A journey without a map

In June we joined a lively WWF-backed study tour of Uganda to learn about the evolving role of plantation forests in supporting local and national economies to fulfil sustainable development goals, while creating a buffer for more vulnerable indigenous forests. 

While documenting the tour we produced A Journey Without a Map, a short film exploring the interplay between small outgrower foresters, communities, multinationals and NGOs as they embrace a tradition that may hold the key to preventing total forest loss.

With half the population under 20 years old, Uganda has an insatiable pride and optimism about where it’s heading as a country. As its population reaches tipping point - how it’s citizens and leaders will funnel that energy and hope is something we wanted to learn more about.

The film has already screened to policy makers at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi during the Global Landscapes Forum in August. After some brilliant exposure on the UNEP Twitter feed, please keep an eye on the WWF IGTV channel for the digital launch of our film in December, along with social media friendly edits hitting your Instagram feeds soon.

There’s a lot we couldn’t squeeze into our edit - including our encounter with a humble Pastor and nursery owner who gives tree saplings away to his 400-strong communion each week... However we're confident that we’ll be back to do these inspiring examples of humanity and innovation justice, as Uganda attempts to lead itself away from the total loss of forest projected for 2050. 

Uganda pre-production

We've been knee deep in pre-production preparing to shoot a short documentary for WWF in Uganda.

We hope to make the most of our 10 days in East Africa this June learning about the role that plantation forestry and communities can play in supporting sustainable development and wildlife conservation across the country.

The work of NGOs, governments and communities is paying off. Surveys revealed this week show that the endangered Mountain Gorilla in Uganda is on the rise, the only great ape in the world believed to be increasing in numbers.

While we don’t expect to see any gorillas but we are hoping to see plenty of trees, despite statistics that suggest Uganda is set to lose all forest cover by 2050. Watch this space.

Recording Scotland's Urban Past

We’re applying the finishing touches to several short films for Historic Environment Scotlandthat run through the basics of employing photography, oral history, and surveying in heritage projects.

The idea is to encourage people to have a go themselves at recording their urban environments. Supporting the project our in-house Motion Graphics artist, Christine, created some brilliant informational call-outs (above). They’ll be hitting the new Scotland’s Urban Past website when it launches.

New horizons for our filmmakers

Over the last few years Melt has become a key supplier of engaging factual films for Scotland's third, private and public sectors. This work is supported by a team of talented professionals spanning the sector.

Melt founder James Thomson and DOP Thomas Hogben are completing a 6-month programme led by the Scottish Documentary Institute with emerging filmmakers from across the UK. The programme features producer and former Head of Documentary at Arte, Thierry Garrel (below), and leading Storytelling Consultant and Editor, Susan Brand

Continuing this momentum, we're excited to announce that our work with the Scottish Crofting Federation will enter the Ullapool Museum collection.  Engineered by Thomas Telford in 1829, the museum is an important focal point for the planned fishing village of Ullapool, and we look forward to seeing our film on display here when it reopens in April.

With some interesting new projects on the horizon, we're also expanding our team in 2017 with the inclusion of a talented local DOP, and sound designer. So if you think you've got a brief that fits with our work, we'd love to hear from you.

Sunshine over Kincardine

Coalfields Regeneration Trust Scotland has been actively working in several of Fife’s coalmining villages and towns for a number of years, leading projects and events that give people a greater say in how their place evolves.

We were commissioned by CRT to document one of their lively 4-day charrettes held in the excellent town of Kincardine, Fife. Famous for it’s bridge, it is also the birthplace of Thermos vacuum flask inventor, James Dewar.

Tucked away in the corner of Fife but with great transport links, Kincardine has a strong identity, social connectedness and civic pride. Perched on the Firth of Forth, it's charm is visible from the sky - a vantage point that will hopefully assist residents, architects and planners to take stock of the town as it grows.

The waterfront by the bridge became the focus of Place Standard surveys and dialogue led by Oliver Chapman Architects. Currently hemmed in by the railway track fence, many folk in the community want to open up the waterfront, creating places for local people and tourists alike to get out and experience it. 

Oliver’s team also explored different ways to better connect and signpost local assets, including Devilla Forest, RSPB Skinflats reserve, and Longannet, Scotland’s last remaining coal-fired power station which is due to be demolished next year. We''ll be watching with interest to see how Kincardine evolves from here. 

Thank you to the community for welcoming us in, and to our drone pilot, Pete Maughan, for flying us around Kincardine safely on such a nice day.

Study tour learns from UK forestry

We’ve just wrapped up a busy week of filming for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), taking us from the impressive Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation up to Edinburgh Castle, through to the several stunning Forestry Commission Scotland sites in Perthshire. 

The week long study tour was organised by the New Generation Plantations platform (NGP). Led by WWF the NGP team are celebrating a decade of driving fairer, more sustainable forestry operations throughout the world.

It was an international affair with attendance from every corner of the world - Brazil, Peru, Tanzania, Uganda, Laos, Russia, Australia. Probably the largest and most animated delegation came from China, who are set to become the major player in the sector. 

Our primary role in the process was to observe and capture dialogue during and between workshops that make these encounters so valuable. We were supported in that process by sound designer Dee O'Leary, camera operator Thomas Hogben, and experienced drone pilot Pete Maughan. 

Conversations circled on the importance of productive woodland for carbon sequestration, developing a risk-based approach to landscape management, forest fires, and the potential of large-scale precision forestry. Many of the sessions were 'open agenda' and led by attendees, which was refreshing to see. 

Crofting in North West Scotland

We’re just back from an inspiring few days of filming around Ullapool with the very warm company of the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF). 

We are producing a short film about SCF’s new programme of education for 2016-19 and another film introducing their vision and role.

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Rural depopulation, availability of land to convert to crofts, and the withdrawal of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funded by the European Union paint a stormy picture for crofting as an industry and way of life. 

Yet crofting is an alternative to the plugged-in cities that most of us call home. It’s a life spent mostly outdoors (very often in the rain), that builds your physical and mental endurance in equal measure. Resilience, human spirit, friendship, family, community and a determination to exist all combine to make crofting an inspiring symbol of defiance.

Where it lacks in financial reward, crofting delivers in fresh food and friendship. So if you want to learn a practical set of skills, from sheep shearing to horticulture, why not give it a shot?

Self-directed Support

This week we ventured out to the west coast with WEA Scotland and Carr Gomm to film a handful of people that have chosen to receive care through Self-directed Support (SDS).

Following a day's filming in Oban, our skipper and his beautiful Border Collie took us across to Lismore, an island with a modest but growing population of around 200 people.

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On arrival we were greeted by a farmer turned taxi-driver who dropped us off at Liz's house. Liz is a survivor of Thalidomide poisoning and has limited use of both her arms. While this affects Liz's independence, she remains active and resilient in her retirement, with plans to circumnavigate Lismore's 28 mile coastline on her pedal powered kayak.

Through the guidance and support of Community Contacts at Carr Gomm, Liz was recently enabled to employ a local Personal Assistant (PA) called Eva to help her out with various tasks and activities in and around the house.

Eva, who lives a short walk away, joins a growing band of PAs contracted by someone in their neighbourhood to provide routine support and companionship. For Liz and Eva, this often involves assistance with the housework and a chat over a home-cooked meal.

The short films that Melt are producing with the Personal Assistants Network Scotland and Community Contacts will talk about the stories of several Personal Assistants and the people that they support.