In Conversation with David Mackenzie

Acclaimed Scottish writer, producer and director David Mackenzie is best known for Hell or High Water and this year’s Outlaw King. Hear him in conversation with Edith Bowman as they discuss the making of Outlaw King (starring Chris Pine) and of Mackenzie's other big hits. Find some of our favourite moments below!

Choreographing vs. improvising

We had the attitude that we will make this feel jazz-like.

Outlaw King required so many intricately orchestrated stunts that Mackenzie had to find the middle ground between getting the shots required and cultivating a loose, freeform environment. Although he prefers an almost improvisational working environment when shooting a film, he found that this particular film required a mix of both approaches to be successfully realised.

Planning ahead

In order to get just one more take whenever they wanted, Mackenzie said the shooting schedule was constructed with efficiency as the highest priority. It meant that they always felt the ticking clock urging them on, but also that they had time to try scenes multiple times to make sure they got that one perfect take.

When you're making movies, half the time you're battling the monster which is the schedule.

Creating a story out of history

History doesn't give you narrative convenience.

Many directors of historical dramas are asked how they turn a real-life story into a narrative arc. In the case of Robert the Bruce (portayed by Chris Pine), Mackenzie notes that the real man had already been immortalised in Braveheart as a turncoat, challenging Mackenzie to reinvent him as a man who did the best he could under the circumstances. That, combined with the fact that he struggled against more than one nemesis at once in real life, meant the story had to be carefully crafted for today's audience.