A shaman-like figure wandering the deserted landscapes of a future Scotland unwittingly releases a dormant power in the earth that possesses him and forces him to radically alter the land. Combining archival footage from the National Library of Scotland with improvised performance, Archivia lets landscape drive narrative in a film about the beguiling nature of power and industry's impact on memory and landscape.
Director & Concept - Ross A Wilson
Featuring - Jamie Robson
Executive Producer - Donna Enticknap
Genre - Experimental
Format - 16mm, Black & White
Completed Nov 2022
Official Archivia trailer
To become estranged from the land...
is to legitimise the power of those who own it.
Director Ross Wilson
A CONNECTION FOUND,
Among the films documenting the industry of Scotland in the 1950s I came across footage of Sorley MacLean, a legendary Scottish poet, talking about the Scottish clearances - thousands of people with hundreds of years of connection to the land forcibly removed from it to make way for private ownership and the wool industry some hundred years before.
This was the beginning of the industrial revolution which itself marked the beginning of the very capitalist systems that have lead us to the existential threat of climate breakdown. It became apparent that there is a direct link between the disconnection of people from the land and the present climate crisis.
The landscape drew me to it, to my Scottish heritage and the vistas that I'd known since a child. I'd become concerned about our estrangement from the land, the private ownership of so much of it at a time when our need to connect to nature has become ever more urgent. My plan was to journey into that landscape and let it tell its own story. It could all fail or something might happen.
Each journey produced more footage, which in turn revealed a part of a bigger picture. Jamie (Robson) who I'd worked with before, became part of that picture early on. He's the kind of actor who thrives in the 'now' and I remembered he had experience in expressive movement so I asked him onboard. He jumped. Directing him to feel the landscape and respond to it as I did with the camera, we let the landscape talk to us.
Something more began to emerge when I found stories about the areas we'd been shooting in the industrial films of the Scottish National Archive. I began to combine my footage with the archive material and a story took root.
"Archivia was found in the Scottish landscape, the memories connected to it, and the rock itself."
- Director Ross Wilson
ON THE ROAD
The film took us from the Scottish Borders and the historic geological site of Siccar Point to the northern most coast and some of the oldest rocks on the planet. Many times I would be alone shooting landscapes, other times it was just me and Jamie, but never more than four of us. It felt fitting our crew was so few, it meant having a smaller impact on the environment and allowed greater spontaneity. Often I’d pull over when I saw something that spoke to me and we’d jump out and start shooting. It would be weeks or even months later while editing that the purpose of that moment would reveal its place in the story.
A film by Ross Wilson featuring Jamie Robson • produced by Ross Wilson • executive producer Donna Enticknap • camera Ross Wilson • stills photography Donna Enticknap • editing & collage Ross Wilson • colourist Beth Woodruff • foley artist Dave Poulton • foley editor Sandy Buchanan • re-recording mixer Tom Melling • sound designer Joe O’Hallora • archival footage from Scotland’s Moving Image Archive • shot on location in Scotland • film development and scanning services Cinelab London • special thanks Louise Smith, Antonio Rasura, Stuart Cotton, The Kilmahew Education Trust • Theme Number Six by Pye Corner Audio from "Black Mill Tapes Vol 2" [Lapsus Records] Written & produced by Martin Jenkins • Tah Mulad, Tha Mulad recording by Alan Lomax, master rights & publishing Sony Music / Cultural Equality • presented by Hollow Mountain Films in association with React Films