From ospreys to hula-hoops – XpoNorth had it all

Blythe Duff stars in the award-winning, life-affirming short film Hula

Question: What’s the connection between a magnificent osprey taking a 20lb trout out of a Highland loch and Blythe Duff mastering the art of the hula-hoop?

Answer: XpoNorth, Scotland’s leading creativity festival, which took place this week in a warm and sunny Inverness.

We were in the Highland capital as delegates at XpoNorth and were wowed by the wealth of talent on display. From all corners of the country there were people from the worlds of music, screen, writing, fashion, crafts, gaming, broadcasting, publishing and textiles. Based in Eden Court, the festival was a magnificent showcase for what’s happening creatively in Scotland right now. And there is a great deal going on.

Maramedia's breathtaking osprey clip from Highlands - Scotland's Wild Heart

To watch Maramedia’s/BBC Scotland’s breathtaking osprey clip, click here

On Day One we took in as many of the events relating to writing and publishing as we could. New writers, old writers, new publishing, old publishing – change and new developments helping to maintain a thriving sector.

On Day Two there were two particular screen events I wanted to see. One was a talk by producer Nigel Pope from Maramedia discussing the making of Highlands – Scotland’s Wild Heart.  Hearing about the skills, dedication and extraordinary patience of the crew as they wait for those perfect shots was fascinating. And the clips he’d chosen to show were absolutely breathtaking!

The other event was the world premiere of young filmmaker Robin Haig’s short film Hula. As director, Robin has created a delightful film that is warm, funny and poignant, combining to perfection the performance of the hugely talented Blythe Duff and the Highland setting of Dornie, a village in Wester Ross that sits at the meeting place of the waters of Loch Duich and Loch Alsh.  It’s not in the least surprising that Robin won this year’s BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award for Best Drama.

To watch the trailer click here

To watch the trailer click here

But films don’t make themselves and we were very fortunate to meet Lindsay McGee, Hula‘s producer. Like so many people, I wasn’t fully aware of all the hard work and skill that goes on behind the scenes of any film and I suspect Robin was very glad to have the talented and capable Lindsay as her producer.

All this talent, all this creativity and some of the most glorious scenery in the world – Scotland certainly has so much going for it. And who could ask for better than that!

For the BBC report on Hula’s premiere click here