I'm Haston McLaren, Director of the film "A Life in August". Having financed the production myself, I have enjoyed total freedom to spend the time necessary and make the film that I wanted to make. Hence the reason that it has taken over five years to complete the film. However, it is only through the kindness and generosity of others, who have provided amazing locations, equipment and their services without charge, that the film has come to fruition.
I may have started " A Life in August" with no connection to the film industry but, by strange coincidence, that is not how things were to remain.
In my "day gig" as an Aerospace Engineer, I found myself presented with an interesting project. What's this all got to do with films you may ask? Well; here are a couple of photographs of the said project aircraft undergoing modification. See if you can make the connection.
This is in fact, the very aircraft that appears in the flying shots in the Bond Film "Spectre". It was of course finished and airworthy before being presented to Mr Bond. Actually, the real fun was building the other aircraft which were used in the more destructive parts of the movie. As they would never leave the ground there were few safety issues to consider, so it was all just play.
Q & A
Q: Films are normally highly collaborative projects. Why did you choose to work on your own?
A: Maybe I'm a control freak. Who Knows? But, I like to think not. Working solo gives me the freedom to work with an intensity that others may find overwhelming.
Q: How did you cast your film?
A: The actor's off screen connections to their roles were of paramount importance. No one moves more like a heavily pregnant lady than a heavily pregnant lady. Who is more suited to the role of undertaker than an undertaker? I suppose it's taking method acting to the extreme. It's what I call "instinctive realism".
Q: How did you manage to perform all the camera work and technical operations while acting?
A: With great difficulty. Although working as an Aerospace Design Engineer and Flight Test Engineer, I've had to develop a keen sense of spatial awareness and of practical problem solving. Skills which, when combined with current technologies, make it possible. I don't think it would have been possible even ten years earlier, or if it had been, it would have been prohibitively expensive.
Q: Why did you choose to make a Feature Length Film as your first film?
A: Choose? That's an interesting choice of word. I would probably describe it as being compelled. I had written a number of orchestral pieces which were, by other's description, "very cinematic". Sadly, there are many examples in film where music is simply slapped on top of the visual image (Perhaps for reasons of budget, or simply that the Music Director liked the piece). Not wishing my music to suffer a similar fate, it became clear to me that I must make the film myself.
Q: What is your connection with the James Bond Film Spectre?
A: As mentioned earlier on this page, I was heavily involved in the modification and certification of the flying aircraft seen in the film. I also built much of the various aircraft that were destroyed in the crash scene.
Q: What were the biggest challenges that you faced in making the film?
A: Hands down, battling the Scottish weather. There is a lot said by Photographers, Artists and Movie Makers about the "quality of the light" in Scotland. What they don't mention is its unpredictable nature, or of course the rain.
Q: Do you have any regrets in making the film or is there anything that you would do differently?
A: Regrets? As the song says, "too few to mention". There appeared to be other forces at work during this production. Everything that seemed like an obstacle or a disaster turned out to be a blessing. Looking back, a bit spooky really. Anything I would do differently? Absolutely. If my answer was any different I would have learned nothing.
Q: Is your film an autobiographical work?
A: Fortunately not. If you dig deep enough you will probably find some contradiction to that assertion. Everything we see, hear or create is filtered through our own personal experience.
Q: Do you have any advice for would be Film Makers?
A: I'm uncomfortable with the idea of dispensing advice. Had I blindly accepted the advice offered to me, I would not have been able to make this film. Received wisdom and truth are very often different things. Listen to everything and believe nothing, unless it accords with your own logic. I do however, have plenty of thoughts on the subject that I'd be happy to share with anyone who cares to listen.
Q: What did you learn most from your experience?
A: I now have a less cynical view of humanity. Even the most troublesome requests that I made of others were generally met with nothing other than kind generosity. On most occasions, approaching others with an open heart and in an undefended manner seems to be greeted with the same. I didn't know that.
Q: What is your connection with the McLaren Formula One race team?
A: None whatsoever.