Outlaw King: 'We could only have dreamt about the film's success'

Director David Mackenzie on the set of Outlaw King, which was released a year ago today. PIC: Netflix/David Eustace.
Director David Mackenzie on the set of Outlaw King, which was released a year ago today. PIC: Netflix/David Eustace.
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The director of Robert the Bruce biopic Outlaw King has spoken of the 'great responsibility' he felt making a film about the Scottish national hero with the company behind the production saying it could only have 'dreamt' about the film's success.

Director David Mackenzie has spoken on the first anniversary on the release of the film which charts Bruce's rise to power, his struggle to gather support following his coronation in 1306 and the Scots defeat of the English at Loudoun Hill the following year.

Robert the Bruce played by Chris Pine in Outlaw King, which was shot entirely on set in Scotland according to the borders of 1320. PIC: Netflix.

Robert the Bruce played by Chris Pine in Outlaw King, which was shot entirely on set in Scotland according to the borders of 1320. PIC: Netflix.

The film has been credited with drawing more visitors to the historic sites used as locations in the film, which was shot entirely in Scotland, according to the Borders of 1320.

READ MORE: A historian's view on what Outlaw King gets wrong

Mr Mackenzie, who grew up in north Perthshire, said: "It was a great responsibility to try and tell the story of one the great heroes of Scotland, if not the great Scottish national hero and to do him justice and to make a film with integrity.

"That was at the forefront of everything we were doing while still trying to make a film that an audience can relate to, engage with an enjoy the spectacle, the romance and all of those epic film qualities."

The film climaxes with the Scots victory over the English at the Battle of Loudoun Hill in 1307. PIC: Netflix/David Eustace.

The film climaxes with the Scots victory over the English at the Battle of Loudoun Hill in 1307. PIC: Netflix/David Eustace.

Locations in the film include Craigmillar Castle, Blackness Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Glen Coe, the University of Glasgow and the Isle of Skye.

READ MORE: Outlaw King: Secrets of the film shoot revealed

Mr Mackenzie said he felt as if he had been scouting for locations for "the past 35 years" of his life.

He said he returned to his former childhood home around the A9 at Dalwhinnie to shoot some of the scenes and recalled how he would ask his mum to drop him off in the area so he could spend the next two or three days walking home.

The film was released globally on streaming platform Netflix to 130 million subscribers in more than 190 countries on Friday, 9 November last year.

Since then, Historic Environment Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland, which own historical properties that appear in Outlaw King or have links to Robert the Bruce, say the film has been a factor in a rise in visitor numbers over the past 12 months.

VisitScotland has since produced a guide to highlight 20 locations used in the film and 24 sites linked to Robert the Bruce across the country.

The tourism body said it had been viewed 45,000 times since the film’s release, with the majority of users from Germany (40%), followed by France (31%), the UK (14%) and the USA (9%).

The three most popular destinations are Loch Lomond, which which depicts the Battle of Methven in the film, Dunstaffnage Castle, which was besieged and captured by Robert the Bruce in 1309 and Claigan Coral Beach on the Isle of Skye, which portrays Islay in the film

Mr Mackenzie added: “It was really important to us to use as many sites as possible that Robert himself had a connection with.

"Treading in these hallowed places and feeling that your feet are on the same ground that these guys were on 700 years ago is a really resonant thing; for me, as a director; for the actors to get into their part; and for everyone on the film set.”

A statement from Sigma Films, which was founded by Mr Mackenzie and Outlaw King producer Gillian Berry, said it could "only have dreamt" of the success of Outlaw King..

It said: "The response to Outlaw King both in Scotland and internationally has been fantastic and having literally millions of people across the globe watch a film about this Scottish legend is something we could only have dreamt of.

"We had been pushing for many years to bring Outlaw King home to Scotland and being able to shoot a film of this scale in its entirety in our home country was a reward in itself."

"Being out in the elements for weeks-on-end in remote locations whilst filming was not the easiest of tasks but the morale of the cast and crew really helped, not to mention the amazing locations we were fortunate enough to have access to.

"Scotland is such a cinematic place and being able to capture that for a worldwide audience made the 4am starts a bit more palatable. "

The company said there were lots of 'positive changes' happening in the Scottish film industry at the moment to encourage more projects like Outlaw King to film in Scotland.

It added: "We are working closely with our fellow independent Scottish producers, alongside Screen Scotland, to see that there is a healthy industry here for all kinds of projects in the future. We are based in Glasgow and will continue to produce exciting and challenging films in Scotland for years to come. "