TIMELINE: ABERDEENSHIRE’S FILM STORY
2000-2015: Twice as many screen projects are produced in Aberdeenshire as were made here in the entire 20th century.
2015: The much-anticipated release of Twentieth Century Fox’s sci-fi-influenced Frankenstein, starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland), which was filmed at Dunnottar and in Glen Callater.
— Paul McGuigan (@paul_mcguigan) March 17, 2014
2014: Thriller Pressure, shot in Aberdeen and Stonehaven and starring Danny Huston (son of legendary Hollywood director John Huston), takes on the perils of deep-sea diving. A new adaptation of Sunset Song starring Peterhead-born Peter Mullan (Trainspotting) and Agyness Deyn (Clash of the Titans) is filmed at nine different Aberdeenshire locations.
2013: BAFTA-winning dramatic feature For Those in Peril explores life and death in a present-day Northeast fishing community.
2012: 3-D animated versions of Dunnottar and Braemar appear in Disney-Pixar’s royal smash Brave, while the skies over Aberdeenshire’s Mar Lodge estate witness the (literally) high adventure of Bane’s escape in The Dark Knight Rises.
2011: Feature documentary You’ve Been Trumped, about the standoff between an American billionaire developer and an ordinary Buchan farmer, becomes a cult hit around the world.
2010: The mighty Cairngorms once again become the backdrop to high adventure in a distant era – this time, the Roman Empire of 117 A.D. – in Centurion starring Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class; 12 Years a Slave) and Dominic West (The Hour; The Wire).
2008: The ‘Man Fights Bear’ John West Salmon advert, filmed at Invercauld in 2000, is voted ‘Funniest Commercial of All Time’.
2006: Castle Fraser and Cluny Castle are major locations for The Queen starring Helen Mirren.
2005: Pennan is voted ‘Best Film Location in the UK’, despite no feature films other than Local Hero having been made there up to that time.
2000s: Digital filming technology allows production costs to drop once again, and Aberdeenshire shares fully in the resultant crop of reality-TV shows and innovative independent features. Four different programmes about ghosts and haunting are taped at Fyvie Castle alone. Food is another major theme.
1997: Aberdeenshire’s Invercauld estate portrays 19th-century Balmoral in ITV biopic Victoria and Albert.
1994-95: Roughnecks, a popular BBC drama series about offshore oil personnel starring James Cosmo (Trainspotting and A Game of Thrones), is filmed and set in Aberdeen, Dyce and Stonehaven as well as on an actual North Sea drilling platform, the Dan Countess.
1992: Fraserburgh and Macduff portray their 1950s selves in romantic drama Salt on Our Skin starring Vincent d’Onofrio and Greta Scacchi.
1990: Franco Zeffirelli’s action-film-influenced Hamlet features Dunnottar and Muchalls, doubling as 16th-century Denmark.
1987: Buckie plays itself in TV comedy classic Tutti Frutti starring Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson.
1984: Beloved children’s adventure Box of Delights is shot in Banchory and Lumphanan, doubling for southwestern England and the Welsh borders.
1983: Oscar-winning producer David Puttnam (Chariots of Fire) teams up with an as-yet-obscure Scottish filmmaker named Bill Forsyth to make Local Hero in Pennan, Banff and Boyndlie. A masterpiece of tone, the heartwarming comedy grosses $1.3 million more than its modest budget in the first three months of U.S. release alone.
1981: In Quest for Fire, co-written by Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) and starring Ron Perlman (Hellboy), French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud uses the Cairngorms to double as the Europe and Africa of 80,000 BC.
1977: Ridley Scott’s visually lavish first feature – The Duellists starring Harvey Keitel – includes a long sequence shot in the eastern Cairngorms, doubling for Russia during Napoleon’s invasion of 1812.
1971: Camera and sound technology have evolved to a point that outdoor production is again within the grasp of filmmakers on moderate budgets. Leading the charge is Moira Armstrong, whose telefilm version of Sunset Song is BBC Scotland’s first drama in colour and the first to feature a nude scene.
1963: Local literary master John R. Allan scripts Beyond the Grampians, a celebratory yet realistic documentary portrait of the Northeast region, this time in colour.
1940s: The documentary movement continues, with John Eldridge’s North East Corner (1944), focusing on life in Peterhead, and the unintentionally funny but sociologically invaluable Scottish Universities (1948), among others.
1938: Legendary British documentary producer John Grierson sends director Mary Field to Aberdeenshire to film They Made the Land, inaugurating a quarter century of vibrant theatrical documentary making in the area.
1938: American studio RKO sends a crew to Balmoral to capture scenes for Queen of Destiny, their lavish Technicolor biopic of Queen Victoria starring Dame Anna Neagle.
1932: Auchterless-born Lewis Grassic Gibbon, soon to die at the tragically young age of 33, publishes Sunset Song, classic novel of pre-WWI Northeast folkways.
1922: The first screen adaptation of Dracula, F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, cuts out the Stoker estate and is ordered destroyed by the courts; only one print survives. More than 100 other adaptations of the novel have followed.
1908: First movie adaptation of Treasure Island, which has since spawned 29 film adaptations, 9 television series and miniseries, and 2 videogames (among more than 100 probable/ unacknowledged screen versions).
1899: Charles Urban produces a series of documentary shorts on Upper Deeside, featuring the royals, Highland Dancers, and military scenes.
1897: Publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was inspired by New Slains Castle, Ecclescraig Castle and the Buchan coast, and written in a hotel in Cruden Bay.
1896: William Walker, 38, who moved to Aberdeen from Glasgow as a child, buys the city’s first motion-picture camera from John Wrench & Sons, immediately becoming the Northeast’s first newsreel producer.
1896: William Downey Jr. makes a motion picture of Queen Victoria and other European royals at Balmoral, the first film known to have been shot in Aberdeenshire.
1881: Robert Louis Stevenson writes Treasure Island, one of the most-adapted works of the next century, at 6 Glenshee Road, Braemar. Most of the characters including Long John Silver are based on local people.
Late 1890s: Walker regularly exhibits his work (now including local advertising) in a saloon in Union Street, and later in more than a dozen command performances to the royal family at Balmoral.