Not a brick in the wall


A recent request from George Barr of Greenroom Films in Edinburgh: “…we are shooting a commercial where we need a huge wall as a backdrop, a pavement and a 20ft silver birch tree, oh, and the wall is distressed – can you do it?”

Right, no problem. Lets see the visi. Saw the visi, sat down for a few seconds then thought, “lets get it done”. Off we trundled to get the materials – lots of wood, lots of plasterboard, lots of other stuff. Three of us set about building a 32ft wide by 16ft high stud wall, then plaster boarded it followed by a complete application of rough render with random holes for the exposed “brick areas”. Mounted the “broken” down-pipe and had a rest.

Scene painter extraordinaire, Sue Ross (07817 373 120) was then hauled in to paint the thing in distressed effect, exactly like the visual – brilliant!


The most difficult and time consuming part – apart from humping and laying 70 plus
paving slabs was sourcing a silver birch tree with the right proportions of leaf
and trunk girth – this was to be the main ‘ edit line’ in the sequence of shots to follow.

We trudged through half a dozen tree nurseries on a 50-mile trip with a tape measure
– these guys love trees, but even they think it’s strange when they show a tree and the person says, “ nope, the trunk isn’t thick enough – but the leaves are just right, what else have you got?” We snapped any likely contenders on the spot and sent piccies to the director.

With the birch search done, we de – leafed and pruned most of it at the studio then hoisted it into position on the set, placed the cast iron grate round the base, stood back and admired our handiwork. It looked like it had grown there!

The basic gist of the ad was about ICS learning courses that could change your career; the tree line in the set was edit point. As a person walked past the tree they would ‘change ‘ from one job type to their new, happier, better paid job type.

The whole shoot ran smoothly with several actors doing quick changes for their parts – the end result looked really good.

The deconstruction of the wall and set took another 2 days!