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Jacob takes a leap to find the perfect shot near Seilebost, Isle of Harris.

Last week, we were proud to launch a new website as our online storytelling continues to evolve.

Once again, we’ve worked with our friend and photographer Laurence Winram to best capture island lives and landscapes alongside the words we share.

But, this time we also set him a new challenge, to bring his own imagery to life in an accompanying film, creating a moving snapshot of the Isle of Harris in high definition.

While Laurence’s lens is more usually focussed on the fixed image, his son Jacob has been making a name for himself as a young filmmaker. So, teaming up together for the first time, they set out on a five day shoot for us with their cameras in hand. Laurence tells us…

“Officially, I was directing and Jacob was the cameraman, but those lines overlapped a fair bit and each of us would at times take on the other role."

A lens and a lobster, the perks of filming in Harris.

Jacob expands on this…

“By the end of the week, we were both filming to make sure we had multiple angles on everything. Coming from his photography background, it was interesting to work with Dad in this way and get his different perspective on particular shots.”

We encouraged them to make their short film in line with our open, straight and true values. There would be no actors or scripted scenes, with Laurence and Jacob often filming what they found, when they found it. Laurence goes on…

“We loved that everyone was so accommodating and willing to take time out for us. It’s very unlike working in cities where folk are constantly watching the clock and in a rush.”

He continues…

“Kelp diver Lewis Mackenzie, in particular, went to great lengths to help us. He’s also a first-class raconteur, full of tales of the wildlife and his work at sea. And, he wouldn’t let us leave without giving us a fresh lobster and some sea spaghetti!”

Providing shade and sheltering from showers.

However, the Harris weather, as is its wont, often proved to be less accommodating.
They tell us…

“Harris is a feral beast, one minute it's perfect blue skies, then moments later it’s throwing mist, rain or gales at you. It’s what we love about the place but it can be stressful when the light is going and the stunning view suddenly disappears behind thick cloud.”

Jacob agrees….

“Lots of time was spent under jackets or umbrellas protecting the cameras, but so much of Harris lends itself to looking spectacular whatever the weather, so shooting the landscape itself was a dream.”

 

Laurence and Jacob at the distillery.After five days of island exploration and intense effort, it was time to retire to the studio to work on editing. After many weeks of cuts and recuts, the final piece of the puzzle came with the integration of a musical score.

For this, the Winrams turned to award-winning composer and producer Donald Shaw, formerly of Scottish band Capercaillie, and musician Michael McGoldrick. Laurence tells us…

“Donald had already worked on a BBC television series about the Hebrides and the subtlety of his music and production clearly revealed his natural affinity with Harris. That kind of direct experience of the island was crucial to maintaining the film's authenticity."

The result of their work can now be seen, a simple but wonderful little film which gives a real sense of our community’s story and place in the world.

Jacob enjoying blue skies and a rare rocky beach.

From elemental landscapes comes life, sparks of tradition coexisting with modernity, and a thriving distillery at the heart of it all. There are people of unique countenance, old and young, joined as a community to build a bright future together. Jacob and Laurence conclude…

“Hopefully, the film is a glimpse into how beautiful and amazing the island and the people there can be. We hope we’ve conveyed something of its beauty and character and the distillery's place within that. Really, all we want is for folk to be as moved by Harris as we both are."

We hope you can take some time out of your own hectic schedule to connect with us in Harris through their film too.

Perhaps pour some Isle of Harris Gin before you press play and, for just a few special minutes, be here...