Channel 4’s new six-part drama, Screw, is set inside a prison.
It focuses on a group of prison officers (nicknamed Screws – hence the title) as they try and navigate a job that’s somewhere between guard and social worker. Screw stars Nina Sosanya as Leigh Henry, a long-time prison officer who’s become increasingly disillusioned with the system, and Jamie-Lee O’Donnell as Rose Gill, a new probationary officer who takes a very different perspective to her more experienced peers.
For obvious reasons, most of the drama takes place inside a prison – the C Wing of the fictional Long Marsh men’s prison, which houses around a thousand prisoners.
Interestingly, Screw wasn’t filmed inside a real prison, but instead the production built a brand new three-storey prison set specially.
Where did they build the prison from Screw?
The prison set used to film Screw was built inside Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall.
In early 2021, Glasgow City Council confirmed plans to invest £11.9m in a TV & Film studio at Kelvin Hall. Screw is one of the first dramas to avail of that studio space.
How long did it take to build the prison in Screw?
It took around three months to build the three-storey prison set in Screw, production designer Dave Arrowsmith recently explained to The Scottish Herald.
"We put a concrete floor down over Christmas 2020 and then started the scaffolding and construction metalwork at the end of January/beginning of February 2021," said Arrowsmith.
"We began filming three months later – it was around a 12 or 14-week build. There was between 50 and 60 people involved at some points. It was frenetic."
Did they film any scenes anywhere else?
Yes – a number of scenes were also filmed at the Peterhead Prison Museum, in particular the outside/exterior shots.
What did the cast and crew say about filming Screw?
Creator Rob Williams said that it was a particularly intense place to film. Speaking to Channel 4, he explained “Midway through the shoot, we did some exterior shots in a different part of Scotland and I’m so glad we did because people were feeling very, very oppressed by that set.”
“Even though Kelvin Hall, where we built the set, is a huge space, you could tell people were feeling as though the walls were closing in a bit, so people were very pleased to be stepping outside.”
Star Nina Sosanya emphasised the size and scale of the replica prison, noting that “once you step through the gates, you’re actually in this sort of living, breathing, breathing prison with 100 or so cells, most of which can open and lock. There are offices and pool tables, classrooms and medical stores.”
“You’d be forgiven for thinking that the series is going to look claustrophobic or samey, but it’s exactly the opposite because these three levels allow the camera to sweep from one place to another. Rob would write these huge scenes and we’d be going, why is this not five or six scenes? But you can go from level one to level three, into a cell and out to the office, all in one. It makes it really dynamic.”
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