Film director, company director, actor, composer, cinematographer, musician, engineer, designer, aviator, film editor…….and self-described "tea boy" Haston McLaren chats with us in this week's edition of Workdays & Weekends!
Growing up in Glasgow, Haston was eventually lured to the bonny banks of Perthshire where he currently resides and works. "Walking around the north shore of Loch Leven is my escape from it all", he tells us. "What an idyllic spot. The abundance of wildlife is incredible too in the Perthshire countryside."
"It really is the most beautiful of counties."
Haston has always nursed a creative spirit. Prior to film-making, he worked as a full-time musician for a number of years. "My career has been varied if nothing else. Who said I was mercurial?", he laughs.
Settle in for a good read to inspire, amaze and surprise you in turn!
Tell us the weirdest / funniest thing that has ever happened to you at work?
I’m not sure that this falls into the category of the “funniest” thing that has happened, but certainly one of the stupidest and most embarrassing.
During filming for "A Life in August", I neglected to follow my own golden rule: When working in public spaces always post signage notifying "Filming in Progress”.
The frightening looking shot that I was trying to capture proved to be just that. With more than a little trepidation and painfully aware of the deteriorating weather conditions, I set to work. Suddenly all thoughts of filming evaporated. The screeching of tyres closely followed by the distressed cries of "don't jump", rapidly brought me to my senses. Without a camera in sight and being faced with a rather pathetic looking character standing on a bridge parapet contemplating the 350 foot drop below, it doesn’t take much to imagine what the yelling gentleman’s thoughts were. Understandably, he had arrived at the wrong conclusion.
With the benefit of hindsight, It would have been far better had I put my CGI (Computer Generated Image) skills to use in creating the shot. As I discovered to my cost, and more importantly the cost of the distressed gentleman concerned, my trauma counselling skills were sadly lacking. To the said gentleman, I am deeply sorry.
What signals the start of your days off?
Days off???? A rare thing indeed. There is always something to be done. Like most of my days, the daylight announces my start. I’m a real diurnal creature. I really should hibernate during the winter. Either that or move to the Southern Hemisphere for the Scottish winter. A proper day off for me involves going somewhere. So, closing the door behind me is the real starting pistol. Preferably then heading somewhere beautiful, but best of all, somewhere I’ve never been before. I always want to know what is over the next hill or round the next bend. Travel is the greatest luxury of all, and a luxury with which I've been particularly blessed.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
Who knows? Perhaps that I exist at all. I tend to keep rather a low profile, despite working in high profile industries. I was foolish enough to unwittingly stumble into a drugs bust at two a.m. in the narrow strip of Argentinian Forest lying between Paraguay and Brazil. Not a sensible place to be at the best of times. My Spanish is far from perfect and evidently was less than adequate when trying to explain myself to an intoxicated group of Gendarmerie, while looking down the wrong end of a gun.
What is at the top of your bucket list?
Well, if I'm actually going to die? I might as well do it fulfilling every boy’s dream. Flying a Supermarine Spitfire. It could indeed prove to be the first and last on that list, as I’m sure I would find it a handful. I haven’t flown anything that comes close, but I wouldn’t refuse the opportunity.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Having spent much of my working life freelancing, I don’t know that I could claim to have ever had a terrible job. Of course I’ve had a few bad experiences but, fortunately they do tend to be short lived. I recall in my younger years playing with a rock band which was inexplicably booked for a wedding. From the moment I arrived, I realized that it wasn’t going to be a conventional affair. The Groom’s family at one side of the hall, the Bride’s at the other and an open expanse like the Kalahari Desert in between. It soon descended into farce, with the band being used as some sort of weapon in the ensuing battle of the clans. All in all, a pretty unpleasant experience. No one wants to see a bride sitting on the steps in the rain, in tears, on her wedding day.
Who or what inspires you?
Everyone who thinks for themselves. The mavericks, the outsiders, the unconventional thinkers. Those who swim against the tide. These are the people who change the world. Anyone who makes something that is more than the sum of the component parts. That is not a trick. That is real magic.
The mavericks, the outsiders, the unconventional thinkers. Those who swim against the tide. These are the people who change the world.
Tell us about the day you’d love to live again. What would be your groundhog day, one you would never tire of living over and over?
Being very curious, I have a voracious appetite for new experiences, so I think reliving even the best days of my life over and over would be something of a challenge.
I definitely could revisit my experience at Laguna Verde (Bolivia). A beguiling place with little sign of human life. For good reason too. Its awesome beauty can make one forget that it is a hostile environment for us mere mortals. At an elevation of over 14,000 ft, there is a continuous cold wind blowing, which whips up a snow white foam from the stunningly beautiful metallic green lake. Literally "metallic". As it is laden with all manner of metals, minerals and naturally occurring chemicals. Arsenic included. Surrounded by the reddish brown hues of volcanoes projecting into the deep blue sky over 20,000ft. The enormous flock of mineral feeding pink flamingos add the final splash of colour to the scene. Bewilderingly, the few signs of human life to be found are not at the foot of the neighbouring Licancabur volcano, but at the top. Where ancient Inca ruins still survive.
Although my whole experience was almost certainly coloured by oxygen starvation (and as an aviator, I really should know better), I have since seen wildlife programmes featuring the lake and it really is equally as spectacular a picture as my memory paints. In case you're wondering. One of my roles is NOT with the Bolivian Tourist Board. It truly is amazing.
What’s the best part about your job?
If it's not too grandiose. Creating anything that enhances other’s lives. Music, images, environments. Anything at all that provides an emotional, physical or mental enrichment of someone's life. It's a real joy to be the conduit that provides such things.
Complete this sentence; the best things in life are…yet to come, and it goes without saying, are for sharing.
More information can be found about Haston's work and multi-award winning film “A Life in August” by visiting:
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