A conversation with Extra Scottish creator Calum Blackstock
By Anthony T. Eaton
One of the most significant outcomes of the technology we have today is connecting with people we would otherwise never can or could. This has never been more true when we have been forced to keep our distance from one another. A short time ago, I stumbled across Calum Blackstock as he was launching a new movie review project on YouTube called Extra Scottish. Of course, the name alone intrigued me but then when I learned more, I was interested in how this guy from Scotland who now lives in the state of Virginia went from there to hear and from acting to being a film critic. So, as I always do, I reached out to see if he would be interested in doing an interview. Thankfully there was no Kilt required.
I ask Calum about how a guy from Scotland ends up living in the State of Virginia, and he tells me how he was born in Scotland but at age 14 moved to Denmark. Around age 19, when he decided he wanted to be an actor and moved to San Francisco to attend the Academy of Art, where he studied film. While there, his roommate gets a show on Nickelodeon, which leads to acting opportunities for him. During this period, he also met his wife and auditioned to go to film school in New York. Although he was accepted and got a scholarship, he still did not have enough money and wound up back in Europe. His now wife and he did the long-distance thing until he eventually moved to the States and Virginia, where her family is, and he has been here for 13 years.
As an actor, Calum has done a lot of extra work, most notably House of Cards and Veep , but Virginia is hardly a film mecca. He has also used his creativity in other ways, like marketing the photography business he and his art teacher wife started.
As we talk, Calum shares with me his role playing Finnish finance minister on Veep and how ironic it was since he is terrible at math. Originally a speaking part, it was cut back to his just nodding his head awkwardly some 30 times. Calum also tells me about meeting Tony Hale and what a great guy he is, and how his buddy from college helped him connect to the show’s casting.
Like so many other people, when COVID hit, Calum had to pivot because someone had to be home with the kids, and he shares that he could not just sit around. Having the entrepreneurial spirit and knowing actors and the business, the idea of starting a movie review vlog made sense, and thus Extra Scottish was born.
Extra Scottish brings a fresh approach to the movie review, bringing a movie fan’s viewpoint rather than a critic. There is nothing stuffy about Extra Scottish , and in fact, it is more like having your friend tell you about a movie from their perspective. Along with this, his commentary is upbeat and even humorous, with Calum sharing his impressions of well-known actors as we see in the episode SEAN CONNERY TOP 5. Of course, considering he already has the accent down, it is not hard to envision Sean Connery speaking to you.
I enjoy the personal approach of Calum’s reviews. As we talk about Extra Scottish, he shares that he didn’t want to be another reviewer but rather provide something entertaining to the viewer. Having kids, he also wanted it to be family-friendly and not a review site that trashes movies, actors, or relies on profanity’s shock value to make a point.
It was also nice to see this Scottish actor do a review of the recent movie Palmer, the story of a recently released from prison former football player (Justin Timberlake) who ends up taking care of the flamboyant young boy Sam (Ryder Allen). Calum and I discuss other films he has not had a chance to review like SMOTHERED and SUPERNOVA. Extra Scottish certainly has something for everyone.
So far, Calum has posted more than 40 reviews on his channel, everything from The Trial of The Chicago Seven to Happy Feet 2. With award season upon us, Calum is reviewing films that have been nominated since being a SAG member. He gets access to movies being voted on. Of course, with the plethora of streaming services available, there is no lack of films, both old and new, that can be reviewed. One of the more recent films he reviewed was the Danish movie Another Round because it was getting award buzz.
While it would seem that doing a movie review would be quick and easy, Calum tells me about the challenges of time constraints and the technical issues like his computer recently dying. All the editing and cuts take up time before he gets a piece he can share; people he says do not know all the work that goes into it. Anyone can post something, just put it out there, but it takes effort to try and put out something good.
When it comes to excellent and memorable performances, there is so much to choose from, and we discuss some of the classic films that still hold up, like Casino and The Godfather. Of course, there are those that were considered extraordinary when they came out but have not held up as well as Scarface.
Before we end our interview, Calum and I talk more about the current crop of films up for awards, including the Anthony Hopkins film The Father and how there is nobody like Anthony Hopkins, and he is going to be hard to beat. But there is good competition if you consider Chadwick Boseman’s performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Blues. Of course, the Best Actress has excellent talent, including Viola Davis and Andra Day who absolutely give Oscar-worthy performances as Ma Rainey and Billie Holiday. It is also worth noting that both actresses recreate real women who were not only great talents but also known to be bi-sexual which is represented in both films. who give great performances.
If you have yet to hear about Extra Scottish or watch one of Calums reviews you absolutely have to. Not only will you get a great review but you will probably get a laugh, learn some Scottish and there is no kilt required.
YouTube Channel – www.youtube.com/channel/UCm95zXDnAq-5HOWnHL8lwbQ
Follow him on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/ExtraScottish