You see it for a few seconds on episode seven on Strike Back, but the hand made Ghillie suit took the Military Technical Adviser of the show two weeks to complete during filming the second block and while on recces for the third block of the series.
Was it worth it for just a few seconds in frame when production could have simply bought one off the shelf? A big fat yes!
Strike Back ep 7 season 8
First some History
Gille is a Scots Gaelic word for a young man or older boy who works as an outdoor servant. “Ghillie” is a mis-spelling. The term “ghillie suit” may be a reference to Gille Dubh the “Dark Lad” or “Black Lad”, a Earth spirit who is clothed in leaves and moss in Scottish mythology.
The Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Highland regiment formed by Simon Fraser, 14th Lord Lovat during the Second Boer War, is the first known military unit to use ghillie suits and in 1916 went on to become the British Army’s first sniper unit. The Lovat Scouts were initially recruited from Scottish Highland estate workers, especially professional stalkers and gamekeepers.
Similar sniper outfits in the Australian Army are nicknamed “yowie suit”, named for their resemblance to the Yowie, a mythical hominid similar to the Yeti and Bigfoot which is said to live in the Australian wilderness.
- Cut a large (~2’x5′) rectangle out of a burlap sack. Make a cut along the upper or lower seam so that the burlap material is ready to be loosened. Sit down, anchor the sides of the burlap with your two heels, and start pulling out the burlap fibers that are running horizontal to you.
- Pull out enough horizontal fabric until the remaining vertical fabric is roughly the same length as the horizontal fabric you’ve already pulled out.
- When it is, take a scissor and cut the fibers off from the sack.
- Place these along with the rest of the fibers you’ve shorn from the sack.
- Shoot to get your burlap strands about 7″ to 14″ in length.
- This is tbe most time consuming part of the job.
Dye the burlap the color of your surroundings. Identify greens, browns, even greys in the environment in which you’ll be using the ghillie suit and match them with specific dye colors. Follow the instructions on the dye packets for staining the jute strands.
Once the jute strands are dyed, run them through cold water until the water starts coming out clear. Set the strands out to dry in the sun.
Grab about 10 or so strands of jute, clump them together, and then tie them to the mesh netting using a simple overhand knot. Remember to choose 3 or 4 colors that are prevalent in the environment you’ll be using your ghillie suit in.
Bald spots are where there’s insufficient coverage, making the suit look less realistic. Pick your ghillie suit up, lightly wave it in the air, and set it back down again. Add necessary clumps of jute to any bald spots. Particularly the arms
I then moved on to the rifle
The two weeks graft was worth it and i think Dan Macpherson thought so too. After wrap I asked costume if I could keep the suit and they kindly agreed.
You might just see it again very soon in a feature😉