The film Between Weathers has made another step towards the big screen after the producers were handed a grant by the council towards a final script which will be taken to the Cannes Film Festival in May in the hope of interesting actors and securing a distributor.
The SIC’s economic development unit has given B4 Films Ltd £22,669 as it continues to develop the movie, which is to be shot entirely in Shetland from September.
Producer Jim Brown was in Shetland this week and said it was “fantastic” to hear the council would be helping to fund the project. “They’ve been incredibly supportive to me in lots of ways but now to be supportive financially, they really want it to happen,” he said.
Since he was last in Shetland, Mr Brown has been busy securing funding, screen testing and casting actors and getting writers on board.
So far the team includes Carol McGregor of McDongal Films, perhaps better known Ewan McGregor’s mother, and writer Marc Pye, who has worked on shows such as the BBC’s The Street and Channel 4’s hugely popular show Shameless.
Casting for actors in London, LA and Toronto has also taken a lot of time, and while he said he’d “love to” announce who they were, contractually Mr Brown said he could not reveal anything about the big names interested in the film. However he did reveal there is one American and five from the UK and that they are “really top actors”.
“The great thing is the responses I’m getting from the actors is fantastic, because of where it is. They get offered lots of movies, some they take, some they don’t. They just love the idea of Shetland.”
The story has also been developed and has “shaped up beautifully”, with a lot of time having been spent on working on the character development: “We knew all the characters but we had no back stories for them, just names, so now they’ve all got lives, they’ve all got a story.”
He has also been working with distributors to raise interest in the film, which is also going “really positively”.
Mr Brown said there was huge interest because the film will be set in a rural location and isn’t a story about poverty, drugs and inner city life. He said: “People are looking at this as Local Hero, Whisky Galore … so it’s got that real feel good thing attached to it so the distributors are really very interested in what’s going on.”
While in Shetland Mr Brown is heading to Fetlar to meet with residents and community development officer Robert Thomson to discuss any issues and give a roundup of what has happened since he last saw them in November. He will also be seeing some of the local actors he is interested in working with.
He has a further meeting with staff at the economic development unit to discuss the logistics of filming in Shetland. With shooting set to begin in September, accommodation for the production team is posing a few problems.
Despite the practical issues, Mr Brown said he was committed to the project being done in Shetland: “As soon as I set my eyes on Fetlar that was it, it was always going to be Fetlar. It would be far simpler to do it on Yell, or elsewhere but Shetland is where I always wanted to do it, and when I saw Fetlar I knew I wanted to do it there.
“It’s causing nightmares for my production people because they’re trying to logistically work everything out and trying to deal with accommodation, and it’s just difficult.”
Nevertheless, the project is progressing well. One big name involved that can be announced is Grammy Award winner Beth Neilsen Chapman, who got in touch with Mr Brown directly to ask if she could be involved with writing music for the film.
Mr Brown worked with Ms Neilsen Chapman on a previous project, and after meeting up with her on her recent tour in Scotland and telling her about the project, she asked if she could be involved.
He said: “When she got back to Nashville, she emailed saying listen, I know it’s a bit of a cheek, but I’d love to write and perform the title song for Between Weathers, which is fantastic.”
He is also keen for as much of the music as possible to be composed and played by local artists and has been in touch with Shetland Arts to discuss the possibilities.
SIC development committee chairman Josie Simpson said: “Recent examples of filming projects in Shetland such as Simon King’s Shetland Diaries have had immediate positive benefits for Shetland by generating a significant interest in the Isles and I think that this project has the potential to do the same to a much wider audience.”