the craft services people–these being the delightful people who provide toasties (that’s something like a panini–a toasted sandwich filled with anything from ham and cheese to Coronation Chicken) and hot drinks to the cast and crew all day. I had five cups of hot chocolate, to which I attribute my survival…

And I did in fact write a bit of BookNine while recuperating in our trailer after Late Lunch (Official Late Lunch means that we break when the light goes–at 3:30 PM–rather than at mid-day (hence the need for intermittent toasties)–not an official ‪#‎DailyLine‬, but a snip of what I started:

“Rachel woke suddenly, completely alert but with no idea what had wakened her. She moved, turning her head to see if Ian was awake. He was; his hand clamped across her mouth and she froze. It was dark in the cabin, but there was light enough from the banked fire for her to see his face, eyes dark with warning. ”

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November 18:

Looooong day on set, but luckily indoors. Got to sit down, wasn’t wet, and managed to write 1000 words (my usual daily work quota for this stage of a book) of BookNine. It was not a photogenic day, so here’s one of me with Anne Kenney from yesterday–plus a ‪#‎DailyLine‬ from today.

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November 20:

Stupid Apple refused to access my email until I capitulated and updated their bloody OS–again! (Really dislike Mac, but it’s a lot lighter and more transportable than my beloved 17″ Alienware PC, so it’s what I have right now.) ANYway, finally got at my photos from yesterday. This was an indoor location, thank goodness–and two days at the same place, which was a luxury, as we’d all learned where the toilets were by the second day.

That first photo is a “Where am I?” shot–the answer being that I’m sitting in what’s called “Video Village”–this being the cluster of monitors that the Director of Photography and his minions use through filming. It also has chairs for the writers (and when outdoors, is located in its own little tent; nice to have at least minimal shelter now and then).

What I’m holding on my lap are my “cans”–the headphones and battery pack that allow me to hear the directions and dialogue from the set. (Sometimes the set is large enough and accessible enough that we’re actually inside it with the actors, director, ADR (Assistant Director; this is the person who shouts “Action!”), and crew. If it’s a sound-stage, we’re not in it, but watching on monitors outside.

Even when we can get inside, though, sometimes we’ll watch on the monitors in order to sit down for awhile. (And I work on Book Nine in the intervals while cameras are resetting or turning around–“turning around” is literal; it means the cameras are moving to the other side of the set.)

The next photo is a camera-crew person’s kit; the colorful tapes are used for “marks”–lines and T-shapes put on the floor to tell the actors where to stand or stop moving in each scene (or partial scene). And the next is what this set looked like if you looked up; the lighting is a hugely complex issue, and takes a LOT of people to set up and manage. (The roundish orbs are called Chinese lanterns–because that’s what they essentially are.) And the final photo is one of the period props from this set–a sugar cone, with sugar-nippers and tongs.

(Today was outside again–I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.)

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November 21:

Friday we filmed at an outdoor location–both day and night. Long day, and a cold one–but it didn’t rain! (Makes a big difference; being cold is OK; being cold and sodden is _really_ miserable.) The filming involved a lot of horses and was a lot of fun to watch; both horses and riders (a lot of professional stunt riders, and a number of slightly less-skilled but brave actors–as one male actor (who shall be nameless) said to me and Anne, “I’ve just had a conversation with my balls. They both said, “We’d really rather you didn’t do _that_ again.”) were great, the various stunts went off well, and the director and DOP (Director of Photography) got all the footage they wanted.

You’ll see the crane truck with camera chasing the horses, in the third photo. In some sequences, that truck was leading the horses, in others, following. We’d filmed at this location earlier in the week, and before coming back, the director told us that he was having to have the road scraped, because the mud was so deep that the truck’s brakes couldn’t stop it from sliding, and they were worried that if anyone fell off, they might be run over.

I’m constantly amazed at the lengths production goes to, both to insure everybody’s safety and to achieve the effects they want. I saw four guys working for the greens crew (the people who handle the vegetation on a set) shovel dead leaves out of a giant van into huge plastic carriers, lug them up a steep hill and shovel them out onto the road–then rake them all off again, then rescatter them in a different place, rake them all off again, etc., etc., all day long. To say nothing of constantly shoveling dirt into puddles, removing greenery from one spot and putting it somewhere else, and so on. (Someone who saw the photo of me in my ultra-warm coat (bought some years ago in Canada, where they understand cold weather) mentioned that everybody else visible seemed to be wearing windbreakers and jeans. I noted that _they_ were racing around like maniacs doing heavy manual labor, while I was standing still and thinking. You don’t generate much body heat doing that…)

Speaking of effects, that last shot is of the night-time half of the day’s filming, which took place by moonlight (both real and manufactured for the occasion).

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November 25:

Home! Phew… Spent the morning on set yesterday, then zipped back to my flat to change clothes, and went down to do an event for Scottish Book Week (‪#‎scottishbookweek‬) at Stirling Castle with Neil Oliver (we were interviewed by the brilliant Clare English). Had a wonderful time–so nice to meet so many of you (Neil was Most Impressed…)!

Four hours sleep, then hasty packing, and a looong day of travel, but all went well, and made it home at last, in time for supper.

Hope you all are having a good time preparing for Thanksgiving–tomorrow…turkey shopping!

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