ANNETTE GILLIES DESIGNER
THEATRE - TELEVISION - FILM - OPERA - COMMERCIALS - LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
Following early success at 15, winning a gold medal and the J.D MacGregor Award in the Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum painting competition for Greater Glasgow Schools, Annette went on to graduate in Drawing and Painting from Glasgow School of Art where she trained under Scottish painters Duncan Shanks, George Devlin and David Donaldson.
Very soon after graduating, drawn by the collaborative processes of drama, Annette transitioned from painting to design for theatre, film and television. Between freelance design commissions, she taught theatre design options in Glasgow’s C.R.Mackintosh School of Architecture where she studied Computer Aided Design as a post grad. Early work in Glasgow’s Educational Television Service won her two Royal Television Society Awards for design.
Annette’s early theatre designs included over 60 touring music-theatre productions for Wildcat Stage Productions and for John McGrath’s 7:84 Scotland.
Also for Wildcat and Freeway Films, she co-designed, with Pamela Howard, two Glasgow Tramway site-specific productions by John McGrath, Border Warfare and John Brown’s Body, for which Annette and Pamela shared the European Troika Scenography Award. http://www.pamelahoward.co.uk/brief-biography.html
On Wildcat’s demise, Annette collaborated with the company’s founder, writer and producer, David Maclennan https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/jun/15/david-maclennan to initiate the first series of “a Play, a Pie and a Pint” for Oran Mor Lunchtime Theatre in Glasgow. She went on to design set and costumes for the first 3 seasons… 36 new weekly plays in total. Fifteen years later, she is regularly invited back to design their West End Festival Music Theatre productions by their current artistic Director, Morag Fullarton, formerly founder of Borderline Theatre. The theatre companies Annette has chosen to work with have at their heart an ambition to create radical theatre, with the highest musical and visual ambitions, and productions that are politically and socially relevant to Scottish audiences.
Annette’s many freelance design commissions for television include the first three 8 part series of each of Monarch of the Glen, Two Thousand Acres of Sky and 55 Degrees North. Iain Banks’ The Crow Road for BBC 2 was a Bafta Scotland winner. For Scottish Television, several series of True Crime Stories included The Britoil Affair, The John Stonehouse Story and The Yugoslav Hitman. The Stalker’s Apprentice, No Holds Bard (sic), Easter Tales from the Madhouse (Bafta winner) and eighteen three part series of Taggart were interspersed with film and theatre design and many high profile broadcast light entertainment and comedy productions and cinema commercials, two of which won advertising awards. Designs for film include Tickets for the Zoo, Heavenly Pursuits, Latin for a Dark Room, (Bafta short winner), Gadgetman, Hear the Silence, Senseless and Play me Something, written and starring John Berger.
Annette’s role as Production Designer and HOD on film and high profile broadcast TV series involved many associated skills and responsibilities beyond her initial skillset as painter, including location survey drawings, 3D construction CAD drawings and visualisations, action and stunt sequence storyboarding, design team management and scheduling (20 week location shoots), liaison with her team of construction managers, prop-makers, graphic designers, scenic artists, visual effects artists, set dressers, stand by designers and props crew, liaison with stunt coordinators, special effects and pyrotechnics personnel, action vehicles wranglers and animal wranglers. All of these services fall within the production designer’s total design concept and budget responsibility. Annette’s repeated re-engagement by the drama departments of BBCs 1,2 and Alba, Channel 4, Ecosse Films, Scottish Television, Hallmark and many independent production companies testifies to their continued satisfaction with her Production Management skills and budgetary diligence as well as her design skills, being repeatedly entrusted with six figure design budgets. The same holds for her long relationships with theatre companies where budgets are often tiny.
Commercials & Light Entertainment
Annette interspersed her work in film and TV drama with many high profile TV Light Entertainment and Comedy shows and commercials for cinema and TV. Three commercials designed by Annette won Advertising awards and Walking Man for Johnnie Walker Whisky was an award winner and viral hit.
Later Opera designs include La Prigione di Edimburgo, Carmen, Don Giovanni and La Traviata for Edinburgh Grand Opera, with Christina Dunwoodie as Artistic Director and Opera Director. Annette and Christina recognized that they had a collaborative way of working that inspired them to form their own company, Primavoce. Primavoce productions include Torch Song Divas, Love Hurts, Tosca: The Henchman’s Tale and Love, Death and Destiny.
Annette’s first opportunity to design for opera arose from her working relationship as designer of the television detective series Taggart with its executive producer, Robert Love. As guest Director of Tosca for Christina Dunwoodie’s company Opera on a Shoestring, Robert Love invited Annette to design Tosca with Christina in the role of Floria Tosca. The production at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre won popular and critical acclaim and went on to win The Spirit of Mayfest Award.
As well as design for productions within the UK, Annette has worked on location in Spain, Canada, Hollywood, Paris and Ireland with a good working knowledge of French and basic Spanish.