“The name ’Worrying Drake Productions’ came from when John was trying to log into his Xbox Live account for the first time and he put in ‘John McPhail’ and it suggested ‘Worrying Drake’. Nowhere near ‘John McPhail’. John clicked accept by mistake and just kept it. We’ve used it since.”
'Worrying Drake Productions' was established back in October 2012. John McPhail had been writing and acting in a Scottish comedy group for some time, when he had the urge to start directing his own material. Working alongside friends Tyler Collins, Calum ‘Bob’ Weir and Stuart Doherty, McPhail approached Andrew Lanni. The two worked together on a BBC Drama and McPhail invited Lanni to come on board and producing the film. The original plan was to start shooting the short in December of that year, but when an incident happened at McPhail and Lanni’s work which lead them to having a two week break, the group decided to put the foot to the floor and step up production.
‘Notes’, a romantic comedy about two flatmates who never see each other yet leave each other post-its around their shared flat, was filmed over a weekend, the 10th and 11th of November 2012. McPhail and Lanni had pulled in favours from everywhere to gain equipment, locations and crew. Collins was immediately cast as the leading role ‘Adam’ and after an excellent meet and greet, EmmaClaire Brightlyn was cast opposite him as ‘Abi’. McPhail also needed an older cast member to which he cast Jim Sweeney, who John had work with on an indie feature years before, as the ‘Landlord’. Shooting in the accommodation McPhail stayed in while working for the BBC, the crew were successful in filming a nine minute short film in two nights. Doherty then went on to take on the editing process while Collins used his multi-talents to start composing a soundtrack for the film.
The Story So Far...
‘Notes’ was completed a month later on the 15th of December. It was at this time the Worrying Drake Productions team decided to set a goal for themselves: to create three short films elevating themselves each time in the way of performance and production value to get them ready for their ultimate goal of creating a feature length film.
So proud of ‘Notes’ , McPhail entered it into its first film festival, the 'Edinburgh Bootleg Film Festival’ in March 2013. Followed by a screening and Q&A by McPhail and Calum 'Bob' Weir, ‘Notes’ picked up the ‘Best Scottish Film Award’ in its first film award in its first film festival.
All the while this was going on, back in January 2013, John McPhail sent around his second script originally titled ‘No Visa For You’ which was shortly renamed to Worrying Drake Productions second short film ‘V For Visa’. Still keeping with ‘some’ themes of romance, the dark romantic comedy was about a singer marrying his bands stalker to keep his visa and keep him in country. The story was also slightly infulenced by Tyler Collins' recent dispute over his UK Visa. A slightly more ambitious project than ‘Notes’ was, with more locations, more characters and more creativity.
Andrew Lanni, Calum ‘Bob’ Weir and Stuart Doherty reprised their roles along with other ‘Notes’ crew coming back to join the second short as well as new faces such as Kayleigh Little and Lauren Lamarr. Tyler Collins again starred as ‘Bradley’ the bands singer with supporting roles from ‘Notes’ EmmaClaire Brightlyn giving a fierce performance as his ‘Visa Lady’ and Jim Sweeney as the ‘Dad’ the team needed a leading lady. This came in the way of actress Natalie Wallace playing the role of 'Stacey', Bradley's stalker!
Shooting for ‘V For Visa’ took place over two weekends, the 30th and 31st of March and the 6th and 7th of April 2013. The short had several locations that were filmed all over Glasgow and back at McPhail’s home in Avonbridge. Once filming was finished, Collins again set out to write a soundtrack while Doherty got back into the edit suite. ‘V For Visa’ was completed on the 21st of May 2013. However, again pushing the Worrying Drake Productions goals along, McPhail had started to write his next script soon after completing ‘V For Visa’. On the 24th of April 2013, preproduction on ‘Doug & Steve’s Big Holy Adventure’, the third film in 'Worrying Drake Productions Trilogy of Short Comedies' had begun. Or was it their third short?
With ‘Notes’ and ‘V For Visa’ doing well in the festival circuit, John McPhail had been asked to write a short for a group of Edinburgh students, to which he wrote the romantic comedy ‘Just Say Hi’, a two minute romantic comedy about a boy and girl meeting at a bus stop.
Shortly after being told the short he had written would not be able to made, McPhail decided to take the script himself and enter the Virgin Media Short Film Competition. The script grabbed attention of Tyler Collins and with no persuasion, ‘V For Visa’ leading lady Natalie Wallace was on board playing opposite him.
With a team together, again with producer and first assistant director Andrew Lanni, ‘Notes’ and ‘V For Visa’ sound recordist Graeme Deacon and new director of photography John Young the cast and crew stepped out on the 1st of July 2013 and within five hours had shot ‘Just Say Hi’. By the time they had got back to McPhail’s house and taking on the edit himself, it was assembled two hours later. By the 4th of July it was completed and uploaded to the Virgin Media Shorts website.
Preproduction of ‘Doug & Steve’s Big Holy Adventure’ had not been put off due to ‘Just Say Hi’ though. The short film about a supportive friend helping his friend try and get with a church goer on a sponsored walk was again a step up from ‘V For Visa’ with a larger cast, more locations, more production values. New actors joined Worrying Drake Productions veterans Tyler Collins and EmmaClaire Brightlyn such as Euan Cuthbertson and Joanne Thomson. Collins playing 'Doug' infatuated over Thomson's 'Catherine' with supportive friend 'Steve' being played by Cuthbertson.
Filming took place over two weekends, the 20th and 21st and the 27th and 28th of July 2013, and again filming took place all over Glasgow and Falkirk. More cast members, more extras, vehicles, a bigger crew, new equipment and more songs for the soundtrack composed by Collins the Worrying Drake Productions team had continued to remember their goals. With technical problems and during production and a busy industry time, 'Doug & Steve's Big Holy Adventure' was completed on the 21st of October 2013.
On the 11th of September 2013, ‘Just Say Hi’ had been short listed with 12 other films and from there began a heavy social media push to get votes for the short. Director John McPhail, producer Andrew Lanni and actors Tyler Collins and Natalie Wallace travelled to London for the award ceremony on the 7th of November 2013.
After a walk on the red carpet, Worrying Drake Productions did a first for the Virgin Media Shorts Awards, walking away with two out of the three awards, the ‘Tivo Award’ and also the ‘Nikon’s People’s Choice Award’! A great success for Worrying Drake Production, the two awards also came £5,000 in Nikon
equipment as well with another £5,000 for spending on a production. More money than all four of the shorts had cost combined.
With four short films under their belts, Worrying Drake Productions had achieved more than they set out to do in one year, still one goal remained to be completed. John McPhail had been writing and developing two feature length scripts since summer 2013 however it was now time to put one of those scripts into action. Again with Worrying Drake Productions veteran producers Andrew Lanni and Lauren Lamarr and actor Tyler Collins, the team set out to make the companies debut feature film ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’
As well as making some incredibly hard crew decisions, the initial problem of funding was very apparent to the team from the get go. They knew they needed to raise enough money to fund the ambitious project as well as pay for the cast and crew. This wasn’t a four day, shooting over a weekend kind of shoot. The team decided to start funding with a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo kicking off with a cast, crew, industry and press screening of all four of their short films at Cineworld in Glasgow on the 28th of January 2014, the Indiegogo campaign started the night before.
The Indiegogo campaign set out to try and achieve the team £10,000, a large feat to achieve in itself. The team ran a vigorous social media campaign, knowing that it was a full time job to make sure that the crowd funding campaign was heard. Pushing the campaign, especially within the last four days, the team managed to surpass their target goal! Along with the Indiegogo campaign and money won from the Virgin Media Awards the previous year, the team were on their way to funding their feature film.