Stewart Svaasand

One Last Chance

Interviewed by Jamie Russell

“We got quite competitive about curling, actually ”

Despite his Scandinavian name, Stewart Svaasand was born and bred in Scotland. After a brief career as a fitter in the oil industry, he turned to filmmaking and, with the backing of Dougray Scott, got his first film off the ground. One Last Chance is a black comedy about a group of Highland lads who discover a nugget of gold.

The film was originally called The Bum's Rush. Why was it changed?

It's one of those sayings that everyone's heard of, but not everyone knows exactly what it means. "To get the bum's rush" means to get a hard time about something, a raw deal. I thought it was a good title, to be honest. But it attracted a good deal of controversy mainly because people weren't sure what it meant. Is this a film about a bunch of tramps? One of the big issues was how we were going to translate "The Bum's Rush" into foreign languages!

What was it like shooting in the Highlands?

We were shooting in Tomintoul near Elgin. The hotels normally shut down for Christmas, so we took over the whole place. They must have thought, "My God, the circus has come to town!" It's bizarre, for such a small place it's got two quite big, Victorian hotels. But there were only two bars, so if you wanted to do a pub crawl it didn't take you long. The locals really enjoyed it, though, and we used a lot of them as extras.

It's one of the few movies ever to use curling as a plot device...

We got quite competitive about curling, actually. Kevin McKidd and Jimmy Chisholm and me became particularly competitive. They won't admit it, but they were taking it seriously! Man, it's such a difficult sport. I mean, total respect to these guys who play it. It's so tough. You turn up and watch these people who are getting on in years throwing these stones and sliding up and down the ice gracefully and wonder how hard can it be. But graceful we were not. It was hard to film the curling scenes too. We did one tracking shot across the ice. We put the director of photography on a rubber mat and just pulled him along.

What's your next project going to be?

It's another black comedy, bigger and more colourful than One Last Chance. I'm just into telling good stories, that's what I'm all about. It's called Curious Moments and it's set in Scotland again. I love filming in Scotland, there's so many hidden gems up there and such a wealth of talent. It's a brilliant landscape, and I don't just mean the countryside but the cities as well. There are so many places I'd love to film in Scotland that have just never been seen in the cinema.