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Short: Blackthorn

A foray into documentary for this week’s Filmed Up short, Blackthorn‘s arresting cinematography and composition make for memorable scenes that stay with you for a long time.

“An enthralling and hypnotic documentary which is the perfect partnership of visuals and voiceover. What could have been a very dry short film is an honest and captivating treatise on masculinity, heritage, and nature.” – Ryan Lee Gregory, Filmed Up Panel Member

  • Synopsis

Sam Robinson plies the thousand-year-old craft of dry stone walling in Cumbria, working in all weathers to make and maintain the lie of the land. His philosophy is one of protest, pride and authenticity – the counter-vision to a Britain bound in consumerism, the people removed from the work that once grounded their communities.

For Sam, resistance is the honesty of work and words.

    • To access the film

The film link will open on Vimeo. The film is rated PG but please note there is description of the death of an animal.

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  • About the filmmaker / the team

Blackthorn Director Dom Bush runs a production company with his partner Helen in Cumbria called Land & Sky. As a Producer/Director team they create film work for brands and charities, particularly focussing on social and environmental projects.

In 2019 Land & Sky produced a short for Guardian Documentaries called Nowt but a Fleeting Thing about a farming family in the Rusland Valley in Cumbria.

Dom and Helen are currently making a documentary with a travelling circus who were stranded on the sea front in Morecambe in Lancashire during the first Coronavirus lock down.

  • How did the film come about

Blackthorn was a commission for BFI/Doc Society through the Made of Truth fund, which supports short documentary films by emerging directors.

Dom says ‘I grew up in a rural community in Cumbria, and now live in Kendal, on the border of The Lake District. There is a healthy creative scene here, and many people work the land in some way. The Lake District landscape is such a big part of our lives so most of us feel deeply connected to it. It is rich in tradition and folklore, and I wanted to make a film that blended those elements – my friend Sam was the perfect protagonist!

We shot much of Blackthorn in the landscape around Kendal and South Lakeland, and the interior scenes and music were filmed at Sprint Mill, one of the oldest water mills in Cumbria where we often hold gatherings and gigs. The film went through many iterations and thematic changes. In the end we boiled it down to it’s most critical parts and were left with something mysterious and somewhat enigmatic. That seemed pretty fitting for the subject matter.

This was a collaborative work between producer, director, our editor Simon Sylvester (who also edited Nowt but a Fleeting Thing) and of course, Sam.