Outlander’s producer keeps students in the picture

Over eighty creative industry students and staff at the University of the Highlands and Islands welcomed Michael Wilson, producer of the internationally acclaimed TV series Outlander, to his first guest lecture in the region.

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Michael Wilson (third from left) with students

First in a series of industry guest lectures planned this year, the audience had an exclusive opportunity to gain insight into the film industry and gain practical advice on career pathways into TV and film production.

The event was held at Inverness College UHI on Friday 7 February 2020, with digital connectivity enabling students from across the university partnership to join in from other campuses.

Michael, who is now based in Glasgow, has worked on other well-known series and films including Harry Potter, Katie Morag, Monarch of the Glen, Taggart, Rebus and River City.

He delved into many topics, including describing the realities of filming on location in Scotland, adapting novels for the screen and working with international clients.

Drawing from his own personal experience Michael said:

“When you’re a student, preparing to start a career, the film and tv drama world can feel like something that's out of reach.  I grew up in rural Scotland, and it certainly felt that way to me.  

“When I was starting out twenty years ago it was a cottage industry in Scotland.  Crew numbers were small, and opportunities were limited, but in the past few years the landscape has completely changed.  

“There’s a revolution going on and we’re starting to make TV on an industrial scale now, and if Scotland can achieve a second studio in the next year or so we might get to do the same with film too.  So, it’s an exciting time for new entrants to the industry, abound with opportunities.” 

Charlie Wilson, programme lead for contemporary film making said:

"It is vitally important for our students to meet active industry experts, such as Michael Wilson, who are currently engaged in large scale film and  television production, particularly within the Highlands and Islands area, and to learn from their first-hand experience of working in a remote and rural environments.

“We have students on the contemporary film making programme, who have benefited from working on large scale drama shoots, such as the location filming of 'The Crown' in Caithness. This has proved to be really advantageous in their progress and understanding of the nature and reality of the industry." 

Chairing a lively question time with the audience was film, theatre and TV director and author Jessica Fox. 

She urged students to take learning from all encounters, she said:   

“Often in the creative industries we forget the importance of telling our own story; in those narratives there are powerful lessons beyond the practical ‘how to’ of career success. We get to understand the insights and wisdom needed to thrive outside of a university setting.

“To have people like Michael share their journey honestly, speaking about what they have learned along the way is a true masterclass for a creative life.”