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2024
Jun
08
MetFilm School London Undergraduate Open Day

Metfilm School

Duncan Currie on Master’s Project & Locations role for BBC’s ‘Vigil’

By Elise Czyzowska

06 June 2023

Each year, we invite our students to watch their Graduation Project on the big screen as part of a final Celebration Screening, which gives them the opportunity to celebrate their hard work, and to see what the rest of their cohort has been up to as well. Back in April, the line-up included Stable, a three-part web series produced by MA Film & Television Production Graduate Duncan Currie.

Just three days after screening his work, Duncan was off to work on his next industry job, joining the Locations Team for Vigil, a BBC drama following the fallout after a sailor is found dead on the submarine HMS Vigil. From the makers of Line of Duty, the show stars Suranne Jones (Doctor FosterCoronation Street) and Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones).

In today’s blog, we spoke to Duncan about how he’s finding the role of Locations Assistant, the qualities he looks for in a Location Team, and of course, the making of his Graduation Project.

How are you finding your role as Locations Assistant on the upcoming season of BBC’s Vigil?

I’m really enjoying it! As much as I miss student sets, it’s great to be part of a real working crew, and to continue learning on the job. The scale is just so much bigger, and it’s really exciting to be able to work with and learn from people who have years of experience.

It’s also a great feeling to work on something that you know is going to be watched by millions!

How has the distinct style of Vigil influenced your location search?

I’ve not been as involved with the scouting of the project, since I joined just before the shoot itself began. However, scouting is a job I’ve done before, and I would say that it’s all about coming at it from both a creative, and a practical standpoint.

A location is only perfect if you can get all the people and gear to it, and it can be really disheartening when somewhere looks great, but just doesn’t work practically. But the perfect location is always out there – and there’s no better feeling than finding it!

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Across your career, you’ve worked in a number of roles within Location Teams. What do you think is the most important quality for someone in this department?

A good work ethic. You work insane hours, and often get landed with some of the worst jobs on set (don’t get me started on bins and toilets!), so it’s important that you can be a good team player, and someone who is able to stay positive.

You started work on Vigil just days after attending your Celebration Screening. Can you tell us about your Master’s Project?

For my final project, I produced Stable, a three-part web series that follows four people who escape from a clinical trial gone wrong, but who begin to doubt their decision when they find they’re highly contagious.

We were able to secure a working farm to shoot on, and, having seen our Work-In-Progress version on the big screen during our Celebration Screening, I think that location really elevated the project.

We also ran an online crowdfunder which allowed us to double our budget, giving us the time and the money to do our idea justice. Managing a larger budget was a really good experience for me, and one that I’m sure will serve me well going forward in the industry.

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Duncan Currie & Co. on set!

What did your Graduation Project teach you about yourself as a creative?

I think it taught me the importance of being ready for anything. Stable was by far the biggest project that I took on during the course, and with that scale came a whole host of unforeseen situations. For example, the farm that we worked on was still active while we were there, and our shoot was during a school holiday, meaning there were a lot of families out walking.

However, we managed to find solutions as a team, to ensure that the sense of isolation that we were trying to create was maintained.

As well as being prepared for anything, I think the number one thing that Stable cemented in me as a creative was the importance of a great team. I couldn’t have produced it without my coursemates or any of the external crew that we brought in, and our ability as a crew to trust each other to do our jobs properly was really vital in completing the project.

More generally, how did you enjoy your time at MetFilm School London?

I had a great time. It wasn’t without its stressful moments, but these have really prepared me for what it’s actually like in the industry.

It was great to have the chance to spend a year making films with people who have become true friends – it (almost) makes the essays worth it!

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And finally, for those considering MA Film & Television Production, what would be your top piece of advice?

Collaborate with as many people as possible. You can’t do it on your own, and I have no doubts that the people I worked with for my Graduation Project will be lifelong collaborators. I’m already looking forward to creating more content with them the next time I’m in London.