BAFTA down his briefs - An interview with Iain Hendo / Creative

I mentioned a few months ago that I was going to start posting more of what I truly love on my blog, and that’s what I totally intend to do starting today. Starting with an interview I did somewhat recently with Scottish filmmaker Iain Henderson. At twenty years old, college graduate Iain Henderson already has a BAFTA under his belt (quite literally, I wish I was joking). So I guess you could say he’s doing ‘nae bad’.

Iain gained the BAFTA new talent award after the great success of his blissfully Glaswegian tribute to the commonwealth games ‘The Wee 'Hings’. The short film starring Scottish hip-hop Legend MOG was screened at the Glasgow Commonwealth games opening ceremony last year, to an audience of forty thousand spectators.

A year on from the 'The wee 'hings' triumphant screening at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games opening ceremony I caught up with Iain to ask him a few questions about the experience.

Where did film-making begin for you? and when?
It all started outside a party. I was chatting away to my now good friend Lewis Wardrop - he had just moved to study Film & TV at University. He asked me to act in a short film, I'd never really done anything like that before and I gave it a shot. When I was on location I kept having ideas for shots and plot twists but quite rightly I was told to just stick to the script. I then decided that I'd prefer to be on the other side of the camera, so I went on to do a course at Cardonald College in Glasgow.

I've always been around cameras as both my parents are keen amateur photographers, so naturally I picked up filmmaking quickly with the support of the brilliant staff at the college. I also write stories in school and in my teenage years I used to mix samples over dance tunes so I was able to transfer this to editing and built on my skills from there.
Image credit to Iain Henderson.

What inspires you to create?
I've been inspired closer to home than you might think. In my first year in college I discovered Scottish Hip Hop and began shooting rap battles and music videos. I took a lot of inspiration from the talent which was around me and started my own enterprise, Sketchy Productions, filming live events, doing photography and directing music videos. I watched a lot of music videos online, breaking them down and developing new ideas and techniques.

I also take a lot of inspiration from BAFTA-New Talent director Garry Fraser, who transformed his life and began teaching youths in the community practical film-making and acting skills. I thought if he'd been able to achieve this much, why couldn't I push myself and do the same.

Where did the ‘The ‘wee hings’ come from? What was it like seeing it come to life?
Well basically in 2014, an organisation called Creative Loop, who bridge the gap between education and industry, put on their annual student media festival in Glasgow. With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, they hosted a pitching competition with the brief "What Makes Glasgow Great?" - and when I first found out I thought it was the people of course and all the 'Wee 'Hings' that make up our brilliant, diverse city. I had to capture the friendly attitude of the people, the local patter and showcase the landmarks. I thought the best way to say more with less would be to hand craft a Scottish rap/ poetry piece that would highlight all of these things. So after pitching to a panel made up of industry professionals, I got a few Scottish hip hop artists around a table at the BBC offices and began jotting down ideas.

Great response from the crowd at the opening ceremony. Image Credit Iain Henderson

It was amazing to see the idea turn into a reality - I have the most amazing time working with a cast of completely non-actors, just real Glasgow people who gave it their all. It was really inspirational really.

I was amazed by what MOG had written for the soundtrack and I begin to write my own contribution as well. It was the first time I really wrote and performed a proper piece of poetry and since then I've taken that to new heights too.

More rewarding than anything else was seeing the reaction from all my friends and family who were involved - everyone felt really proud to be Glaswegian and a part of such a big thing.

And to see your work showcased to 40,000 people at the Glasgow Commonwealth games, how was that?
It was absolutely amazing, I felt like I was on top of the world! When I got to the ceremony and sat in my seat, there was a massive inflatable IRN BRU bridge in the way of the screen... so I decided to stand down at the touchline to get a clear shot of my reaction with the screen behind me and also film the audience as well. It was beautiful to see so many faces light up in front of me and the roars of laughter and clapping throughout. After it finished people came down to shake my hand and get their picture with me - it was surreal. The most unbelievable experience, it was like I had just scored the winning goal in the cup final at Celtic park - the stadium erupted.

Image credit to Bafta Scotland. Left to right MOG, Iain Henderson, Laura Briggs, Stuart Jackson, Shaun Dempsey
Who in terms of filming and ethos inspires you in Scotland?
As I said earlier, I take a lot of inspiration from local musicians, rappers, artists and bands, for example Hector Bizerk who I've worked with on a number of projects now, including a film featuring the National Poet for Scotland Liz Lochhead. Hector Bizerk are taking Scottish Hip Hop to new heights which has been really inspiring to be a part of.

Specifically in the film-making community, my peers at college have also been really inspirational because it's been interesting to work on a diversity of shoots and encourage each other to take it to the next level.

On a larger scale, through working alongside Garry Fraser I've been introduced to Irvine Welsh, who we've filmed an interview with as well as sharing a pint down at the Hibs Stadium executive suite after his new book launch. Irvine is one of the soundest people I've met and his work is without a doubt brilliant and it's inspiring to see him encouraging us to go for it just as he did.

We know you’ve been doing work with Wideo media, Tell us about that?
Iain Henderson with Bafta down Trousers
BAFTA down his briefs!
 Credit to Iain Henderson
Yes, it's varied from projects teaching young people from schemes practical creative skills to filming a documentary about the independence referendum. Garry Fraser who runs Wideo Media has been granted permission to develop Irvine Welsh's short stories into a feature film, and I'll be a part of making that which is really exciting. We've been getting a lot of support from people around us and soon we will be launching a crowd funding campaign to help get us on our feet and run another Inner City Arts course for young people to start their journey into the creative industries.

We will also be creating an online platform for people in Scotland which is not to be missed.

Garry  (From Wideo Media) made a great comment a few weeks back about how people who have achieved within the filming community should help those who haven’t to promote them to do the same. How do you feel about that? Is that something you believe in?
I think it's important for people to come together and support each other's work. We should be building a real community and developing our skills together. I think everyone can take a lesson from another person, we all have our own perspective and everyone's ideas should be valued.

We see that you won a BAFTA ? How did you feel when you found out?
It was absolutely brilliant to find out 'The Wee 'Hings' won the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award in the Entertainment category. Even the nomination itself was an honour. I took a number of friends and family along to the Arches on the night and when it was announced the place erupted and before I knew it I was jumping around on stage with my dad and brother, getting lifted up in the air as the crew joined us. It was the icing on the cake of the Commonwealth Games film experience.

If you could give advice to someone wanting to start filming, what would you say?
I would encourage anyone to go for it and apply for a college course. As Irvine Welsh told me when we asked him the same question, even just get involved in a local community project or group and take it from there. There're no limits so just find your feet and give it your all. You might not know exactly what you want to do now but trust me give everything creative a try along the way and by the end you'll find out what your strengths are and you can play to those. So just batter on and good luck!!

You can view 'the wee hings' on youtube here. You can also catch up with Iain on twitter here.


  1. Wow. What a successful young man. Great interview.

  2. fab post...well done on the bafta :)