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Inverness photographer and short filmmaker Paul Campbell premieres Confluence his short film at Inverness Film Festival at Eden Court on Saturday – and talks about it and his subject, a fiddle-maker

By Margaret Chrystall

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Inverness photographer Paul Campbell's first short film is premiered at Inverness Film Festival on Saturday with The Last Autumn, starting at 11.15am at Eden Court as part of Inverness Film Festival. Paul answers some of Margaret Chrystall's questions about the film and the making of it.

Q Is this the first short film you have made?

I've made a number of short films to date but these have either been for promotional or corporate clients. Confluence is my second, non commercial, short. I did a five-minute film on Steve Feltham the Nessie Hunter. In fact, I'm currently trying to piece together a number of short films about people who live and work around Loch Ness. The idea is to develop this into a longer piece with a view to making a documentary series for television.

Reflections of Charlie Webster.
Reflections of Charlie Webster.

Q Why did you decide to choose Charlie Webster as your subject?

The Loch Ness Monster! I was giving Charlie's partner, Heather, a lift whilst she was dressed as Nessie. I was working on a promotional shoot for the Loch Ness Marathon and Heather had volunteered to dress up as Nessie. She mentioned that Charlie was a luthier (a luthier is a craftsperson who builds/repairs string instruments that have a neck and a sound box) and I thought this sounded great from both an aesthetic and audio perspective.

Bruce MacGregor appears in Paul Campbell's film.
Bruce MacGregor appears in Paul Campbell's film.

Q His work as a luthier running his business Fit As A Fiddle seems pretty unique – the effects of the pandemic on that meant he had to adapt, it says in the information in the film festival brochure. Had you started making the film before the pandemic came along and how did you find the process of making the film?

No, I started the film as we came out of the first lockdown in 2020 and filmed it over four separate days. Filming was difficult, but, as I self shoot, it made life easier. There were some technical issues with the audio, but nothing too bad. On the whole we were able to keep a distance and shoot a lot outdoors.

Paul Campbell's film follows Charlie webster's life and work.
Paul Campbell's film follows Charlie webster's life and work.

Q You are a very experienced photographer. How have you found the transition into making films – are there many similarities or are there a lot of new challenges and techniques to making a short film?

The transition from professional photographer to making films has been a slow and steady one. Yes there's a lot of similarities when it comes to framing a picture and understanding composition and light etc, but the one big thing that's different is that filmmaking is a slower process. Taking time to set up the camera, arrange shots, film sequences, was hard at first. I tended to rush things and not spend enough time considering all that's involved when filming. I also edit my own work, which has been a steep learning curve over the years. Fortunately there's a good network of other filmmakers around to call upon if you need help. The other big thing about filmmaking is learning how to tell stories, and for this I began a degree three years ago with the UHI studying their course, Contemporary Filmmaking in the Highlands.

Confluence features luthier Charlie Webster.
Confluence features luthier Charlie Webster.

Q How do you feel about the premiere – are you nervous about seeing the film on a big screen?

Yes, it's quite exciting to see it on the big screen, hopefully the audio will come across nice and clear. I wouldn't say I'm nervous, in fact I've been doing a fair bit of filming recently so haven't had much time to think about it.

Q Is there anything you would like people to know about Confluence before they come and see it on Saturday?

There's some beautiful fiddle music by Bruce MacGregor in the film from his album Loch Ness. Bruce kindly agreed to be in the film and play a track for me whilst we were there. Bruce is also one of Charlie's oldest customers. Plus, it's on before the main film, The Last Autumn, which looks fantastic with some great cinematography, so it's worth coming along for that.

Confluence by Paul Campbell has its premiere screening on Saturday (Nov 6) at 11.15pm with film The Last Autumn. tickets and info: eden-court.co.uk

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