Filming for the Fetlar movie Between Weathers is due to reach Shetland in early spring, according to director Jim Brown. Before that the first footage will be shot in Aberdeen and Canada while the crew awaits the return of longer daylight for the island scenes.
The team at B4Films is still at the pre-production stage and it is now over a year since filming was originally due to take place in Shetland. But Mr Brown said today he was still “bang on schedule” to have the film completed within a year.
“It’s a huge jigsaw,” he said. “It just takes a little bit of time to get all the pieces in place. But it’s all coming along extremely well.”
He hopes the UK premiere will be in the new cinema at Mareel before launching at the Toronto International Film Festival in late September.
The director and some of his team are due up in Shetland sometime around the end of the month when he will have “a couple of big announcements” to make, including news of six “very famous” actors – three Scots, two English and a Canadian. They are set to join the cast alongside singer Sharleen Spiteri of the band Texas and well-known actors including Colin McCredie, Dawn Steele, Dom Littlewood and model Amber Anderson.
Ewan McGregor, whose mother Carol is an executive producer, is still being mentioned for a possible star appearance, which would be a massive coup for Between Weathers. “He’s very aware of it and very supportive of the whole film,” Mr Brown said. But talks with the megastar will not start again in an attempt to secure him until there are definitive dates for filming.
Although at the beginning it was intended to do all the filming in Shetland, Mr Brown dismissed recent concerns that his commitment to the islands had waned. An article in a tabloid newspaper quoted him saying “a considerable amount” of the shooting was now to be done in his home city of Aberdeen, due to the lack of light in Shetland at this time of year.
But he told The Shetland Times it was “certainly not the case” he was giving up on Shetland although interior scenes will be filmed elsewhere, probably in Aberdeen, because he was unable to find suitable sets in Shetland.
He said: “We’ve had a good look around Shetland with the help of Neil Henderson at the council and there is just nowhere really practical for what we need.”
Asked if he still had a cast iron commitment to filming in Shetland, he said: “It’s a Shetland film. Shetland itself is one of the major stars in the film – visually stunning, breathtaking, dynamic, dramatic. But we need to get the right time of year and a decent amount of light throughout the day to film in.”
Some of the 100 Shetland cast members chosen after auditions in Fetlar and Lerwick have heard nothing from the filmmakers since, although their faces have appeared on the production’s website. However, Mr Brown said contracts would be issued soon. “We will undoubtedly be getting in touch with them very, very soon. Everything is going in the right direction.”
Shetland Arts is a major partner in Between Weathers and is confident that post-production work will be done at Mareel. Shetland Arts director Gwilym Gibbons is an executive producer. He recently revealed to trustees that Between Weathers business had taken him on five trips in two months in the UK and to Cannes between the end April and the end of June.
He offered re-assurance to people who might be concerned by the recent lack of visible activity and the delay to filming getting under way. “It’s still full steam ahead as far as I’m concerned. I understand the sense of worry or uncertainty that people might have but this is the world of feature films. There is a lot of things have to be lined up before it can be ‘green-lit’ – before principal photography can start.
“There seems to be a momentum behind this project, although it might feel slow for some people. But you never know for certain whether a film is going to happen until the cameras start to roll.”
Mr Brown said the financial side of the film was “looking very good”. The film is now a co-production between B4Films and a Canadian company. Meetings are scheduled for November with film distribution companies for Canada and the United States who, Mr Brown said, were “very excited”.
Meanwhile Fiddlers’ Bid look set to feature as performers in the film and could write some of its soundtrack after the filmmakers went to watch their gig in Aberdeen on Wednesday. Mr Brown is keen for the soundtrack, which might feature the Texas singer, to be recorded in the new studio in Mareel and released as an album.
During his next visit he is due to meet other local musicians, including Bongshang, who have been involved with the film from an early stage. Well-known American singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman is also signed up.
Mr Brown will be going around the various potential filming locations in Shetland with his production director, obviously including Fetlar but also Unst and Whalsay which have been pencilled in for possible scenes.
This week the last 15 people to be selected for the cast were announced following auditions in Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness which over 1,000 took part in. Mr Brown said he thought he had uncovered some potential stars. “I predict that one or two will really make it big.”