September 21, 2020

WOFFF Film Talk Virginia Heath 4 June 2020

Hello I'm Virginia Heath and I'm thedirector of FROM SCOTLAND WITH LOVE.

And first of all, thanks very much forscreening the film and asking me to chat a little bit about it.

FROM SCOTLAND WITH LOVE was commissioned in 2014 at a really important time for Scotland.

We had the Commonwealth Games and it was also of course the Indie Ref, yeah? So it was a time when everyone was really thinking about what it means to be Scottish and I felt really honoured to be asked to direct the film at that point.

And we decided that we would make an archive film which had no narration and was just carried by the visual strength of the images in in conjunction with music.

And of course this meant that I needed to find the absolute right composer to collaborate with, who would complement the music because obviously we needed to carry the story of Scotland in the 20th century just through music and visuals.

I was really lucky to persuade King Creosote to come on board because I really admired the way in which he told stories in his songs – not obvious stories but some of the bleak stories.

And I felt like he would have the right kind of approach to complementing the visuals – not actually describing what you see on the screen but doing something that was kind of oblique to what we see.

And it worked perfectly I think.

I'm really thrilled with the way the music turned out.

It kind of works with the images hand-in-glove.

So in trying to decide how to approach the film I decided I'd take a thematic approach rather than a sort of geographical approach or a chronological approach cos I thought it would be nice to be have the freedom to just think about the big themes of 20th century Scotland.

So I had an overall theme of love and loss and then within that we had the big themes of industry, work and play, immigration, the war.

And in all those themes I really tried to bring out marginalised voices.

I really looked for material that would show women – working and playing – and really emphasised their important contribution to Scotland in the 20th century.

We also looked for any material of ethnic minority communities which was actually quite hard to find unfortunately, and shows there's a big job to be done to find that kind of material.

I think that our overall ambition was that we would make a film that would be very much about ordinary people's lives.

So there's no celebrities, there's no kings, queens, politicians.

It really is the experience of ordinary people going about their lives.

I think that's why it's connected with people in such a profound way because I think they see themselves reflected on-screen and there's a kind of celebration of, of the ordinary fabric of life which perhaps you don't see so much about in historical documentaries.

I'm from New Zealand so I'm not Scottish and so it was a big ask to take on [laughs] making a film about Scotland that was so quintessential at that time.

But my grandmother's Scottish and I grew up in a very Scottish environment in New Zealand so I was no stranger to stories about immigration and land-life back in the, in the “homeland” if you like.

So I feel like I have a real connection there but also I was working with a whole team of brilliant Scottish artists of very various kinds.

King creosote himself, of course, but also David McAuley who was the Music Supervisor and Sound Designer, Colin Monie – who is one of Scotland's top editors, if not the top editor, and his brilliant knowledge of Scottish history and he always set me right if I was putting an image in the wrong, wrong place he'd kind.

of, he was, was a great guide on that front.

And huge support on the music front from Chemical Underground Studios.

I had plenty of people around me to, em, to support my vision of Scotland in the 20th century.

Right now in COVID- 19 I'm working on a new project using archive but also specially shot material about a wonderfully inspirational woman and that sort of continues my commitment to telling the stories of women on screen.

That'll be coming up probably next year and I'm very excited about it.

So thanks again and enjoy the film!.

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