In the Name of Culture: Stargazing, Pandas, and a Difficult Walk Across Edinburgh

The Scottish Documentary Institute was approached eight weeks ago to produce three short films for the Edinburgh International Culture Summit happening at the Scottish Parliament this week. Ministers and cultural policy makers from around the world are discussing how art and culture can build bridges between nations. You'll be able to find the archived video of their sessions here.

Dark Skies by Anne Milne

We produced one doc, one animation, and one drama – each of these five-minute films were screened at the beginning of one session.

The pressure to deliver films in response to the ambitious brief of the summit, in very short time, and of course on tight budget was tremendous. The conditions of production could not have been worse...

For Promenade, we had to film at 5am in order to capture empty streets in Edinburgh – but of course we had to pick the week the Queen was visiting Edinburgh, painting the streets of the city with a consistent yellow line of policemen in their high-visibilty jackets. And if that was not enough, the worst monsoons were pouring over us at all times.

Meanwhile for Dark Skies, we were looking for clear(er) skies at night in order to do some time lapse, not having realised that July is not the month for stargazing because we only have a few hours of darkness…and so we learn! 

But hey, give me animation any time! No weather conditions or technical problems challenging the process of producing Sweetie and Sunshine. Get a very talented and hardworking animator, and the film is in the bag!

At the Scottish Documentary Institute, we endure the belief in the power of storytelling not just to touch and transform individual lives, but hopefully to contribute to international dialogue.

As ever, what makes this production special is the team of talent and people behind the films. SDI is a happy home of filmmakers, and we keep attracting new collaborators like bees to honey. We may work long hours, we may not be well paid, but we go home with a fuzzy feeling. Let’s hope it will be shared with our audience.

Film 1: Dark Skies by Anne Milne

Film 2: Sweetie and Sunshine by Will Anderson

Film 3: Promenade by Alice Nelson

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