New BBC film series - The Mist Covered Mountains at
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 02:32 AM   #1
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New BBC film series - The Mist Covered Mountains

An Email Bulletin was recently sent to me from Piers Warren of Wildeye, about someone having success with their first major film, and I thought that it may be of interest to DVi members. I have contacted Keith Collins and he has kindly given me permission to reproduce on the DVi website, this inspiring story covering his ambition to make a film on the Scottish Highlands.

The Mist Covered Mountains

Keith Collin's first film - The Mist Covered Mountains - not only was awarded Best
of Show at the recent Scottish Mountain film festival at Aviemore, but has also
just been picked up by BBC Scotland. Last year, before making his film, Keith
took two Editing courses and the Developing Ideas and Writing Proposals courses
with Wildeye. Keith tells his story:

"When the phone rang earlier this week and the voice on the other end said
"hello this is BBC Scotland we've seen your film and we want to feature it on
one of our programmes next week" I realised that all the hard work, all the
highs and lows may have been worth it.

As a child I had been surrounded by the countryside and nature, and growing up
in a community surrounded by Farmers, Gamekeepers, Blacksmiths etc I soon
realised how important country people were to the living landscape.

On my first visit to Scotland I vividly remember the impact the diverse array of
wildlife, the people and the landscape had on my young imagination and I
remember how sad I was when I had to leave and return home. I also remember
after arriving home, unpacking my suitcase and inhailing the woodsmoke, the
heather and the smell of the wilderness on my clothes, a scent that to this day
still stimulates that early memory of my inauguration into the Scottish

As an adult my most of my career in Wildlife management was spent in selective
harvesting of the excess Scottish wild deer which are such an integral part of
this environment, a job which like the long extinct predator I was replacing
entailed outwitting the quarry in his own environment and making a swift and
humane end to his existence, a job at which I became very efficient and which
brought me into contact with lots of other wildlife and lots of interesting

They say there's a book in all of us and as I matured I realised that the book
in me had to be a film simply because I could not describe in words the
magnificence of the Highlands of Scotland as I see it, and also in a world which
is rapidly changing around me I felt that I needed to portray my concerns for
the future of these misty hills which have become my home.

Working close with Wildlife and endeavouring to capture those classic kodak
moments that we all attempt obviously drew me towards still photography - a
discipline which I seemed to drift in and out of as technology continually
seemed to overtake me.

Then whilst on a recent trip to the USA I was fortunate to stay with a tribe of
Native Americans whose ancestors long ago had been forced to move to a barren
reservation that was deemed worthless. Through native skills and natural
instincts inherited over generations they eventually established their
reservation into one of North America's most pristine wilderness areas which now
boasts some of the finest herds of American Elk and associated wildlife, and
also provides the tribe with a sustainable living from natural harvesting,
eco-tourism etc.

The similarity between the native American approach to sustainable wildlife and
habitat upkeep and the Scottish method was perhaps the trigger which inspired me
to try to paint a picture using a movie camera which I hoped would portray the
important part native People play in the modern wildlife ecosystem.

In my opinion Highland Scottish People are as near to native People as we have
in the UK. I then had to persuade the local community to allow me to film within
their society with varying responses from "but you're not a film-maker" to "when
do we start". But after receiving a general consensus of approval, my own doubts
started to surface regarding my ability to complete the film to a standard which
would justify their trust.

I also knew that in order to do justice to the subject I would have to
accumulate a library of seasonal Scottish wildlife footage for the final edit
which I planned would take approx one year.

Subsequently I enrolled on what seemed every filmaking course available and I
eventually gained the confidence to plan the content of my film which I knew
should be an easy viewing middle of the road film which needed to appeal to the
widest possible audience. I also realised the huge amount of gratitude I owed to
the dedication, enthusiasm and encouragement of all the tutors at all the film
courses I had attended and that the final cut should reflect that their
unstinting diligence with me was not in vain.

After becoming dissalusioned by watching celebrity led wildlife programmes which
often humanised animals by giving them Disneylike names and also wildlife
programmes which appeared to be struggling for footage so much so that they had
to use up time by showing you how they made the programme I decided that I
wanted my film to be a real-life natural history / social history documentary
mix which would document the relationship between people, wildlife and the
landscape with a compelling storyline which could possibly melt the hardest
heart. I realised that in order to get any message across to the viewer I could
not be political and I could not point the finger so I decided to suggest in a
very subtle way through my own experiences my concerns for the environment I
live in and which we all care so much about.

My film would not be made from a point of anger about how everything from
climate change to politics was slowly destroying life in these mountains but
from a point of sorrow. For example at how some of our finest herds of red deer
are now being slaughtered on an industrial scale in the name of conservation,
which appears from where I live as eco-genocide - the destruction of one species
to benefit another.

Nagging doubts during my filming excurtions often tried to persuade me to take
the easy option and forget the human interest aspect of the film - and go for a
wildlife documentary with a voice over - but these doubts were quickly
extinguished one cold snowy night.

After being out all night filming during the lambing season - a blizzard blowing
- it was minus 7 and the wind chill took my breath away. New born lambs were
dying minutes after birth because of the cold. Finally recognising that both
myself and the shepherd who I was trying to film were on the edge of hypothermia
we headed back to the vehicle for shelter.

The pitiful sight of the shepherd in the landrover soaking wet, shivering
uncontrollably and holding the limp body of a dead lamb made me question whether
it was all worth it. Then, in an act of what appeared to me to be hopelessness,
the shepherd starting breathing his own warm breath into the lamb's mouth and
after only a few moments the lamb burst back into life and all my doubts

The Mist Covered Mountains portrays the importance of Scottish sporting estates
which have been managed by Highland People for centuries - who like the Native
Americans mentioned earlier have used their inherited instincts and skills and
created sancturies for some of our most fragile species. The story follows the
adventures of a professional wildlife guide on his quest to locate black grouse
for clients to photograph. With sub-plots which cover conservation, social
history and eco-tourism The Mist Covered Mountains is really just a cry from the
wilderness which has drawn attention to itself by the charm and innocence of the
local people involved.

Due to the interest created by this film, and as there are lots more stories to
tell, I have decided to make a series of six based on the theme of the Mist
Covered Mountains with this film as episode one - A Cry From The Wilderness .

If by making this film I have possibly raised awareness to the concerns of
Highland People, for the future of their wilderness, or if I only create the
possibility that my Grandchildren will be given the chance to see the black
grouse in the spring, smell the musky aroma of the deer herds on the breeze, or
simply see a Highland Crofter gathering his sheep, I would have achieved my
goal. Good Filming"

Keith Collins / Highlands of Scotland.

Contact Keith at:
Tony Davies-Patrick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:39 AM   #2
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
Posts: 1,200

Thanks for the post.

Was this shot on film or Digital? If so do you know what it was shot on?

Ken Diewert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 22nd, 2006, 01:13 PM   #3
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I'm not sure, Ken. The best thing is to Email Keith and ask him, as I'm sure he'll let you know.
Tony Davies-Patrick is offline   Reply

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