How I made it in Hollywood- Film blogger quit IT for the red carpet
May 26 2011 Samantha Booth
A film featuring Ewan McGregor, Kate Winslet and Clint Eastwood - not bad for a first-time director.
Movie blogger Douglas McFarlane got to uncover the secrets of the stars on the red carpets of the Oscars, Cannes and the Sundance Film Festival.
The resulting documentary, Making It In Hollywood, won him critical acclaim and a Golden Palm award - and now the DVD has gone on sale for the first time.
Douglas, originally from Clydebank, near Glasgow, said: "It was an incredible two years but I think my ultimate moment was coming face-to-face with Clint Eastwood. "I grew up going to see his films at the ABC minors in Clydebank every Saturday morning. He is a true statesman of Hollywood.
"Although standing in the same pub as Quentin Tarantino was also another amazing moment."
Douglas, 50, got to meet Eastwood at the 2007 Oscars, when he took his camera to see which celebs he could speak to.
He found out about an award ceremony for Ennio Morricone, the composer of the score of the 1966 western, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which starred Eastwood.
Douglas said: "It was a cocktail party-type scenario when there was a sudden huge surge of energy, there was a real buzz that was almost euphoric.
"The next thing I knew Clint had walked round the corner.
"It was incredible. I couldn't believe I was there filming this legend.
"When I did my piece to camera afterwards, you can see I am buzzing.
"And Clint and Ennio hadn't seen each other for 40-odd years, so I was desperate to catch that moment on film."
The next day, Douglas was on the red carpet at the Oscars - and ended up presenting live on US TV network ABC.
Douglas said: "One of the crew shouted "kiltcam" and suddenly I was live around the nation as well as doing a take for my own documentary.
"Americans love the Oscars being international, so I got a lot of attention, as you can imagine."
Douglas, 50, then decided to hit the red carpet at the Cannes Festival, where he captured stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio.
He said: "He was a good example of how strangely stars behave.
"On the red carpet with his entourage he was all smiles and waving but then just half an hour later on the way to the airport he was hiding under his jacket."
Douglas even got a chat with Jessica Simpson about what it is like dealing with stardom.
He said: "She talked about living her life in front of the press, invasion of privacy and how the publishers control what media they do.
"All the paparazzi were trying to get in on the act."
After Cannes, he went to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where he chatted with Ewan McGregor about making it big in Hollywood.
He said: "It was just another one of those chance moments.
"He was a really thoughtful guy and he gave me some really profound words on Hollywood."
Douglas also got Sharon Stone talking about her career at the same festival - and her regret at taking on some jobs.
He said: "She told me she didn't want to be doing any more Catwoman-type roles."
Douglas's story is all the more remarkable because 10 years ago, he was working in IT in Edinburgh.
He said: "I wanted to do something different, something which wasn't just hanging around pubs, so I came up with the idea of taking up singing.
"After about 18 months and a bit of performance coaching I went to a Les Miserables masterclass.
"I performed with the professionals and it was immense, I got the bug.
"I was at the back of the stage thinking, 'This is what I want to do'."
Still working in IT, Douglas was soon winning roles in film, TV and theatre - from Taggart and BBC drama The Key to an advert for AOL.
Douglas said: "For some reason I found it pretty easy to get parts. The characters I play tend to be surgeons and policemen, possibly because I am 6ft tall, professionallooking and have a Glasgow accent."
Working in Jersey for six months in 2001, Douglas also began to write a theatre blog.
It wasn't long before 20,000 people were reading his site and he now has 100 volunteer reviewers around the country.
Fascinated by the mechanics of film-making, he took part in a series of classes run by Canadian director Elliot Grove, the founder of both the Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He said: "I actually showed him a short film I was working on at the time and he told me it was good and it would sell. Those words were music to my ears."
In 2005, BAFTA Scotland invited him to make a short film of the red carpet at their awards - as no-one else had showed any interest.
National Theatre Scotland invited him to their bash and he got a taste for something bigger - finding out how the world's biggest film stars made it to the top.
Douglas said: "I wanted to make a film about how you become successful in Hollywood.
"After all, this is what a lot of people on the theatre network want to know about.
"A lot of what we do on the website is about trying to coach people to be a success."
And Douglas also showed them how keeping going when things go wrong can pay dividends.
At the Oscars, he ended up in the lift with singer Celine Dion - but couldn't remember who she was.
He said: "I was staring at her because I knew who she was but I just couldn't place her.
"I had my camera on but her bodyguard told me he would take the tape and crunch it so it never ended up in the film.
"Then I look up and see Kate Winslet in that famous green dress coming towards me.
"I didn't get to speak to her, sadly, but I got her on film."
:: Making It In Hollywood by Douglas .McFarlane is available from Amazon, follow the link http://tinyurl.com/hollywoodfilm
Beverly Hills, CA (PRWEB) December 10, 2010
In the tough business of show business, there are not many ways to make a successful film outside of the Hollywood studio system. It's even tougher in the low-budget independent film world. Today however, saw the successful U.S. launch of Making It In Hollywood, where a blogger from Scotland turned his celebrity blog into a feature length documentary and partnered with Amazon.com to launch the DVD in the U.S. today.ShareThis Email PDF Print
Kilt-cam - Douglas McFarlane at the Oscars
It was an invite to cover the Oscars for his film and theatre blog that connected the ideas which were rushing around the head of first-time director Douglas McFarlane. He had been acting for several years prior to this, performing in theatres around his native Glasgow, character parts in a wide variety of independent films, and TV on a few occasions. Like many people who are intrigued with show business, he was keen to understand what it really takes to be successful in the Hollywood machine. Using his internet expertise, McFarlane started social networks in film and theatre which soon generated large communities. "As soon as I got the Academy nod, the plan was to interview indie filmmakers and blog an article to my UK Theatre Network and UK Film Network, using my high definition camera, laptop and smartphone", McFarlane says, "but all that changed on my first weekend in Hollywood".
After securing interviews with independent actors, directors and presenters working in Hollywood, he was invited to an exclusive pre-Oscars event where Ennio Morricone was receiving an Honorary Oscar award from the legendary film producer Dino-De-Laurentiis (who sadly passed away recently aged 91). Morricone had composed hundreds of film scores including the all-time classic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and his work continues to be used in QuintenTarantino films. "Suddenly the atmosphere in the room changed and a tall grey haired gentleman passed through the crowd while the invited journalists from Fox News jostled for position in front of my camera", McFarlane says. "Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood arrived and hugged his old friend who he hadn't seen in 40 years. It was at that very moment, that I realised I was filming a behind-the-scenes view of Hollywood that a wider audience would be interested in seeing", the director adds.
Cannes was the next stop for our newly confident documentary maker and a fifteen minute short version of Making It In Hollywood was entered into the festival. It seems that all of Hollywood descends on Cannes in May as the tranquil beachfront is turned into an exclusive red carpet extravaganza and deals are made aboard large multi-million pound yachts. Jessica Simpson was launching her film "Major Movie Star" which created a media frenzy and clashes with bodyguards. With supporting camera from indie filmmaker Kevin Clark, they were able to film the event in close detail. In another scene in the documentary, Leonardo Di Caprio waves to fans in the Cannes sunshine, only to be later filmed at the airport being whisked away under a hoodie, avoiding the publicity that he was actively seeking only an hour earlier.
London was the next part of the journey as the BBC and Film London were running an annual competition to win "£100,000 to make a film". Winning through the initial stages to get to the top ten applicants was difficult enough but could our new director really convince those at the top ? The hard work over several weeks, culminated in a 4 day film school and a pitch to some of the most influential people in the British film business. This lead on to a trip to Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival, in the beautiful snow-capped mountains of Salt-Lake City. "I wanted to get more feedback from actors who had made it to the top of their career to keep a balance between those who were trying to make it and those who already had", says McFarlane. After hundreds of phone calls, chance meetings and serendipity, the A-listers started to talk. Sharon Stone and Ewan McGregor were first to provide insightful thoughts on how their success has come about. McFarlane adds, "I also interviewed Jackie Chan's son, Jaycee, and he let me know how he felt being part of an infamous filmmaking family".
It was back to London for the BAFTA's and an enviable slot on the red carpet next to the BBC to interview as many of the Brits who are household names in Hollywood. Tilda Swinton, Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard and Kate Hudson, all stopped to share a thought about Making It In Hollywood. The adventure ends with a final trip back to the 82nd Oscars in Hollywood where perhaps the most succinct view of Making It In Hollywood came from well-known New York Times film critic David Carr. "Douglas what you need to remember is that there is this whole heaving apparatus that goes on, independent of film. It's this huge throbbing machine where bells go off, and whistles blow, smoke comes out, and eventually everybody, the stars, the journalists, and maybe even sometimes the movies are thrown clear. But in general it isn't really about the movies. It's about a society need for a narrative of fame to go with these films. They need to know the story behind the stories that they've just seen."
McFarlane says "Making the documentary was probably the most exciting two years of my life, as I worked with a lot of great people and spoke to a lot of stars who I had admired from afar. I was able to understand the hard work, dedication, networking, skills and talent that you need in order to truly be successful in the toughest business, in the toughest town."
Making It In Hollywood is out now on Amazon.com with a UK release in January. It will also be available on Amazon's Video On Demand early in 2011.