14 Jul 2021

Survival Sessions Q&A: Dòl Eoin MacKinnon

We recently caught up with Hebridean film maker Dòl Eoin MacKinnon to discuss his creative process, insperation and themes behind the Survival Sessions special commission "Nuadh Bhreith"(New Birth) a film by Dòl Eoin and Niteworks.

How did you become a filmmaker?

By complete accident. I was training to become a biology teacher when I was asked to act in some dramatic inserts for the Angus Peter Campbell documentary. I declined but after some encouragement agreed, and then I met director Norman Stone. I could somehow tell that Norman, at 59, probably had the same excitement about his work that he did when he was 29. This unknown, unconsidered, unreachable career for the likes of me would become my happy sentence too. But Norman Stone and Angus Peter Campbell are basically to blame. And I will be forever grateful. 

Can you tell us about your processes for putting together a film, how does your creative approach work?

We are the media through which feelings flow, are made sense of, and reduced down to their most potent capacity to move. I just let them flow freely, reduce, and season to taste. Filmmaking is just cooking with feelings and time. I love to cook.   

What inspires you in film, what other filmmakers do you like to watch?

When you understand how it all works, watching films is like reaching the age when you see the sock instead of the puppet. I admire filmmakers who make me see the puppet again. Tarkovsky, for his breathtaking sculpture of time; Hitchcock, for the fear; and Chris Columbus for fun. Of the more contemporary filmmakers, I find Lynne Ramsay and Damián Szifron inspiring. 

  What have been the challenges of working on the commission in these pandemic times?

In one sense the biggest challenge of this picture was conveying some of the themes we became acquainted with during the pandemic presented as an engaging story. The production constraints weren’t so taxing since, as viewers can see, the story almost entirely follows one protagonist and her cute wee sidekick. You’ve worked with Niteworks a few times now, why do you think you work so well together? With Gaels, there’s this hard-to-put-your-finger-on-feeling of kinship. There’s so much shared heritage that it’s almost like you’re childhood friends, we just get and inspire each other. 

  What can people expect from the commission, “Nuadh Bhreith” (New Birth) and have you enjoyed working on it?

Very much so, it was a real honour to be asked and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Working with Kheanna Walker was a pleasure and her whole sense of physicality and dramatic range gave me creative ease.  As for structuring the story, when we move forwards in time, it’s easy to experience fear since there are always so many unknowns. But what if we turn time around? What if we knew then what we know now, would things be quite as scary? I took as many challenging lockdown themes as I could and attempted to delicately process them in a story that I hope will entertain, evoke, and inspire. It comes from a desire to connect to people, place, and nature. I haven’t been home since the lockdown began but even the thought of it keeps me going.

You can catch Nuadh Bhreith, the Survival Sessions special commision from Niteworks and Dòl Eoin as part of the Closing Concert on Saturday 17th of July.

Details and tickets can be found at: https://www.hebceltfest.com/booking

Posted in Blog on Jul 14, 2021