What is Skarnen?
SKARNEN is a short film being filmed entirely on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. It mixes elements from history and mythology with the outstanding landscape of Skye.
Sometime in the Dark Ages, a band of men traverse an empty wilderness, looking for what they call salvation. Along this journey they have to confront their own traumas, along with the imposing hostility of the land, a land that doesn't want them there.
Edrig, a young prince, leads them on this journey, this pilgrimage, to find a cure for the sickness that is sweeping through their homeland. They carry with them the body of Edrig’s father, the King, unable to bury him so far from his home. As the story progresses, Edrig’s grip on his surroundings is increasingly eroded and this bleeds out into the world around him. Edrig is driven by his need to live up to his deceased father, who to him is both King and parent. The pressure of expectation breeds anxiety and delusion. Living up to these expectations, of something that he arguably can never be, propels him forwards but it also blinds him to the events around him and into conflict with the wishes of his men.
Will you not speak to me now.
Skarnen is an on going collaboration between a number of people, coming together under a shared creative vision. Many months of work go into a project like this and it involves contributions from a diverse range of people.
The ethos behind this film is to work hard, fast and light, to capture the essence of the place and these characters, without weighing it down with lorry loads of kit and hundreds of people trekking across these beautiful sites. This is balanced by a desire to have the highest production values possible, across costume, props and the image.
The project is low budget, with the desire to maximise the production values on screen and every means possible will be used to make it as visually impactfull as possible. It is a tough environment to make a film in, but worth every hardship to get access to unique visuals. Such a great backdrop inspires the whole team to push every element of the film to its pinnacle. But ultimately, this is all in service to the story. We believe that this story is different to what you have seen short films do before. We believe that this is a story that will grip, excite, and move an audience in equal measure.
We know we have a great story to tell, and we want you to hear it.
I have wanted to make this film for a long time. It brings together many of my interests of landscape as character and stories in which the people in it are in danger of being subsumed by it. The landscape is an integral part of this story, magnifying the drama and being an externalisation of Edrig’s inner geography. This is why I have been committed to making this film on the Isle of Skye, utilising the expansive, isolating and brutal vistas to convey a lot of the atmosphere of the film, to portray the state of anxiety and rising tension that Edrig and his men feel, trapped in a hostile environment far from home.
I come from a visual arts background, specifically photography, and I tend to find the genesis of most of my writing comes from imagery. The image of a group of men trekking across Skye, whilst carrying a dead body, was such a strong picture in my mind that I knew I needed to write a film around it. Finding an emotional core, and an emotional language to sit at the heart of this took longer, and evolved through the writing process.
It is important that the characters look authentic to their backgrounds. While the film does not spell out a specific place and time, it is rooted in northern Europe in the dark ages. The costumes and the make-up need to sell the image that these are men who have travelled far and lived hard. Everything needs to feel worn and look like it has history. They need to be grounded in a reality of place, even as events unravel and the film takes on a somewhat allegorical feeling.
The photography will reflect my desire to give the film space and air. And to set against the immovable monolithic scenery, the unravelling characters, stuck in a boiler room of conflicting motivations and a lack of good options.
I wish for the audience to leave the film having experienced something beautiful, but also tragic, moved by Edrig’s lost cause and lost in the world created in the film.
Tim Archibald - Director