Bardennoch: Dumfries and Galloway filmmaker wrapping second part of grassroots film and arts project hopes to inspire young rural creatives

The second phase of Bardennoch, a Dumfries and Galloway based grassroots film and arts project, has come to a close this week as young creatives in the region enjoy the benefits of the impressive collaborative effort.

Headed by three young women; founder and director Rachel Shnapp, 24, and producers Stella Scobie, 25, and Eilidh Nurse, 24, Bardennoch has developed over the last year to feature an art exhibition and a skills-share in addition to the original short-film concept.

The shoot for the film wrapped earlier this month and the art exhibition closes today, June 27, after a seven week run at the Kirkcudbright Galleries.

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Speaking exclusively to Scotland on Sunday, Ms Shnapp said: “The catalyst for the whole project was a discussion I had with a really good friend of mine back in March 2020.

“I asked him what his kind of career goal was, and he said: ‘I just want to design really good’, which was really an eye-opening moment for me because as an aspiring filmmaker I had always set my goals on an award at Cannes or a Bafta, and the conversation really jolted me into realising that I should be focusing on making work that I think is really good and can be proud of, and not worrying about how it is going to sit within a competitive industry.

“I wrote the first draft of the script that night and it kind of evolved into this beautiful three-legged fairy of the north thing that is Bardennoch.”

Project goal

Having grown up in Moniaive in Dumfries and Galloway, Ms Shnapp returned to the region last year after studying in Glasgow and later living in London.

Rachel Shnapp, founder and director of Bardennoch.

She continued: “Moving can seem like the only option for young people considering pursuing creative careers in rural communities because it feels like all the jobs are in more cosmopolitan areas.

“That was certainly my experience growing up here 10 years ago, I felt there was nothing on offer that I could really get involved with.”

Producer, Ms Scobie, agreed and said that the project was a way to help young career people, like themselves, get on the ladder.

She said: “We wanted to help people make a step up in their careers, and provide CV-worthy opportunities, as well as showing a different side of rural Scotland too.”

The Bardennoch exhibition in the Kirkcudbright Galleries, Dumfries and Galloway. (Credit: Rachel Shnapp)

Ms Shnapp added: “Yes absolutely, the whole point of the project was to create a space for non-urban and rural narratives within visual art and film that aren’t set 300 years in the past, that didn’t have to be this kind of period drama.

"There are other stories to be told about the countryside.”

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Bardennoch short-film

Artworks by Fraser Irvine (left) and Ella Rose Shnapp (right) in the Bardennoch exhibition in the Kirkcurdbright Galleries, Dumfries and Galloway. (Credit: Rachel Shnapp)

Shot just outside Moniaive between June 10 and 12, 2021, the 12-minute short film features a young woman returning home to Dumfries and Galloway, and weaves together themes of community, friendship and guilt.

The wardrobe was created in collaboration with a local artist, Hayley Watson, from Annan, and the soundtrack was created by a local band, VanIves.

While it won’t officially premiere until 2022, Ms Shnapp started the editing process started this week with local editor Sian Yeshe and they hope to have the film ready for the summer festival season.

Other than a grant from Creative Scotland, Bardennoch was funded entirely through Dumfries and Galloway sources - including Catstrand, Glencairn Community Council Wind-farm Fund and the Holywood Trust - as part of the push to keep the project as local as possible.

Art exhibition

As it developed, the team began to realise just how many people stood to benefit from having an outlet to share their creativity; too many to fit into one production.

Marly Baker deciding on costumes for Bardennoch short film. (Credit: Rachel Shnapp)

Ms Shnapp said: “We thought the best way to showcase more skills across various mediums would be an exhibition and we were really lucky to partner with the incredible Kirkcudbright Galleries, a really stunning gallery in the old bank in Kirkcudbright.

“The theme was home or your connection to home and what it means to you, and it featured artists from or connected to Dumfries and Galloway under the age of 30."

Ms Scobie said while the exhibition shared the same name as the production and was born from it, it was actually much broader in terms of its possibilities.

She said: “The film has its own specific narrative and characters but having the exhibition allowed the project to broaden out into the bigger ideas and other mediums that people were keen to showcase.”

The name Bardennoch is shared by two hills on either side of Dumfries and Galloway, and came to be a symbol of the creative bridge the project was fabricating; connecting a network of young people who otherwise would never have discovered each other and collaborated.

Skills-share

The third element, the skills-share, will come to life in September and October this year in the form of the crew and creatives involved in the project visiting schools in the region to highlight available opportunities.

Ms Shnapp said that growing up, she didn’t even realise that becoming a director was an option and she wants to address that.

She said: “We wanted to talk to people in the school-leavers bracket and say: this is a group of creatives with very different backgrounds, who came to their careers in very different ways and are on very different journeys; but you can do it.

“It is absolutely possible.”

Next steps

Looking to the future, the female trio are keen to continue offering opportunities to help under 30s gain creative experience in rural Scotland.

Ms Shnapp said her dream would be to do a yearly production with a different group of under 30s each time because the filming process itself was “so incredible”.

She added: “The main thing for me is that I want to continue providing a platform for younger people.

“There is so much on offer, not just Dumfries and Galloway but in all of rural Scotland and I would love in the future to expand my projects and the opportunities even further.”

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Producers Eilidh Nurse and Stella Scobie testing out lighting on set. (Credit: Rachel Shnapp)
Founder and director Rachel Shnapp with producers Stella Scobie and Eilidh Nurse.
Cinematographer Ruari Barber-Fleming reviewing footage during the Bardennoch shoot. (Credit: Rachel Shnapp)
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