Glaswegian writer claims Golden Globes glory for First World war epic filmed in the city

Glasgow-born screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns co-wrote 1917 with Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.
Glasgow-born screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns co-wrote 1917 with Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.
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A Scottish screenwriter is basking in Golden Globes glory with her first ever film feature after the First World War epic 1917, which was partly shot in her native Glasgow, was named best film.



Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who got her first break in the industry after talking her way onto the set of Taggart, joined forces with Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes to write 1917.

Charting the story of two young British soldiers tasked with crossing into enemy territory to deliver a message that could save the lives of 1,600 of their comrades, it also won the best director honour for Mendes at the ceremony in Los Angeles.

A huge set was built at a dockyard in the Govan area of Glasgow – where Wilson-Cairns’ grandfather had previously worked – for extensive location filming on 1917, which featured Sunshine on Leith star George MacKay in one of the lead roles, starring alongside Dean-Charles Chapman.

Mendes, whose previous films include American Beauty, Road to Perdition and James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, assembly a star-studded cast for the war movie, which will be released in the UK on Friday, including Scots star Richard Madden, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott and Mark Strong.

Wilson-Cairns, who was brought up in the Shawlands area of Glasgow, studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and spent the year after working in the BBC Comedy Unit before moving to London to take up a place at the National Film and Television School.

Krysty Wilson-Cairns (second from right) on the red carpet at the Golden Globes ceremony in Hollywood.

Krysty Wilson-Cairns (second from right) on the red carpet at the Golden Globes ceremony in Hollywood.

Read more: Glasgow’s Krysty Wilson-Cairns on co-writing Golden Globe winner 1917: “I’ve been writing for five years and this is my first movie that has been made”

A script for a science fiction thriller, Aether, brought her to the attention of the film industry and led to her working on the Sky Atlantic series Penny Dreadful.

Posting on social media after the ceremony, she said: “So many incredible men and women worked on this film. I’m lucky and immensely proud to have been one of them.”

Speaking after the film’s world premiere in London last month, which was attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Wilson-Cairns told The Scotsman: “I’ve been writing for five years and this is my first movie that has been made. You sort of dream about what it’ll be like, but the reality was better.

Sunshine on Leith star George Mackay is one of the stars of Second World War thriller 1917.

Sunshine on Leith star George Mackay is one of the stars of Second World War thriller 1917.

“First of all, people are liking the film, which is really rewarding. I also spent the last year and a half with Sam Mendes and the boys, so it was like a little reunion. And then you get to meet Prince Charles.”

Read more: 1917 filming locations: the Scottish docks where Golden Globe-winning war epic was filmed

Describing the location filming in Glasgow, she added: “Believe it or not, my grandfather used to run haulage out of there. It was so weird because I’d spent a year writing this and the production looked all over the UK for a place that would look industrial enough and French enough and they found it in my back garden. It was nuts.”

Mendes, whose film was inspired by stories he was told by his grandfather, co-write the script for 1917 with Wilson-Cairns.

Speaking before the ceremony, he said: “I thought it would be easier if I just sat down and did the work myself for a change, rather than make it the problem of a screenwriter.

“So I did a lot of work and got a story structure, but then I sort of stalled and it was Krysty who put it into screenplay form.”

Dundee-born actor Brian Cox, meanwhile, won his first Golden Globe for his starring role as media mogul Logan Roy in the hit series Succession, which was also named best drama. HBO, the makers of the show, filmed two episodes in Scotland last year, including key scenes at the new V&A museum in Dundee.

In his acceptance speech, Cox said: “Next year I will have been in this business for 60 years. I just never thought this would happen to me, so I’m a wee bit shocked.

“And it would never have happened if I hadn’t worked with the most extraordinary bunch of people ever, the cast and the crew of Succession.”

Speaking backstage, he added: “I thought my sell-by date had come quite some time ago. I’ve been doing reasonably well, I can’t complain, but then a role like Logan Roy just comes along once-in-a-generation, once-in-a-lifetime, and when you are given a gift like that you go ‘wow’.”

When asked if he is playing a version of Rupert Murdoch in Succession, he answered: “No - I’m playing Logan Roy. Logan Roy is totally our creation. Rupert Murdoch has f*** all to do with it.”

Fleabag, the comedy-drama created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, won her the best comedy actress award and was also named best comedy – six years after she won a Scotsman Fringe First Award with the stage show based on her character.

Fleabag star Olivia Colman was named best actress in a TV series for her depiction of the Queen in The Crown.

The winners for 1917 and Succession have provided an early 2020 boost for Scotland's film and television sectors.

Isabel Davis, executive director at the Screen Scotland agency said: “Scottish talent and locations were on stellar form at the Golden Globes, with Brian Cox taking the Best Actor Drama TV Series award for Succession and Krysty Wilson-Cairns having co-written 1917, with both productions shooting on location in Scotland last year.

"Succession was supported by Screen Scotland to provide vital opportunities for up and coming craft and technical crew from Scotland to work alongside the show’s highly experienced creative team. This is a great start to the awards season for Scotland.”

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken: “The success of both 1917 and Succession at the Golden Globes underlines the type and scale of the film and broadcast productions that Glasgow now regularly hosts.

"The council’s Glasgow Film Office plays a key role in attracting such productions to the city, showcasing unique locations such as the Govan Graving Docks, where 1917 was based for around two months last year.

"The economic impact of these productions – well over £300 million over the past 20 years – is key to sustaining the sector in Glasgow, with benefits also felt in the city’s catering, hotel, hospitality, transport and logistical fields.”