Cromarty Hall Première for new film by Mark Jenkins

27 Aug 2012 in Film, Orkney

A new film by Stromness filmmaker Mark Jenkins will be shown for the first time this weekend. The Imaginary Worlds of Scapa Flow is a creative docu-drama inspired by memoirs of service men and women based in wartime Orkney. The film will be premiéred on Saturday 1 September 2012, 8pm at the Cromarty Hall, St Margaret’s Hope.

The film is the culmination of a film residency commissioned by the Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme (SFLPS) in collaboration with the Pier Arts Centre. The aim of the residency was to celebrate and respond to the themes of The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme – Landscapes of War, Landscapes of Peace, Natural Landscapes, Celebration and Communication.

Mark Jenkins said ‘Instead of picking one of the SFLPS themes I thought it possible to cover all of them. Having read publications about wartime Orkney, certain first person accounts resonated, reminding me of my own journey and experience here.’

The wartime memoirs have been sourced from three publications: ‘Scapa Flow’ by Malcolm Brown & Patricia Meehan, ‘Sky Over Scapa’ by Gregor Lamb, and ‘Bloody Orkney’ by Virginia Schroder. Supported by images from Orkney Library & Archive, Mark explored the themes of escapism and longing.

He commented ‘While I wanted to reflect on history, I didn’t want to make a straightforward documentary. I realised that entertainment – music, film and amateur dramatics – was huge in wartime Orkney and began to develop a narrative within these strands’.

After presenting his ideas to local groups and individuals, nearly 50 people in total, a 20 page script was written and 22 characters cast mainly from the South Ronaldsay drama group at the Cromarty Hall.

Mark continued ‘The two lead actors are Duncan McLean and Daniel Sargent. Duncan already has plenty of theatre experience and created the character of Islandman brilliantly. For Daniel it was a first time acting experience. I’d written the part of Wonderman with him in mind so I was confident he would be capable, and I wasn’t disappointed’.

Daniel added ‘I’ve spent a lot of time playing around at some of these wartime locations and it was exciting to get the opportunity to connect the past and present on film. It’s nice being yourself but it’s even nicer being somebody else, and playing 6 other people was sublime and right up my street. I hope I get the opportunity to act again’.

Many locals were involved in crewing for the film and providing audio recordings of memoirs. Interior scenes were shot at the Cromarty Hall as well as Kirbister and Corrigal Farm museums.

Exterior filming used locations around the coastline of Scapa Flow, focussing on many of the wartime structures.

The original soundtrack for the film has been composed and played by Orcadian James Watson.

‘James was incredible.’ Mark continued ‘This wasn’t the first time I’d worked with him but it was certainly the most elaborate. I’d seen James at a recent concert where he was using a fiddle through a loop pedal to create this wonderful layered effect. I thought this would work well with the idea of memory. We had an initial meeting and swapped guide tracks and thoughts. I think he’s done an amazing job, it’s a major part of the emotion of the film’.

James will be playing a specially composed set for the premiere at the Cromarty Hall.

Mark has been involved in cinema for nearly thirty years. As a film editor his films have picked up over 30 international film festival and six BAFTA Scotland awards. Since moving to Orkney he has made over 20 short films including ‘Reflections’, on the life and work of Sylvia Wishart and ‘Gunnie’, in memory of Gunnie Moberg.

The project was organised by the Pier Arts Centre with support from the Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Orkney Islands Council and the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2007-2013 Programme.

The Imaginary Worlds of Scapa Flow will be shown on Saturday September 1, 8 pm at the Cromarty Hall, St Margaret’s Hope, Orkney. Admission is free but booking is essential. Contact the Pier Arts Centre on 01856 850 209 to book a seat or for further information.

Source: Pier Arts Centre