The Scottish writer of Golden Globe-winning war movie 1917 has admitted director Sam Mendes almost forgot to tell her the movie would be shot in one continuous take.
Krysty Wilson-Cairns says she was so excited the Oscar-winning director had asked her to work on the film, she almost missed the vital information.
The screenwriter revealed she was working at home in her pyjamas when the James Bond director called.
She was so shocked she did a dance.
‘He hung up on me’
The 32-year-old from Shawlands in Glasgow told BBC Scotland’s The Nine: “I was in my pyjamas writing in my flat in London. As a writer, I just roll out of bed and start typing.
“My phone rings and Sam Mendes’ name scrolls across it. After the first ring I said hello.
“He said: ‘I have this idea, do you want to co-write it?’ I love to collaborate, I was so excited. He said it was a World War One movie – and he had no idea I was a massive war buff.
“So I danced – not a cool dance – but I danced and he said he had this one idea – it’s a messenger carrying a letter through no man’s land. He said come to my house on Tuesday and we’ll discuss.
“And the very last thing he said on the call, he was like: ‘Oh, by the way, it’s all going to be one shot.’ And he hung up on me.”
She said: “I had to text him back and say: What?”
She immediately tried to watch every one-shot movie she could get her hands on.
Released this weekend, the finished movie is a two-hour visual epic.
With Oscar buzz, two Golden Globes and nine Bafta nominations, 1917 has been critically acclaimed.
The camera follows Lance Corporals Schofield and Blake (played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) as they risk their lives by crossing enemy lines.
The pair must deliver a crucial message to stop their comrades walking into a deadly trap.
The film appears to have been shot in one continuous take with no cutaways or scene changes – just a single shot.
Wilson-Cairns said: “Basically it is designed so that you feel you are going on that journey with them. And when we sat down to write it, the idea was it should feel like it was 115 minutes in someone else’s life. That was the plan for the film.”
She added: “The characters are so engaged with the camera. And the way it moves through these locations, you forget the camera is there even though every shot is absolutely incredible and groundbreaking.”
The writer became known after landing a staff writer job on Showtime’s horror series Penny Dreadful.
She wrote the screenplay for 1917 in her flat in London, “at Sam Mendes’ kitchen table” and while researching locations in Northern France.
She was delighted to take on a project that involved working in her hometown. Some scenes were shot at the A-listed Govan Graving Docks in Glasgow.
She said: “My grandfather used to drive haulage out of there many years ago, so it was incredible to me because you go all over the world looking for the right location – somewhere that will double as this long canal – and they found it in my back garden where my grandfather used to work.
“It was lovely.”
She also managed to put a little stamp of Glasgow into the film – with one of the trenches named after Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street.
She said: “That was real. Highland Watch soldiers named a trench Sauchiehall Street.
“They actually have the plank in the Imperial War museum with Sauchiehall Street still written on it.”