Weathered Pitch

WEATHERED PITCH

 

Joanna is a strong-willed girl, fast approaching adulthood. Her best friend is her dog, Pup and her only form of escape is on a rusty motorbike that she spends her time fixing up. Jo wants to leave her family farm in the rural Scottish Highlands behind to go to college and become a mechanic. Her dad, Robbie is an old-fashioned, conservative farmer. He holds onto the grief and guilt cause by the death of Jo’s mother and slowly turns that into anger towards Jo’s passion. After years of trying to please her dad, Jo seeks independence, forever.

 
 
Photos provided by our good friend, Richard Gaston.

Photos provided by our good friend, Richard Gaston.

 

NOTES FROM THE WRITER...

 
This story started when my father stopped phoning me every Sunday.

Like Joanna’s father, Robbie; I’ve watched my own father become consumed by isolation and loneliness - rather than seeking comfort in his family, he unknowingly pushes them away further. I lived with my dad in an alien country, he lacked the gentle and sympathetic approach, which my mother had, to parenting a teenage girl. Missing my friends and family I decided to return home after a year, leaving him there alone.  Living over 2000 miles away for more than 10 years now, my dad struggles to connect with his three daughters as we become more independent in our adult lives.

We chose to situate Weathered in the Scottish Highlands to represent the isolation and the disconnection uncovered in this complex father/daughter relationship. Because of this, the location plays a large role in the story and becomes a character itself. As Jo reaches adulthood, Robbie becomes selfishly concerned about her moving away from the family farm and leaving him behind, alone. They are unable to connect with each other and the secluded location only amplifies this.

From a young age I began writing short stories and using creative writing as my voice. I was a shy and relatively reserved child but when I realised a story could make people happy, sad or entertained, I used them as a window in (and out of) my world. I discovered the potential of scriptwriting in my first year of university and chose this as my speciality subject thereon. Writing films based on experiences far removed from my own life is something I love to do, although the films I feel develop the best are the ones I can pour my heart and soul into, like Weathered.

I use a subtle minimalistic approach to tell an authentic story and find poetic meaning in everyday life. Often depicting moments of mundane life, punctuated by only truly necessary dialogue and beats; keeping the pace slow until the story peaks and turns. I enjoy telling stories relatable on a primal and emotional level which challenge the binaries we create for ourselves.

Collaborating with the director, Ross, gives me the opportunity to step back from my own personal affiliation to the story and characters and embrace a different perspective while developing the script. Ross has also been an onlooker into my life and the unravelling relationship between my father and I for over 4 years. He‘s able to take away a unique observation and an understanding from both points of view and can harbour this while directing our actors.

I’m excited to have this opportunity to develop our film with the help of the Scottish Film and Talent Network, who I believe can help us utilise this story to it’s absolute potential. We want to tell this story to encapsulate the very human experience shared between men and their children. Putting our heads together, I feel confident Ross and I, with the help of an incredible team, can create a beautiful film that will resonate with many people.

- Gabrielle Ginns

 
 

CHARACTERS

Photo by Richard Gaston

Photo by Richard Gaston

JOANNA / JO

A strong-minded, determined girl. Joanna was forced to grow up quickly after a horse-riding accident took her mother's life. Her best friend is her dog, Pup. She often escapes from her everyday life on a rusty old motorbike, which takes her on journeys in search of solitude. Her dream is to become a mechanic and leave behind the family farm and her reclusive father.

Peter Mullan in Hector 2015

Peter Mullan in Hector 2015

ROBBIE

A livestock farmer with relatively little life experience outside of his inherited rural farm. Robbie has rough, weathered skin, hard eyes and callus hands - reflecting a lifetime of strenuous work in the often harsh climate of the Highlands. He is a simple man, too proud to display emotions or let down his guard. His built up anger from the loss of his wife causes tension between him and his daughter, Jo. He pushes her away when he needs her the most.

 

STORY OUTLINE

 

JO drives her motorbike through an isolated valley, wet air lingers between the ethereal fog and the evening twilight. She comes to a halt near a large fallen tree and grounds both her feet before climbing off the bike. An animal whimpers as Jo creeps closer. Nestled between the large roots of the tree is PUP, an anxious dog. Jo sets down her helmet and Pup’s tail wags to see her. She scoops him up and sets off for home.

When Jo and Pup arrive back to the farm, ROBBIE is in the distance. A large rifle hangs from the back of his jeans and his sleeves are rolled up, hands covered in dirt and blood. A pig squeals loudly, out of sight. As Jo and Pup walk towards the house, a gunshot echoes around them and the squealing stops.

Inside, Jo and Robbie eat their dinner in silence. Pup innocently begs for food under Jo’s feet. Robbie demands the dog is put outside before threatening to kick it. Jo takes her unfinished plate to the sink and leaves the room, Pup follows her.

During the day, Jo fixes up her motorbike with tools she's gathered from the shed. Robbie returns from the farm for water, his lips are chapped from the cold wind. As he passes Jo he comments on what she's doing wrong. He reminds her that her mother used to always forget to change the oil, they struggle to make eye contact when he mentions her mother's name. Pup cowers as Robbie walks by.

Jo and Pup explore the local wilderness together. They walk along the edge of a loch, pine trees stand tall around them. Jo's long hair dances around in the wind. Pup stays close by her. Sticks crack and leaves crunch underneath their feet.

The night sky is brightly lit by the full moon as Jo and Pup approach the house from a distance, the dim light of her bike follows the bumpy, winding path. Pup runs alongside her bike.

Jo and Robbie have a heated discussion over her leaving for college. She confronts him on his faults as a father and blames him for her mother's death, wishing it was him.

Robbie takes out his anger on Pup until Pup eventually escapes.

Jo runs away. She leaves behind a photo of her mum on her dad's bed and his rifle gun besides it.

Jo rides past open fields and through the valley. She drives up towards a horse in the distance. When Jo reaches the horse they begin to race. Jo's bike reaches full speed when she see's her Mum is riding on the horse alongside her. They leave the farm far behind them.
-
End

 
 
Photo by Richard Gaston

Photo by Richard Gaston

 

NOTES FROM THE DIRECTOR...

 
This film takes a very personal relationship and makes it universal.

The writer and myself have had ideas for these characters mulling around for a few years now, notions of a similar storyline or a character dynamic would come and go. Then, after a road trip around the Highlands last summer, the story became cemented for us both there and then and we knew exactly how it needed to be told. Joanna’s story became clear and our passion for Weathered has only grown stronger since.

Using the characters as our starting point, we knew the location could add an extra dimension to the theme of isolation, which is prominent throughout the film. Much like the rural farm setting, Robbie bares a tough exterior. His weathered skin, hard eyes and callus hands show a lifetime of work with little payoff. Life for him is black and white. Joanna has naivety and youth on her side, she’s headstrong but her empathic nature fights against this.

Families don’t always get along and the often complex relationship many fathers have with their children is overlooked. Rather than another film about a father and daughter learning to bond, we wanted to give Jo the empowerment to take the story into her own hands, to go on a journey of independence and self-discovery.

I wanted to respect the situation our main character, Joanna, finds herself in. By taking her on a path where she finds the courage to overcome her greatest obstacle and remove the emotional weight of her father from her conscience, we give the audience a glimpse into an important period of the characters life.

Over the years I have built up a strong working relationship with cinematographer Jasper Khadjenouri. We share a common visual style and we both agree that no frame of storytelling should be wasted and each shot should be deliberate and carefully constructed to push the story and themes forward.

My vision as a director is to look at a piece of the human condition and tell a story where the fictional world we create is as close to real life as possible. The characters I create and direct are based on fascinating people that I have come across. In my short film Grace, the main protagonist and concept for the story was adapted from a Jeremy Kyle segment. A real woman who had lost her partner and her method of grieving was to sleep with someone else. By using a real life scenario as a base, then converting it to a story that could be absurdly believable. 

My ambition to tell this story can only grow stronger. Working with SFTN would remove any of the restraints holding us back from making this film and your guidance will be forever valued. I’m confident we can create something we will be absolutely proud of.

- Ross Gillespie

 
 

Location

Distance.jpg

SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

The location plays an important role in this story and the characters' lives. The rugged and weather-beaten land reflects the people who live in our film's world. The setting is stark and gloomy. Whether it's the faded green grass or snowy white peaks on the towering Munros, this is contrasted with moonlight blue hues and the warm embers of light which leak through the farmhouse windows.

Photos by Richard Gaston

Photos by Richard Gaston

 
 

RECENT WORK

 

In search of her brother, Gemma returns to her hometown 15 years after running away. After arriving, she is quickly forced to confront her past.

This is our most recent film and is still in post-production. We made Erskine in just 3 weeks, from the story concept, writing the screenplay, casting actors and location scouting to the current rough cut you see here. Shooting over 3 days with just 3 crew members and 5 cast members (plus a baby on set), on location in Old Kilpatrick and the Erskine Bridge and with ZERO budget. We pushed all of our limits to make this film in a short amount of time, with very little resources at our disposal. In the process we worked with some great actors and had absolute fun testing ourselves as filmmakers.

Director - Ross Gillespie
Writer & Editor - Gabrielle Ginns
Director of Photography - Jasper Khadjenouri
Production: Pretend Lovers
Running time - (unfinished)
Budget - £0


 

 
 

Grace's unique perspective on death makes the relationship between her and her terminally ill partner more intense. As time passes, they become more dependant on each other until ultimately she is left grieving.

For Ross' graduate film Grace he was awarded 'Best Director' and the film picked up the 'Best Film' award, presented by National Film and Television School director Nik Powell. 

Director - Ross Gillespie
Director of Photography - Jasper Khadjenouri
Production: University of Gloucestershire
Running time: 10:31
Budget: £1,000

 
 

THE TEAM

GABRIELLE GINNS

After completing her Film Production degree at UoG, Gabrielle moved from her hometown outside of London to Glasgow. Since then, she's had to purchased a raincoat and broken many umbrellas. She hoards nice notebooks but never writes in them, instead, she covers every surface of her flat in post-it notes.

ROSS GILLESPIE

Ross was raised in the peaceful countryside on the West coast of Scotland. He moved to Glasgow after graduating with a Film Production degree in the South West of England. He takes his coffee black and his toast burnt. Ross' film set motto is "live and die by the tape" - his personal favourite is duct.

 

JASPER KHADJENOURI

If you squint your eyes you can almost see his face...
Jasper couldn't be with us to take his photo as he's currently in California (dual-nationality). When he comes to visit, he has his very own room under our stairs! He's a cinematographer and lighting extraordinaire.