Trust releases new lockdown film ‘The Mountains are Calling’

Our new short film hopes to inspire support for wild places as we begin to rebuild from Covid-19

The mountains are calling film image detail

Working with filmmaker Euan Robinson, the Trust has produced a new short film which asks six walkers, runners and climbers to recall a special day in the hills. The film was made entirely during lockdown and hopes to inspire others to take direct action for wild places and join the Trust as a member, as we look ahead to meet environmental challenges under a ‘new normal’.

Euan spoke to poet, runner and climber Helen Mort, mountaineers Alan Hinkes and Tom Livingstone, Mountain Leader and Ramblers Scotland President Lucy Wallace, and owners of the Walkhighlands website Helen and Paul Webster. It’s a short, fun and emotive film, with each mountaineer remembering fondly what makes wild places so vital and important for them.

Watch the film

The making of 'The Mountains are Calling'

Euan Robinson

Euan Robinson is a creative filmmaker based in Scotland and working all over the world. He previously worked in politics and the humanitarian sector before setting up his own production company six years ago.

We turned the tables on Euan as he completed the edit and asked him a few questions about the process:

How long did the project take?

The film required a quick turnaround from idea to delivery because it is a response to lockdown. Events have moved so rapidly over the last few weeks, there was always the risk that it would take too long to create. We were fortunate that all those involved were very responsive and enthusiastic about taking part, which helped us pull everything together in time. From the Trust presenting me with the initial idea to the launch has probably taken three weeks which is pretty good going!

Tell us about the concept behind the film

The Trust had the idea of a film based around the old parlour game 'Consequences' where each person finishes a sentence written on a piece of paper - I can't claim any credit for it, but like all good ideas it evolved over time. I think at its core it was just a nice concept to let interesting people talk openly and with passion about why they love being in the hills and to pull out the little details that hopefully might resonate with the viewer.

The most enjoyable part of the process was having such awesome conversations with the mountaineers involved. Without exception they were lovely people to spend a bit of time chatting with.

You have worked with humanitarian and development charities before – was this any different?

This project has been very different in that I didn’t turn on my camera at all! All of the interviews and footage was recorded over video conferencing software, so while it might not win any awards for cinematography, it has reminded me that my filmmaking approach is built around capturing honest moments and building a narrative around that.

It's been different from the humanitarian film work in that I did it all from my studio office in Dunkeld rather than having to fly halfway around the world which has been nice!

What were the particular challenges of making the film during lockdown?

Lots of projects benefit from a few creative restrictions and lockdown has certainly challenged filmmakers to think differently. As somebody who makes films it can be easy to obsess about new equipment and to convince yourself that you need X, Y or Z camera to make something good. It’s brought home to me that simple and inexpensive ideas can work if the storytelling is strong enough. I would still like a new camera though.

What is the take home message of the film for you?

I am really hoping that we learn to do a much better job of valuing and prioritising the environment and wild places around us. The value of these places to us all has become even more apparent during lockdown and it has been exciting to see nature recover and reclaim a little space for itself, in such a short space of time.

I know that there will be an almighty battle for the 'lessons learned' from lockdown, but I’d love to see biodiversity, the environment and wildness really championed over the coming months. Hopefully the film will remind us all about our deeply felt connections with these places and encourage more people to join in the recovery.

Nature needs you. Please consider becoming a member of the John Muir Trust.