Loch Ness Film Festival 2012

“We were sick of our films getting rejected by festivals, so we thought, fuck it we’ll start our own.” William Doig and his son Andrew launched the Loch Ness Film Festival on September 2010, promoting filmmakers from all over the world with the focus on Scottish talent. It’s reputation has grown over the last three years as it strives to cement itself as the film festival for independent film-makers. The focus is on Scottish filmmakers, however everyone is welcome. The Doigs have put up as few barriers as possible to ensure everyone gets a fair crack at getting their film shown and Moviescramble was there to witness the action.

Opening the festival was The Big Slick, a comedy that made up in laughs what it lacked in production. It might not win any awards for technical achievements however on a budget of a reported £200, Director Graham Hughes utilizes a smart script and plays within his limits. Next up was David Keith’s comedy horror Attack of the Herbals, which provided both laughs and scares drawing parallels to Shaun of the Dead. Not many people can claim to have made a film about Nazi tea, but these boys from Aberdeen can and have even managed to get distribution from Camelot Entertainment. “I’m looking forward to getting my photo taken next to it as it sits at 47 in ASDA’s DVD chart,” boasts writer Liam Matheson. It’s a boast he can be proud of for a movie that was filmed over a year mainly on weekends as the crew juggled their filmmaking duties with their day jobs.

Unique chase scene from Attack of the Herbals

Saturday focused on short films, primarily from Scottish Filmmakers. Aberdeen’s Noble Brothers showcased Life of a Spy about a woman who tries to get her personal life in order when she discovers she has cancer. The short felt like the trailer for something bigger and a feature may still come of it. These are skilled filmmakers I’ll be keeping an eye on.

From England we had Walk Tall, a documentary by Kate Sullivan about a former Olympic gymnast teaching us the importance of posture. A charming wee film which proved an unexpected highlight.

Glasgow’s Johnny Herbin had a double bill in comedy Mugging for Amateurs and martial arts action short Rough House. While the former provided laughs from the audience, the latter showcased professional fight scenes from the stunt team that worked on Batman Begins.

It was Northern Ireland who stole the show however with Yuki, an Irish/Japanese fantasy short directed by Jonathan Beer and produced by Brian J Falconer. Visually impressive with an intriguiing, if not unfamiliar story, it remained a captivating and impressive film.

Production still from Yuki

Saturday’s screenings were capped off with a classic as the locals were treated to Whiskey Galore before the night ended at the Drumnadrochit Hotel where William Doig fronted the Murphy Brothers to perform a traditional ceilidh. Yuki producer Brian J Falconer was overheard saying “This is the most fun I’ve had at a festival.” His talent for film however does not transfer to the dance floor.

There were a few bleary eyes the next morning for the final bank of short films which focused more on the darker side of filmmaking. Psychological horror Summer Ice provided the suspense as a woman struggles with poverty and her sleazy landlord. Spain’s Historia Muerta brought the style, in a gothic vampire horror.

The weekend ended on the Sunday with a BBQ, giving filmmakers and fans a chance to enjoy the scenery before Ara Paiaya’s The Suppressor closed the festival. A micro budget action feature set in Aberdeen (what is it with Aberdeen?). Filled with epic gun battles and martial arts set pieces, one couldn’t help think that Ara had his tongue firmly in his cheek as he set cast and directed himself while channeling the essence of Steven Segal.

The credits had barely finished when the Doigs were speaking of their plans for next year. This didn’t stop them from going to the pub to have a well deserved pint while they did it though. Job done.

Thomas Simpson
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