It’s 1am on a Tuesday night and I’m only just getting into bed. My back is aching and my hair as bushy as can be. I’ve spent 13 hours on the Outlander set stuffed into a corset that allowed no extra room for another portion of the delicious cheesecake served at lunchtime. No complaints there. It was definitely worth it!
Working as an extra for the best part of two years has given me insight into film and TV in Scotland that I never expected to experience when I moved here from Canada. I get to live and breathe the history of this fascinating country, and work with locals to create a compelling drama watched by millions.
Last night’s Outlander shoot was a period scene, so I was looking forward to trying on the beautiful gowns worn in the 1700s (beautiful, but quite painfully tight around the waist). The studio set was fabulous and everybody worked around the clock to make it look as credible as can be. The gowns and costumes were fabulous. Nothing was left to chance. Every detail counted.
More than anything though, I was excited to take part in the phenomenon that is Outlander.
My Outlander Experience on the TV shows’ set:
Although you can’t visit the studios, you can work on set! Working as an extra (aka background artist) is not the glamourous life most people think it is, but you’ll always have an interesting day where you’ll meet great people. You’re being paid to eat great food, meet new people and experience something different every single day!
After a breakfast provided upon arrival, the organised mess starts. Women get their hair put in curlers, the men have wigs fitted, and then everyone heads to costume. The whole ordeal takes a while, for women especially perhaps, who need assistance in putting on: tights, underskirts, doughnut, skirt, corset, bodice and lace (you get a good idea how long if must have taken to get dressed in the morning in the 1700s!).
When they’re ready for the extras, we’re sent to the set where they will place each extra at a specific place. They give you direct instructions on where you have to walk to or who to talk to in mimed dialogues. It can be awkward, as you might have to mime clapping, dancing without music or laughing without uttering a sound.
Apart from the discomfort only corsets can provide, you’ll probably spend a fun day chatting away with people from all over Scotland, as well as the actors and film crew.
Taking photographs of the set and cast is prohibited and sanctions can be severe, but you can ask a member of staff if you can take a photo of yourself in costume.
And the best part of being an extra? You get a glimpse of what’s coming next season on Outlander!
Join a tour to live the Outlander experience
If you’re visiting or living in Scotland, you might want to enjoy an Outlander tour.
From Linlithgow Palace to Falkland and Aviemore, you’ll be transported to sights that have been featured in the show, all the while learning about Outlander from a fascinating guide and seeing Scotland’s breathtaking scenery. Rabbies offer a fun one tour from Edinburgh to key locations, or a four day trip that takes you right up into the Highlands to truly experience Outlander first-hand.
If you feel slightly more adventurous and want to do your own self-drive tour:
The real story behind Outlander
While Outlander mostly stuck to the historical facts, it’s always interesting to know what the real story is. The Jacobite rebellion is a bloody but inspiring story for Scots and foreigners alike. The movie Braveheart has already proven that Scottish history is fascinating for all and full of hope.
The National Museum of Scotland holds a permanent exhibition on Scottish history, but if you want to know more about the Jacobites rebellions, you can visit the ‘Bonne Prince Charlie and the Jacobites’ exhibition being held in the same museum until the 12th of November.
Live Reenactments during the weekends!
For a fantastic night out, join the Museum Late: Jacobites on the 10th of November!
** Some of the Outlander cast will be present!!**
From the comfort of your home, here’s a succinct summary of the Jacobite rebellions and how they came about: https://britishheritage.com/jacobite-rebellion-1745/
Scotland’s culture is rich in a proud history. No wonder Scotland keeps fascinating and intriguing. Outlander and Braveheart have helped the world realise how inspiring Scotland and Scottish history really is.
If you’ve never had the chance to watch or read Outlander, you should definitely give it a try. You’ll most likely be hooked like the rest of us!
Written by Judith Bellemare, Venture English