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Johnstone Macpherson-Stewart: from Forres to Trainspotting Parkour

Aged just 20, Johnstone Macpherson-Stewart from Forres in Moray has become the director of a viral video that has been watched over 800,000 times.

The video pays homage to the iconic opening scene from the original Trainspotting film through the art of parkour, mimicking Ewan McGregor’s character, Renton, when he is chased down the streets of Edinburgh.

In the sport, athletes move through their environment as efficiently as possible, using vaults, flips and jumps to get over walls, and as the video shows, even post boxes. Anything can be used to manoeuvre, it is creativity that counts.

The power and skill involved in the movements takes practice, it is not simply jumping about.  Johnstone trains three to four times a week and uses the gym to condition the parts of his body he needs most.

It was the dad of Johnstone’s training partner and star of the video, 16-year-old Robbie Griffith, who came up with the idea, and the pair went out to shoot it the next day. After two weeks of editing, the video was put on Facebook and since then the pair have been on BBC Reporting Scotland, BBC 2’s Timeline and STV’s Live at 5.

Initially shared by Visit Scotland, the video was propelled onto the international stage when energy drink giants Red Bull put it on their website. The company are prominent sponsors of anything stunt-related and have already picked up on another Scottish talent, Danny MacAskill.

The bike rider from Skye also started off filming stunts in Edinburgh and now has videos with over 64 million views.  He was so impressed by Johnstone’s piece that he got in touch with the young director.

“I put it on Facebook and he got back to me and said that he’d keep me in mind for any future projects he was doing, which is an awesome opportunity for me”.

The video aims to promote a positive image of parkour, an activity that for many years was cast on the fringe, but has recently been recognised as a sport by the UK’s sport councils.

As a sport it fosters imagination in the people that do it, something that Johnstone believes motivated him to develop. He said: “I always loved sport, but this sort of immediately appealed to me because there wasn’t any set rules or regulations it is more about being creative with yourself and the environment around you.

“Since then I’ve been addicted to it.”

He took up the sport in Forres after being inspired by his friend showing him videos online. However, since moving to Glasgow to study film and television at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the bigger playground has only increased his motivation, whilst his course has given him the know-how to create something special.

“I think it’s helped me in terms of being able to tell a story. There was a clear message behind this video which I think if I hadn’t done this course that part of me would have been lacking. That forms the base of this video and is why it connects with people”.            

He has made videos before but this has beaten all expectations: “We only thought it would be a simple thing, we didn’t know how big it was going to go, we thought it might get 50,000 views which we would have been super happy with, but it’s got almost 750,000 which is ridiculous”.

The excitement has also been felt at his parents’ home in Forres. “My dad’s been constantly on Facebook seeing how much it’s growing, even though he doesn’t even have it. My mum and dad have been on the phone to me like oh my god they shared this they shared that”.

Already looking to build on this success he has big plans for the future, not just promoting Scotland, but continuing with what is looking likely to be a highly rewarding career.

Check out the full video by clicking here!

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user Josa Júnior.