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Ragnar premieres at Screenplay festival

A SHORT film described as a “dark comedy steeped in Viking lore” will be one of the main homegrown attractions at this year’s Screenplay festival.

Ragnar, the first movie produced by the Shetland Film Collective, will be shown at Mareel on 27 and 31 August.

It is the brainchild of Stephen Mercer, who was helped by a crew of around 25 people despite the production having no budget.

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The 25-minute film “explores the theme of how friendship can help people through emotional hardship and depression”.

Scriptwriter and director Mercer said filming took place over the last number of months, with much of the shooting taking place in Brae and Muckle Roe.

“I started Shetland Film Collective three or four months ago,” he said, “it was just a way for people interested in making films together to work on projects. Ragnar is the first of those projects.”

With no funding in place the film was produced by using “very basic” equipment.

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He said the main outlays were some props bought from eBay and a wooly hat which set the team back £10.

Mercer also managed to keep the crew fuelled-up on long days by filming a Ragnar-themed advert for Frankie’s Fish & Chips in return for food.

“We wanted to show people that it doesn’t take much in the way of equipment and money to make something that’s good. It just takes time and effort, and enthusiasm.

“We wanted to highlight what can be done on that sort of budget and to inspire people to go out and make more,” Mercer said.

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Screenplay director Kathy Hubbard said the film was a great example of how working together can achieve big things.

“We are very happy indeed to be showing Ragnar at Screenplay,” she said.

“It is a pleasure to showcase the first film from the Shetland Film Collective; it shows what can be done when people come together and pool their talents – and their energy and enthusiasm.

Ragnar is a cracking film, and made to an exceptional standard. Other film festivals are already showing an interest and we think this could go far and wide.”

It seems more movies could be on the horizon for the Shetland Film Collective if the screenings are a success.

“If people enjoy it,” Mercer said, “then we’ll make more.”

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this year’s Screenplay, taking place over a nine day period from 27 August to 4 September, will showcase quite a number of locally produced films.

The festival’s programme can be found at: http://www.shetlandarts.org/whats-on/festivals/screenplay/ 

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