Diana Gabaldon’s timeless story has brought to the forefront themes of humanity, war, honor, hope, and the strength of bonds. Powerful characters and poetic narratives continue to captivate audiences, but it is also the degree of historical accuracy, of both the book and television show, that continues to bridge fiction to reality. A series beloved by millions has inspired a movement to reflect and pay tribute to the poignant events of the past that undoubtedly influenced the course of history. The rippling effect of Outlander’s global success opened doors to many unforeseen possibilities. Whether it be to relive literary destinations, celebrate the diverse history and heritage of Scotland, or to help expand the artistic community that celebrates this treasured story, Outlander continues to be a catalyst for connection and change across the globe.
We at Timeless Sass3nach Journeys have marveled at Outlander’s ability to pave new pathways to highlight and explore Scotland’s alluring landscape. Following new visionary concepts takes courage. However, when you surround yourself with kindred spirits who share the same aspirations to bring attention to the stunning backdrops of this series, one can most certainly find strength, certitude, and purpose. Paca, The Clan, is one such group that celebrates the value of friendship – building upon each other’s ideas, skills, and talents. Their natural and unstoppable camaraderie has led them to expand their roles to advocate for Jacobite history, support their local communities through charitable endeavors, and continue the Paca story by writing a screenplay to tell the story of a united group of Highlanders beyond the devastation of Culloden.
We are pleased to present our most recent interview with Grant McGregor from Paca. Come and discover their story and the progress of Grant’s period drama, Paca: After Culloden.
Paca, The Clan, consists of Grant, Andy, Barry, Jon, and Jay. Once individuals, now an inseparable band of brothers, Paca’s bond grew while being cast as supporting actors within the Outlander series. Together they faced the physiological challenges of filming in diverse weather conditions while also fully immersing themselves into the vivid scenes they were developing. These shared adventures and unforgettable experiences helped to forge a new artistic path that would soon shape their future.
If you follow Paca on their social media sites, you will quickly notice that they are drawn to adventure: hiking, performing in the Edinburgh Tattoo, providing highlighted tours of the Highlands, being active participants in supporting history, assisting with local causes, and having fun at the Highlander Flings with the greatly admired Scott Kyle. It is easy to see that their charismatic nature motivates others to follow suit and join their shared passion for all things Outlander.
What is the next step in their journey? After the epic Season 3 finale, we had a chance to speak with Grant to learn about their endeavors. Even though we are oceans apart, we could sense his strength of heart and enthusiasm for the future of Paca. Here is what we learned during our interview with him:
Sass3: How would you describe each member of Paca?
Grant: “We are all individuals, but all part of the group. As well as working together, we each have individual projects.
Barry and Andy have both heart and soul. Both of these lovely principled guys wear their opinions and passions openly, sometimes to their detriment! Andy has also set up his own tour company, Highlander Tours, where fans visit from around the world exploring filming locations dotted all over our magnificent Scottish countryside.
Jay can be a gruffalo if you catch him at the wrong time of day, but dig deeper, and he is actually a big friendly giant who couldn’t harm a fly.
Jon is a powerhouse runner of Ironmans who gives freely of his time to the many worthy causes he is passionate about. Jay and Jon also do meet and greet dinner events where they mesmerize their audiences with Glasgow banter and Stevenston sensibility.
As for me, you’d have to ask them … (hehe).”
Sass3: What drew you to audition to the series of Outlander?
Grant: “I acted while at school. When I left, I dropped the idea as being ‘unrealistic.’ I liked the idea, but never really fully considered it, since it was so out of my realm of experience.
I knew very little about Outlander before I joined the show. I was just looking for a diversion from writing my book and saw extra‘s work as a way to get out of the house to have a little fun. Outlander was just another job at the time, but it was only once I was on the show that I realized the massive following it had.”
Sass3: What have been some of the roles you have portrayed as a supporting actor on the series?
Grant: “I mostly played extras roles. Although, I have been a stand in for Tobias on a few occasions and a double for Sam while crew were setting up a bedroom scene. I have been a part of this series since Season 1. I also played a Highland Clansmen, alongside my other compadres, being trained for Prestonpans and Culloden in Season 2. In Season 3, I played the other side – a Redcoat! I mostly comfort myself with the thought that I was an undercover Jacobite spy! I also played a local townsman and fireman in Edinburgh.”
Sass3: Do you have a favorite moment on set?
Grant: “Very soon after beginning work on Outlander, I began going to acting lessons in Glasgow and have been going for the last 2 years. With that in mind, it has been fascinating to learn about the set etiquette on these massive productions. If you are lucky, you get a chance to see up close some of the principals at work during rehearsal – as I did when I was a stand in for Tobias in some parts of Season 3. It was a memorable experience to attempt to mimic them while lights and cameras were being set up. Badly in my case!”
Sass3: Reenacting significant battle scenes in all weather elements must have been difficult, physically and emotionally. Can you tell us how the filming of the Battle of Culloden or Prestonpans affected you?
Grant: “During filming, it felt like production had sent a weather request ‘upstairs’ and lo and behold, it was delivered! The weather played a significant impact. It was important to keep our spirits up during the downtime when it was freezing. So, as usual, there was a lot of talking nonsense to keep our minds and spirits lighthearted. When the gas was switched off on the fires between takes, it wouldn’t be unusual for extras to throw real wood back onto whatever flames were still remaining. The prop guys were rather upset with us burning their wood, but we had to keep warm somehow (haha)!
The actual battle scenes were a mix of emotions. Somber beforehand, concentration at doing what you needed to do and making sure everyone was safe while doing it, a frenzy of activity during the battle, and then a rush of euphoria after the cut. So after eight hours of this, we were exhausted. I think everyone was mindful of the actual events and wanted to do justice to what was a final moment for a lot of the men that day, Jacobite and Redcoat alike.
It was a mammoth task to marshall 150 extras with a variety of weapons, while also doing the moment justice. It will be a memory that will always remain with us.”
Paca’s support for protecting Scottish heritage sites continues to be a strong component of their identity. Most recently, they were active participants to campaign against the building of a proposed 16-home housing development within steps of the Culloden battlefield. Their combined presence with other supporters and the more than 72,000 signatures collected world wide have brought global attention to this important issue. In January a decision was made to defer the housing plans – ‘a battle won, but a war not yet over.’ More help will certainly be needed in the near future to help aid this worthy cause. We know Paca will be at the forefront of this fight as an active voice to help safeguard this important piece of Jacobite history. The Outlander community will certainly be there in spirit supporting them every step of the way.
Sass3: We must admit that we were elated to hear about your screenplay. Without giving too much away, would you be able to tell us a little more about it?
Grant: “At the end of Season 2, we made some small gifts for the departments that worked with us – crowd, costume, and makeup – as a thank you for tolerating us! It was while thinking about what we could give them as a group (we had all done about 35 days of filming over the four or five months of shooting and this was quite unusual as most people do much less due to other commitments/ jobs etc.), that the idea came to me about the five generic highlanders we had been. Why were they on the battlefield and what had become of them after this devastating battle? I felt their story needed to be told, and that led to my current endeavor of creating a screenplay to portray the experience of retribution and loss that immediately followed Culloden.
Each experience I had while being part of the set of Outlander inspired me to find out more about that turbulent period of Scottish history, but it was meeting the guys that inspired me to write a story about five highlanders. Each individual but ultimately each there for each other. Even if they would occasionally jest and take chunks out of each other along the way.
Most importantly, I want to tell a story of friendship and, above all else, hope. In spite of the men’s flaws, I hope to portray how their commitment to each other carries them through the increasingly tough and desperate times they find themselves in. This story will be about battling those internal flaws found within themselves and endeavouring to always be the best they can be in spite of what surrounds them.”
Sass3: Can you tell us a little bit about the process of your research when writing a story based upon this turbulent time period?
Grant: “I use the internet for general reading, then specialty books that have been bought or borrowed from libraries. Then when I am digging down to specific details in the historical record, I might visit the very friendly people at the National Library of Scotland. They have some amazing resources there. I have found inspiration and direction from other books, references, or articles I have read in the papers. I’ll read an unrelated interesting article and find in the last paragraph something that is relevant to the subject. Serendipity!
There have been great moments of revelation for me when I suddenly worked out the details of a particular character or what led them to be the way they were. I would literally gasp (not too big a one as I didn’t want to scare the other customers in the coffee shop) and then marvel at how that part of the puzzle had been revealed to me. I think my favorite moment is when I found out how the group came to be called The Pack initially before morphing into Paca. I hadn’t known before I was writing that scene, and it was only revealed to me at that exact moment.”
Sass3: What activities do you draw from that help build the framework for the characters you are developing?
Grant: “I am doing historical fencing at the moment, learning ‘backsword’ from Paul Macdonald of Macdonald Academy of Arms – as such the swords are fantastic. Paul is a swordsmith as well and frequently brings into class some amazing swords he is restoring or working on. I will be going back to spend some time looking at those, definitely.”
We at Timeless Sass3nach Journeys have great admiration for historically inspired weaponry. The training and skill to masterfully use these forms of weapons can be more greatly appreciated when you can feel the physiological components that make up each design, as weight and balance come into play. We must admit we have our own collection, inherited from a family member who loved history – our shared connection to the past. We anxiously look forward to seeing Grant’s expanded knowledge in this vanishing art form!
Sass3: We believe in powerful stories and look forward to hearing about the progress developing your screenplay. How can fans follow your journey and help support your endeavors?
Grant: “It is a great privilege to have so many people interested in what we are trying to do. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love for people that are interested in what we are doing to like and share us as much as they can. An online presence is vital to projects such as these, and the more interest we can show the financiers and funding, the more convinced they will be in this being a viable project. Keep following our space for updates!”
A calendar campaign for 2018 is also being conducted to help support their future goals, while also celebrating their shared successes. Here is a description from their calendar:
“This project was created to honor how far we had all come on this journey together. We thought that these captured images might be part of a calendar that friends, family, and fans might enjoy. We traveled around Scotland with our friend and photographer Lilly Hurd for 2 days; one dreich, while the other glorious. This calendar is the product of that adventurous spirit. To discover more about what we created and ways to purchase your own copy, please visit our Facebook page.”
Thank You For Sharing Your Story With Us
We can not thank Grant enough for taking the time between filming and writing his screenplay to share Paca’s story with us. It is an honor to learn about their future ventures and how we can continue to follow the vibrant path that Paca paves for themselves. They have brought us energy, laughter, and a positive outlook that extends beyond Outlander. More importantly, they have become a patron for history and heritage to share the Jacobite story – so it may never be forgotten.
We are excited to continue following Paca’s journey as they welcome two additional clan members, Paul and Arno. It has been enjoyable to watch them bring attention to tangible pieces of Scottish history, where the attire they adorn tells its own story as they bring light to priceless heritage sites. However, it is their mastery in the art of storytelling that will continue to transcend boundaries. Paca, The Clan, brings the voices of the past to life and encourages others across the globe to discover the formidable spirit found within Scotland’s colorful past. We look forward to all the successes we know their future undoubtedly holds.
References as of 2/4/18:
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