Tetris – Jon S Baird on shooting the movie Tetris in Aberdeen
Film director Jon S Baird today hailed Aberdeen for making his “dreams come true” after shooting wrapped on the big budget Hollywood movie Tetris.
For the last week, the streets of Aberdeen have been transformed into Soviet Russia as part of the multi-million pound production, which stars Taron Egerton and tells the origin story of the legendary 80s videogame.
The Peterhead-born director said the shoot – which involved a cast and crew of around 300 people – “exceeded expectations” and hopes it will herald the start of more film production in the region.
Shooting began last Sunday outside the zoology building in Tillydrone before moving to Seamount Court and Gerrard Street in the city centre.
Speaking from Glasgow, after returning with the crew on Friday, Jon said: “I’m a bit shell-shocked in a way about how well it has gone – and proud.
“It sounds a bit soft for somebody from the north-east but I’m a bit emotional because it’s proved to me it wasn’t just a dream.
“I really can’t speak highly enough of the experience we had in Aberdeen.”
Although the shoot often attracted large crowds of onlookers, Jon said it never hindered production.
He said: “The crowds of people who came to see the filming were so well behaved and so respectful and so quiet.
“I think the crew just couldn’t believe that there were such big crowds and they were all so quiet.
“Usually when you film in a city people shout out or try to ruin your takes. North-east people were very respectful.
“And that was the thing that really melted my heart. Everybody was just so excited and encouraging and supportive.”
After filming finished at the zoology building, the cast and crew moved to Seamount Court on the Gallowgate.
Jon said: “The residents at Seamount Court were so cooperative because we were quite intrusive to their lives for a day. But they were very welcoming and inquisitive.
“I think the thing the crew were most impressed by was the encouragement, the excitement and the support that they got.”
Local businesses around the areas of filming also reaped the rewards of the production, Jon said.
“On the last day we were filming in Gerrard Street and someone on the crew got a pie from the bakery on the corner,” he said.
“The pie was so good that the next thing you know 300 people on the crew descended on the local bakery. It felt good that that was happening.”
The film’s Hollywood star was also impressed with the area.
Jon said: “Taron had a great time while he was here. He took his dog down the beach for a walk and marvelled at the scenery. He thought everyone was incredibly friendly.”
The production has now moved back to Glasgow for the final few days of shooting and Jon will then begin six months of editing.
Although the Apple-produced film doesn’t have a release date, it’s hoped it will premiere either later this year or in 2022.
Jon says the success of the Tetris shoot could open the doors to other film productions.
He said: “I really hope that others can capitalise on it and also the councils. Now they’ve got the experience they can say ‘this is what it takes’. Because we can do it – we can absolutely do it – and we’ve just proved it over the last week.”
Ryan Houghton, Aberdeen City Council’s business manager, said: “The Tetris shoot was a fantastic opportunity to put the city on the map and show other film production companies what we can offer.
“This has shown that we can put in all the necessary measures and we can work with local residents. We will do all we can to help film productions in the future.”
Jon said filming so close to home proved to be an unexpectedly emotional experience.
He said: “At the end of the shoot the medic from the crew who’s a local person came up to me and said ‘Thank you so much for taking this up here and for highlighting what we can do’.
“And that really got to me. I’ve been so busy in the film and rushing around trying to make this movie that you can’t really take it in and really appreciate what you’re doing until you look back on it.
“But that was a moment that really got to me because I’m from here and I’ve always wanted to do this.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to do this so early in my career. I thought it would take a good few films before I had the weight to be able to bring something like this back home.
“In the back of my mind, it was kind of a pipe dream – but it has come true a lot sooner than I thought.”