Ainsley Conall, the thirty-five-year-old lord of the manor, stood on the grassy moor surveying his property. He watched the mist spread to the nearby golden cliff, emerald mountains, and white-capped turquoise sea. His tunic, kilt, hose, and shoulder cloak matched the tall, strapping man’s long auburn hair and striking emerald eyes. The leather sporran hanging from a chain over the impressive lump at his groin proudly bore the Conall family crest—three lions. As he rested his size-ten leather brogue on a rock, Ainsley proudly gazed out at the ancient lighthouse, old abbey, and most importantly Conall Castle standing majestically in the distance. This was his heritage, his pride, and his joy.
An eastern wind blew the kilt up his back, exposing his melon-like bubble butt.
“Cut! We’ll save that for the blooper reel.”
I always wanted to say that. But I didn’t think I’d be uttering those words on a mountaintop at the northernmost tip of Scotland. I’m Nicky Abbondanza, Associate Professor of Play Directing at Treemeadow College, a private college plagued by murder in scenic Vermont. How did I get to Scotland, the land of men in kilts? After directing a play at Treemeadow College that moved to Broadway, I helmed a slasher film, which to nobody’s surprise was ignored by the Academy Award voters. However, Barclay Conell, the owner of Conell Castle and Hotel in Scotland, caught it while scrolling through one-star instant-play movies on his computer. It wasn’t so much that Barclay was impressed with my artistry. The film’s low budget and one-week production schedule caught the green in his eyes. You see Barclay was also the author of The Lord of the Castle, a five-hundred-and-thirty-eight-page novel that could turn an insomniac into Rip Van Winkle. Propelled by his novel’s high local sales, Barclay decided a film adaptation was in order—even when a local fisherman confessed he had bought up all the novels as gifts for unsuspecting fishermen in hopes of sinking the competition’s ships. When Barclay’s emails to Z-list celebrities went unanswered, undaunted in his cinematic pursuit, Barclay decided to star in the film version himself—playing his 1745 ancestor, Ainsley Conall. His wife, Moira (an unemployed actress currently working as his desk clerk), finally got an acting gig as Ainsley’s devoted wife. For reality sake, and to keep peace in the family, Barclay’s middle brother, Magnus (the hotel’s accountant), was cast as Ainsley’s middle brother and pal, Archibald. Finally, Barclay’s youngest brother, Fergus (the hotel’s restaurant manager), didn’t have much of a stretch to play Ainsley’s youngest brother and little buddy, Angus. And to keep the budget anemic, Lairie Naughton, the fourteen-year-old daughter of the hotel’s head of Housekeeping, was slated for the role of the devoted young maid, Aggie.
Barclay took no reservations at the hotel for a week in June and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: a four-figure salary, a film budget as thin as a vegan with a malfunctioning juicer, and a one-week shooting schedule. How could I say no? So, I continued the casting by adding my ten-year-old adopted son from Hawaii, Taavi, as Ainsley’s adored son, Roddy. Before a divorce was threatened, I hired my husband of four years, Assistant Professor of Acting at Treemeadow College, Noah Oliver, to play Roddy’s noble tutor, Oliver, and to serve as the film’s acting coach. I decided to cast the smaller roles once we got to the castle.
There was the small, or not so small, matter of the film adaptation. Barclay’s attempt was as ponderous and heavy (pun intended) as his novel. So, my best friend and department head, Professor of Theatre Management Martin Anderson, wrote the screenplay, or as Ruben Markinson, Martin’s husband and our producer, said, “the foul-play.” With the excitement of a conservative politician nixing environmental laws, Martin went to work loading the script with scandal, seduction, and assassination. Try saying that three times fast. His new title: When the Wind Blows Up Your Kilt, You Need a Scotch.