The Broch of Clachtoll

A documentary about an Iron Age structure which has been excavated on the Northwest Coast of Highland Scotland, mostly by volunteers. This tower, constructed of stone taken from the immediate area and without mortar to bind it, was destroyed rapidly by fire some two thousand years ago. It raises more questions than can be answered about why the builders chose to construct it where it is, with a bedrock floor differing by some three metres on either side.

Perched on the top of the rocks between Clachtoll and Stoer we take to the skies in order to learn about this house which enjoyed commanding views out to sea. Back in Iron Age times this was the super highway with ships passing from as far away as the Mediterranean. This is a journey back in time with the former Chair of Historic Assynt, a charitable organisation set up to explore the wider area of Assynt and Sutherland.

  • Mick Child
  • George Child
  • Mick Child
  • Dave McBain
  • Gordon Sleight
  • Forge Photography Ltd
  • Gordon Sleight
    Key Cast
    "As himself (voiceover)"
  • Becky Gray
    Key Cast
    "As Herself (voiceover)"
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    3 minutes 28 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    December 24, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Canon EOS C200 MKII, DJI X7
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Mick Child, George Child

In 2018 my son George and I set out on a journey. I’d taken early retirement after being a railway engineer for 30 years and George was just 15 with his GCSEs ahead of him. He’d decided that he wanted to be a filmmaker, so after I’d scripted with the help of Dave McBain & Gordon Sleight and George had storyboarded, we packed our Canon C200 and DJI Inspire 2 drone and headed about as far northwest as you can go on the Scottish mainland. This wasn’t just a physical journey, it was also our first trip into the world of documentary making. Well, our first attempt at a professional film anyway.

It is fair to say that we learnt as we went along. I had just recently passed my CAA PfCO qualification for commercial use of a drone, and we were learning how to use the new C200 camera. We are embarrassed to say that our sound engineering left something to be desired, recorded on a Zoom field recorder and in extremely cold weather accompanied by high winds. I say it was embarrassing because the presenter, Gordon, has a son who is a sound engineer for CNN and we so wanted to impress him knowing that he'd probably see it.

George was the camera operative for both the C200 and onboard drone X7 camera as well as being assistant director and DoP.

We originally produced a 10 minute presentation and 2 years on, felt that we could cut it down to just over 3 minutes in order to keep it focused and to the point. Our aim, to enter it into some film festivals along with more recent efforts in an attempt to show off of our work. George is now 18, and producing some incredible footage for his age as we start to build our company. This is part-time for George as he is at Bedford College studying a Level 3 UAL Creative Media Production and Technology Diploma which he is due to complete in June 2021.

I enjoy writing and directing and George enjoys undertaking the role of DoP as well as camera operator. We both work together and independently of each other on projects and at 18-years of age, George has some fabulous productions under his belt.

I have now retired from his 35-year career as a railway engineer in order to concentrate on developing the business into a full time entity. At any one time Forge Photography has approximately 3 films in production.

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Director Statement

The Broch of Clachtoll is our first go at a professional documentary and was self funded by Forge Photography Ltd. It was a great opportunity for us to learn first hand about filming in a harsh and fairly remote location, whilst being able to give something back to the wonderful community that pulls together to achieve so much.

We learnt a lot on this shoot, probably most importantly, not to try to do too much yourself. We were also qualified drone operators (PfCO), using high quality equipment to deliver the aerial scenes. However we now buy in this service as it detracts heavily from the overall shoot and is very time consuming.

On this shoot we were a team of two. George was 15-years old when we made it, and he was able to perform the roles of DoP, camera man and assistant director. As a crew of two, we found ourselves manhandling the equipment through people's property and over walls, over rocky outcrops and through wet bogs in order to reach the shoot location. The filming took place in dry conditions thankfully, but with very high winds making the audio very challenging. Then the presenter let slip that his son-in-law worked as a sound engineer for CNN, which really upped the anti on us.

The biggest criticism we've had, is that we should have used Scottish presenters and narrators. If this has been a paid gig, then for sure we would have done that, but I think that Gordon Sleight, the then Chair of Historic Assynt, did a fabulous job in his first role in front of the camera. He appeared many more times after this on local television, so we like to think we helped him too in this aspect of his life. We are also indebted to Becky Gray whom gave her time free to narrate the film in her kitchen. Very low tech. and budget, sorry!

For us though, this was a great learning experience.