Under the Skin producer Jim Wilson on secret filming in Glasgow
'We thought people would recognise it was Scarlett Johansson in a van in Scotland, but nobody did'
‘One of [director Jonathan Glazer’s] dreams was to have Scarlett [Johansson] carry out the action of the film spontaneously and improvising, and you couldn’t do that with a camera visibly attached to the vehicle.
So, the task was to create a way to film scenes in a vehicle, driving around, so that there are no cameras visible anywhere on the van, so that potentially she could pull up and persuade a bloke to get in the van.
We needed multiple small cameras to cover every angle (in the end we had eight), that needed to be small enough to be concealed in the van so as not to draw attention to themselves, that were also good enough to shoot a cinematic film on.
One day we did just have Scarlett driving around improvising, talking to people in the street. And in fact one man actually got into the van, he didn’t know he was being filmed, and that’s the first main scene in the film – her first interaction with a human being was an electrician from Govan!
An Assistant Director had to jump out and go on the chase for anyone we’d spoken to and explain they’d been filmed. One guy we had been driving with for about 20 minutes, and he wanted to be dropped off somewhere, and the AD jumped out after him and he ran off because he thought he was being chased! When we got hold of him and explained what was going on, he couldn’t believe it.
We thought people would recognise that it was Scarlett Johansson, a super-famous movie star, in a van in Scotland, but nobody did!’
Under the Skin is on limited release from Fri 14 Mar, and will screen at GFT, Glasgow on Sun 2 Mar as part of the Glasgow Film Festival.