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Film partly shot in isles gets cinema release

A FILM about young people going on a coming of age road trip through Scotland which prominently features Shetland is being released in cinemas across the UK on Friday.

Moon Dogs shot a few scenes in the isles in 2014 and 2015, including at Hamnavoe, in Burra, and at the Lerwick Up Helly Aa.

The film’s blurb says it focuses on a “road trip following teenage step-brothers Michael (Jack Parry-Jones) and Thor (Christy O’Donnell) as they journey from Shetland to Glasgow for very different reasons.

“Aspiring Irish singer Caitlin (Tara Lee) beguiles both boys and passions come to a head with a music festival and an ancient Norse ceremony as the backdrop.”

Co-writer Raymond Friel said he briefly lived in Shetland when he was younger and had always wanted to include the isles in one of his projects.

The movie also got an early showing at last year’s Screenplay festival at Mareel, in Lerwick.

“Shetland has always stayed in my mind and as I’ve grown up and got into writing things, it’d always stuck with me that I wanted to do something which was either set in Shetland or started in Shetland,” Friel said.

“So when it came to a story of a road trip, a Scottish-Celtic road trip, it felt that starting in Shetland was the way to go.”

The film, directed by Philip John, was BAFTA Scotland nominated. Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh is on record as saying that “not one, not two but three stars are born in this beautiful movie”.

Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe composed the soundtrack to the film.

Friel said the film touches on themes of feeling lonely in an island location, and experiencing the need to escape.

“As it’s a sort of coming of age film, and it’s also about people who feel isolated and want to get out, as you do when you’re younger, an island setting is brilliant for that,” he said.

“In terms of islands in Scotland, just the fact that Shetland is so far away…it really fitted having a character who has grown up, and his girlfriend has left, and he’s stuck in Shetland, so he’s just desperate to get out.

“It’s often the case in island communities that you have lots of people who when they’re growing up want to get out, but almost all of them invariably return when they’re a bit older. It was kind of hooking it to that sort of feeling you get.”

Moon Dogs is in cinemas from 1 September.


Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021