I really feel that I should start this blog post with a few abject apologies. I know I haven’t really posted anything since my return from Scotland. I blame that completely on the effects of #Droughtlander. You know, this funny thing happened over the last few months. I remembered that I had a life before all things Outlander consumed me for the past year. It was nice to have a chance to reconnect and do some things that had fallen by the wayside.
However, now that the end of #Droughtlander is in sight, I’m ready to get back to it. I’ve truly missed writing these posts and I definitely need to get back in the groove before May. Oh, did I not mention that I’m going back to Scotland in May for the OutlanderUK Gathering and more? Don’t worry, it will be fully covered! Not only will I blog it here on GreatScot, but I’ll also be meeting up and spending a week with the lovely ladies from The Outlander Podcast. No telling what hi-jinx we’ll get up to, but I fully expect it to be covered in two mediums!
Up, up and away
Many of you know by now that I usually start these posts covering a trip with a shoe pic (it’s become something of a tradition because of the pics that Terry Dresbach usually tweets at the start of her trips). However, I’m starting my coverage this time with the airport. Sitting around in the airport in Atlanta is not usually that much fun, but I have come to realize that it pays to keep your eyes open around any flight from ATL to LAX. Atlanta has become a very popular location for the TV/Movie industry with the likes of The Walking Dead and Vampire Diaries filming in the area. Knowing this, I kept my eyes open for any celebrities returning to LA and, sure enough, I was not disappointed. As I entered the jet bridge, I realized that actor John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun, Shrek) was only a couple of people ahead of me. Even after boarding the plane and taking my seat (I was lucky enough to be upgraded to business class), I saw several other people who looked familiar but no one to whom I could definitively put a name.
Eventually (the plane was delayed a bit by an equipment change), I took my shoe pic and then we were up in the air and on our way to the land of movie stars. I don’t usually comment on the flight itself, but I’ll make an exception in this case as it was one of the more bumpy flights I’ve ever been on. We had over an hour of pretty constant turbulence. On our arrival into LA, the bright lights were pretty spectacular. I know the picture I took from the plane is a bit blurry, but I think you get the general idea.
Gotta love room to stretch.
Bright lights, big city!
Upon arriving, I was lucky enough to have Candida pick me up at the airport and whisk me off to her house. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (and probably again and again…), the best thing about Outlander is all the truly special people I have met and the lasting friendships that have been forged. It’s wonderful to have such a great home base for this trip and to get to spend more time with Candida. 🙂
The Big Day
After waking up early (thanks to a body still on Eastern Daylight Time), and accomplishing a few work related conference calls, it was time to get ready for the big event. Thanks to the President being in town to film an appearance for the Jimmy Kimmel show (I’m pretty sure the President is following me as he was in Atlanta two days earlier), we decided we needed to head over to Hollywood well in advance of the 7pm start time for the Outlander Paleyfest panel.
This would probably be a good time to explain Paleyfest for those who may not be familiar. Paleyfest is an annual fundraiser for the Paley Center for Media. William S. Paley was the founder of CBS (a broadcast network in the US) and also founder of the Paley Center for Media. Paleyfest is composed of panel events for selected television shows and it is an honor that Outlander was selected to be included in the event! Continue reading →
The day started bright and early this morning as we had an action packed day planned. I probably owe Candida the first shower tomorrow as I apparently used more than my half of the hot water. Oops. After a quick breakfast, we hit the A9 south towards Stirling where we were meeting one of the Outlander UK girls at our first Outlander filming location of the day. We arrived right on schedule and found our compatriot with no problems. She led us on a short hike up the hill to a very familiar location to those who have either seen episode 105 – Rent or keep up with Matt B. Roberts’ pictures of the Day.
University of Stirling
Cottage used in Episode 105 – Rent
Next up, we headed over to Culross. Culross is the village used by the Outlander team for the fictional Crainesmuir as well as some of the outdoor garden scenes at Castle Leoch. The Palace itself was closed but we were able to explore the gardens to our heart’s content. We then ventured up cobblestone streets to the house that was used for Geillis and Arthur Duncan’s house. It has scaffolding because they are still in the process of returning the house to its pre-filming color. Continue reading →
Well, isn’t it nice to be back to an episode with some Gàidhlig? Oh, and that little other matter of a certain couple getting married. 😉
While there wasn’t a great deal of Gàidhlig dialogue this week, we did get some great new words as well as repeats of some old favorites. Dare I hope that some of you are starting to recognize and understand some of the more common words and phrases?
11:48 Jamie to Rupert and Angus when they barge in (Thanks to Janice!)
Well, it’s been a few days and I’m still not down from the high of all that I experienced at the OutlanderPremiere on Friday night. It’s almost hard to know where to begin, but I have heard that the beginning is a very good place to start!
First of all, for those who are a bit wary, this is not going to be a recap of the actual first episode, so those who are determined to be unspoiled on August 9th need not worry! There are some excellent episode recaps out already that have that covered. What I am going to do is give you a window into my experience. Hopefully, this will allow everyone who wasn’t able to attend to feel at least a part of the excitement.
Tell me if you’ve heard the one about 6 women trying to get ready in a single hotel room…
That’s right, you heard me. Before we could go anywhere, it was necessary for 6 of us to get dressed, hair styled and made up. Not that easy as you might imagine. Especially as all of us had brought more than one outfit and it was necessary for each of us to try everything we brought on and get the consensus of the group on THE outfit that should be worn. Through that process, we took the time to order in a lunch as we feared—and were correct—that this might be the last meal of the evening.
Appetites dealt with, it was time to begin the shuffling required to get everyone shower, mirror and straightening iron time. Luckily, we had our own personal stylist on hand. It’s always nice to be friends with someone with red carpet experience. And while there may be no ‘Words heard on set’ tweets from Maril due to the filming hiatus for the premiere, I can report that the following words were heard in our hotel room:
Suck in…Lift your boobs….do you mind if I stick my hand here and adjust this…
And the best of all…
I usually get dinner first before I let someone do this.
But, right on time, we were tweaked, looking perfect, and all ready to go! We requested our UberXL vehicle and headed out for our special night.
I think all of us were still pinching ourselves that we were really going to the OutlanderPremier as invited guests and we really had no idea what to expect. Soon enough, however, we pulled up to the Spreckels Theater to join a line of others waiting for the Will Call lines to open. Coincidentally, a band of kilted men came by to help us pass the time. I mean, really, what could be more fun and appropriate! I couldn’t resist having my picture taken with them and was given an Outlander bandana of my very own.
Me and the kilted ones!
The Birthday girl!
Wait…do you have to leave?
I won’t show a picture, but I was amazed to find that even two of Diana Gabaldon’s children were waiting in line behind us. I figure they are in store for a pretty interesting evening since I’ve heard Diana say that they have never read her books as, in the words of one daughter, “I don’t want to read sex scenes written by my mother.” However, it doesn’t surprise me at all that they didn’t expect any special treatment.
Pretty soon it was 6:30 and the Will Call line began moving quickly. I made very sure that I stuck close to the lucky girl who actually won the tickets as I knew my +1 status was dependent on her!
Once we had our tickets in hand, we walked behind the Step and Repeat Backdrop and Plaid Carpet the stars would soon walk and entered the atrium of the theater. It was a wonderland of trees, stones and kilted men. I truly felt I was walking through the trees at Craigh na Dun. Once in the theater lobby, we were able to peruse a selection of blue vases—a la Claire’s shopping in Inverness.
Golden, well blue, ticket.
A magical forest.
Can I pass up a pic with a man in a kilt?
Blue vases and Heather
I can’t begin to list everyone I met from the Outlander Twitter and Facebook worlds. As with all Outlander-related events, meeting people in person that you normally only tweet and Facebook message with is one of the best parts of the evening. I quickly ducked into the actual theater for a moment to see where my seat was. Turns out it was in the Orchestra level in Row S. This was one of the last rows in that level of the theater, but the venue was so small and intimate, I was sure I would have no problems seeing anything on stage.
Keeping my eyes wide open…
I then went back out to the atrium to people watch as others arrived. I had the immense privilege of speaking with several key executives including Chris Parnell (Sony) and Karen Bailey (Starz). However, the highlight by far was the chance to speak with Bear McCreary. He graciously stopped and spoke with me for three or four minutes. I wish I could remember in more detail what he said—or what I said for that matter. I do remember telling him how much I admired his use of instrumentation in his work and he said how amazed he was at all of the support from Outlanders so far. I’m also crushed that I didn’t remember to have someone take my picture with him but I did get some video of him with Kathy. I also spotted Zac McGowan, Luke Arnold and Jessica Parker Kennedy from Starz’s Black Sails walking through as well. Last but not least, I also had the opportunity to speak briefly with Jolie Lash of Access Hollywood. She is the one who has put together some of the funniest cast interview filmed during her set visit to Scotland back in February, including the “Sexiest Gaelic Words” and “What is it about a man in a kilt” videos.
Marisa and I with Karen and Palmer Bailey
Marisa and Kathy with Chris Parnell
Trust me this is Zac McGowan
At this point, the greeters started clearing the lobby for the big arrivals. One of these days I’m going to learn that sometimes it doesn’t pay to always follow instructions, but alas this wasn’t the day, so I took my seat. Others who didn’t follow directions got some great pictures. As I stated earlier, there are no bad seats in this theater.
View of Screen
It really starts to get real or should that be reel…
I had just settled in my seat when I noticed a bit of a buzz. Ushers were escorting the cast to seats among the crowd in the Orchestra level. I would never have expected that to happen. I managed to get some video of them but I apologize for the quality and the sound as I was just a bit excited.
First up was Lotte Verbeek (Geilis Duncan).
Next, crowd favorite Graham McTavish (Dougal MacKenzie)
And entering to a great ovation, author Diana Gabaldon along with Co-executive Producer Maril Davis.
Also to the delight of the crowd, Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall) were next. After Sam was seated, I realized I had a perfect view of his face in profile from less than 20 feet away. Never in my wildest imaginings did I think I would be able to see Sam out of the corner of my eye while watching Outlander. I could actually see during the screening which scenes he paid close attention to and which were the ones where he grabbed his water bottle.
And last, but most definitely not least, one of my personal favorites, Tobias Menzies (Frank/Black Jack Randall).
Once everyone was seated, the house lights dimmed and out stepped Bear McCreary to give a live performance prior to the screening. He began with a couple of traditional Scottish folk songs: The haunting ballad Loch Lomond and then a fiddle tunes “Clean Pease Strae” and “Comin’ Through the Rye.” Next, was the very first live performance of the theme for Jamie and Claire that Bear wrote especially for the show. It was so haunting and evocative, I swear I could feel the wind from the moor and smell the heather. Lastly, Bear’s wife Raya Yarbrough took the stage to perform the song from the Outlander opening title sequence—a modified version of The Skye Boat Song. It literally gave me chills. I took a few short video clips but you will have to excuse my inability to keep quiet.
Loch Lomond –
“Clean Pease Strae” and “Comin’ Through the Rye”
Jamie and Claire’s Theme
I am also posting a video that someone else took of the entire performance and posted on YouTube. The video quality isn’t wonderful but the sound is pretty good.
Everything I thought it could be and so much more…
Once the live performance was over, the curtain lifted and the credits started to roll. You could hear cheers and smatters of applause as names we know and already love flashed on the screen. Costume Designer Terry Dresbach received applause and cheers but the largest ovation by far was when Diana’s name was displayed. Thankfully for those not able to attend, Starz has released the opening title sequence on YouTube. Prepare to be amazed by the haunting vignettes and music. I will warn you that it is very addictive though. I’ve been finding myself singing the song for two days now.
I promised no spoilers for the episode content and I will hold by that. If you are interested in reading more about the actual episode, I highly recommend you read Candida’s A True Fan’s Review of Outlander Episode #101: Sassenach. She does a brilliant job and I understand the review has already been read and appreciated by those at the highest levels. As for my own reaction, I honestly can’t think of anything I would have changed. There were favorite lines, surprises, passion, action and humor. All of the things long time fans have appreciated about Outlander since 1991. Perhaps the best summary of my feelings is this tweet I sent to Maril Davis (@TallShipProds).
Not only did we get to be among the first to see a screening of the premier episode of Outlander, but there was also a moderated panel discussion afterwards. Even though jet lagged and tired from a day full of press interviews and a ComicCon panel discussion, the discussion among the participants was enjoyable and insightful. There were some great moments, especially when cheers went up for Gàidhlig tutor Àdhamh Ò Broin. Also, I think Ron Moore gave the best summary of Outlander Season 1 ever. I predict that the phrase “and that doesn’t go so well” will become a new catch phrase among Outlanders everywhere.
Here is a video released by Starz of the entire Q&A panel discussion.
The Clock Strikes Midnight
All too soon, the Q&A session was over and I knew my magical evening was drawing to a close. After lingering a bit in the lobby, trying to make the evening last as long as possible and speaking to friends, we finally exited the theater to the sidewalk outside. There we were privileged to have the opportunity to speak for quite a while with Karen Bailey, Sr. Vice President for Original Programming with Starz, and her husband, Palmer. It was great to hear some interesting tidbits about things that may be coming up for Starz and its productions.
Waving goodbye to Karen who was off to another event, I and the rest of my party adjourned to the nearby Westin hotel for a drink, some nibbles and the chance to discuss the night’s events. I sent a few congratulatory tweets to those I knew had made such wonderful contributions to the production including Terry Dresbach and Àdhamh Ó Broin.
@draiochta14 The costumes in the first episode look great! Love the blue coat as well as the negligée. The druids were fabulous! @ScotWitch
Finally, even drinks and food couldn’t prolong the evening any longer. We hopped in our UberXL and made the journey back to Kearny Mesa, a tired but thoroughly pleased party. Sadly our group of six wonderful ladies had to split up and go our separate ways, but we have wonderful memories we will share forever. Thank you so much to Marisa, Candida, Darcy, Jen, and Kathy for sharing this fantastical evening.
Watch out world. Outlander is coming!
Credits to @Heughligans (Plaid Carpet picture) and @Candida_LN (Forest Lobby picture)
OK. I’ve only had 3 hours of sleep but I’m back up and totally jazzed about finishing this blog post. Why does this never happen when I get 3 hours of sleep on a work night? But, yet again, I digress. Where did I leave off?
A moment in the sun (of Diana’s presence)
Oh, yes! Lunch! But wait, there was this other little thing that happened before lunch. As a part of signing group D, I waited my turn to get Diana to personalize my brand new copy of MOBY! Happily, the line moved pretty quickly as attendees were limited to having their copies of MOBY personalized with just their name. Being the lovely gracious woman that she is, Diana signed my copy for me in the Acknowledgements section where my name appeared. I was thrilled to have another few moments to have her sign the book, thank me for my help, and have my picture taken.
My moment with Diana!
‘S e do bheatha, Diana!
Still basking in the glow of my moment with DG, I headed up to grab some lunch. Some of us who have blogs and fan sites had deliberately maneuvered our way into the same signing group so that we could have lunch together and plot strategies for getting new subscribers for Starz. This is important: New subscribers will be one of several key drivers for the success of the Outlander TV series and determine whether it is renewed for subsequent seasons.
Entering the Armory food court, I found it to be a hub of activity. Apparently, in addition to our own event, there was also some kind of Filipino cultural celebration being held. Skirting the resultant crowds, I scoped out my options and settled on Pies! I figured a savory meat pie would be the closest meal I could come to one that Jamie and Claire likely will eat in MOBY. The Cheeseburger Meat Pie was delicious. (I really wanted the English Meat Pie, but there weren’t any ready when I ordered and besides, I was afraid that would brand me a Sassenach forever.)
After our strategy session wrapped up and lunch was devoured, we headed back down to the Fisher Pavilion for the continuation of the afternoon events.
First up on the roster of afternoon activities was a demonstration of Scottish dancing. Seattle’s Royal Scottish Dance Society delighted attendees with their performance of Scottish country dances in both soft and hard shoe. I was also delighted to hear several tunes that I recognized as staples in the Cape Breton, Nova Scotia musical repertoire. Cutest of all were the littlest costumed members of the group. I caught some lovely pictures and a few short videos to give you a taste.
After the dancing, I spent the next hour pleasantly conversing with many Outlanders I heretofore had only known through social media while valiantly ignoring the siren call of MOBY from the depths of my Random House tote bag. Next up was the hour for which we had all been waiting. It has to be something good if a sign like this shows up, right?