From Barra With Love


There’s Sabine Hellmann, our hilariously sweet but incredibly able sound recordist perched majestically on a rocky outcrop, arm outstretched holding the boom like a Roman standard bearer. All the while listening with the ears of a hawk for any alien noise that may tarnish the scene playing out below her….. As Zach and I constantly agreed, it was the best crew EVER.


Shooting in such a remote area may put people off, despite the beauty on show in these pictures it was no picnic. Left behind on the mainland were such luxuries as central heating and a regular supply of hot water, and at the end of the fortnight there weren’t many people on set not in need of a serious hose down, but I direct your attention back to the pictures (I have to stress that these examples were taken on my phone) and the light. That beautiful, perfectly diffused HMI in the sky is reason enough for setting up a film in an area such as Barra. It made my job as Assistant Director very easy as we rarely had to place a light… A reflector and a flag here and there were all that was required to spill gorgeous, natural illumination onto the actor’s faces which saved us bags of time. And of course, this is the very location that Alexander MacKendrick chose to film the world famous 1949 Scottish picture WHISKY GALORE, the local RBS bank has a blue plaque tacked to it in his honour. We also took great delight in looking awestruck at some whiskey bottles recovered from the actual ship the film was based on in the local Hotel. It was like being in a very small Hard Rock Cafe for movie buffs.


All in all the shoot went incredibly well. It wasn’t without incident (what film shoot is??) but solutions were found for every problem we came across. There are a couple of scenes to shoot in the New Year then the work of stitching the picture together will commence. One of the downsides of shooting on 16mm is the lack of instant gratification but I suppose this also adds to the excitement. Ian Marrs, our camera assistant and HD disciple would say this is one of the biggest pro’s of working on digital, you see what you shoot as soon as you’ve shot it. There can be no greater satisfaction however, than getting your processed rushes handed to you and them looking like film. Real, organic, honest celluloid. Christmas can go hang, I’m looking forward to January!

Special mention should go to our actors Gillchrist, Emily and Paul (Surnames to follow, sorry) who were enthusiastically signed on to making the picture work and really embraced their characters, it was a joy to see them work.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. I think another couple of half hour showers should see me back to normal. I’ll leave you with a gratuitous sunset shot. Again, captured on my phone.



One response to “From Barra With Love

  1. Man, Stuart!
    I never googled myself but what a pleasant surprise to be found on your blog so humbly described! I so so so enjoy the memories of Barra splashing over my thoughts on a lousy cold Sunday in Edinburgh, long time after our Island adventure!
    I send a massive hug, lots of giggles and hope I see you these days man! We shall have a pint sometime, with Sara and else!
    Take best care and check out my brand new website… weeeee

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