Waiting for better weather


He’s still recovering from a fractured hip but James Robert is looking forward to the better weather and to going to Clavel again.

I asked if he’d heard that a sniper had shot a young woman there (Clavel was the scene of the shooting in the recent and most excellent six-part BBC series Shetland) and he said, “Yes, yes, I got paid for that. They can come again.”




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Clavel and two Jenny Gilbertson films at Inverness Film Festival

At 2pm on Sunday 8th November, Clavel is being screened at Inverness Film Festival alongside the first and last of Jenny Gilbertson’s films: A Crofter’s Life in Shetland (1932) and Jenny’s Arctic Diary (1978).

Originally from Glasgow before moving to Shetland, Jenny Gilbertson was a pioneer documentary filmmaker whose main body of work comes from the 1930s, when she made a series of films for Grierson’s GPO Film Unit about Shetland crofters, and the 1970s, when she filmed the Inuit of the Arctic Canada for the BBC and CBC.

Her career spanned the move from silent to sound and then into television, but her idea of filming was the same: live amongst your subjects and let them be who they are, doing what they do. This allows her films to have a gentle pace and understated intimacy.

Gilbertson’s films and her (quietly) radical approach, particularly in the 1930s, has not yet been fully explored, nor has her significant contribution to documentary filmmaking. This has spurred me to write a book about her life and work and to film along the way.

Thank you to Inverness Film Festival for recognising that we have so much to learn from Jenny Gilbertson and for showing her films alongside Clavel, the film that drew so much inspiration from her approach and spirit.

Tickets can be gotten here.

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Shetland comes to Dundee Literary Festival 2015

At Dundee Literary Festival this year there’ll be two Shetland-inspired events.

At 10.30am on Saturday 23rd at the D’Arcy Thompson Museum, Malachy Tallack will speak about his book 60 Degrees North. Hang around afterwards to take look at the museum’s Gyr Falcon: it’s a beauty. Book here.

And at 5.30pm on Sunday 25th they’re showing Clavel at the Bonar Hall. Book here. The after-festival party follows and I believe their will be Lerwick Brewery Beer to sup.

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Clavel at the Hebridean International Film Festival

You can see Clavel at the Hebridean International Film Festival 2015.

It’s being screened at An Lanntair in Stronoway along with The Laxá Farmers, the stirring story of farmers in Iceland who had to resort to desperate measures to save their land from a dam.

You can buy tickets here.

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Where does all the oo go?

Here’s a great little blog by Jamieson & Smith, the Shetland wool brokers, explaining where the fleeces and hentilagets from Clavel and all the crofts in Shetland end up and what happens to it.

2015 so far has been a good year for oo, by the sounds of it.

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Clavel at Sumburgh Head

Clavel will be screened twice tomorrow, Wednesday 27th, at Sumburgh Head. The first screening is at 2pm the other at 6pm (we’ll start a little bit after to let those coming from Lerwick get here).

Afterwards there will be a short talk about the making of Clavel and the research I am doing for a biography of the Shetland Filmmaker Jenny Gilbertson.

During my month at the lighthouse I’ve been able to make great progress on the book and have been filming as I go along: first, Jenny’s daughters, Helen and Ann, and then the Hillswick area of Northmavine in Shetland, where Jenny filmed her first films and where she met and lived with her husband, Johnny Gilbertson.

I am very grateful to Shetland Amenity Trust and their artist in residence programme at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse for supporting me with this work.

Note: DVDs of Clavel and a limited edition print of a still from Clavel will be on sale at the Lighthouse screening and at the Sumburgh Head Visitor Centre shop.

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Clavel to star in murderous episode of BBC’s ‘Shetland’

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 13.58.40A curlew told me that crew from the BBC’s popular detective series, ‘Shetland’, have done a recce on Clavel and will film there at the end of the month.

Whether James Robert is to be given a cameo is not yet known.

Clavel, “a lighter… different place altogether.”

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