The hardest thing was keeping on filming once the result was known. I was exhausted and devastated and about to give birth.
This Fri 22 Sep, we’re delighted to be screening Jane McAllister’s riveting and intimate portrait of the 2014 campaign for Scottish independence.
Ahead of welcoming Jane to the screening for an in-person Q+A, we asked her about the genesis of the film, the challenge in making it and how it lands today.
How did To See Ourselves come to life initially?
I didn’t plan to make this film at all, I was just helping my Dad to record some meetings for YouTube, getting back behind the camera after having my first child. When I put the radio mic on him however, I couldn’t help but being sucked into his world. What interested me wasn’t the meetings but the physical effort and faff around putting them on. I could see this tension between holding an ideal, a high principle in front of you while colliding with the reality of everyday life. And I wanted to explore that further.
Tell us about the challenges you faced in the process of making it.
Obviously being pregnant wasn’t ideal for a self-shooter. So physically is was challenging. But I enjoyed being so immersed in the history that was happening in front of me. Dad’s position in the community gave me access to the heart of the campaign and I was just swept up in the hope and joy of that, like many people were. The hardest thing was keeping on filming once the result was known. I was exhausted and devastated and about to give birth.
We should be proud of what we all achieved in 2014
How did you arrive at the title of the film?
There have been many versions of this film. I completed a 6 part documentary series before making this feature called How to Lose a Referendum. I do hope to release it at some point. I still like that title - it is more about how you take the defeat I think, but there is also a challenge to learn lessons.
To See Ourselves fits the feature film because this is about community and all voices being given time and space to be heard. You don’t see this kind of depiction of Scottish culture, society and politics on the screen often and I think this film holds up a mirror for us. Also, the humanity and democratic sentiment of Robert Burns’ poetry and songs resonate with this film, as they do with the people of Scotland.
How do you think the film lands today in the current Scottish political climate?
While it has been very hard for me to find a way to get this film in front of an audience and I would have wished for this to have happened sooner, I think the timing is quite right. There is enough distance to reflect with a gentle understanding of what the referendum meant to both sides. It is important to remember, especially in this most fractious time we live in now, that the 2014 independence referendum was vibrant, engaging and peaceful. People of all persuasions felt they had agency, their opinion mattered. We should be proud of what we all achieved in 2014.
Jane McAllister is a maker of creative, observational documentary films for cinema and television. She directs and edits her own work producing a distinct blend of compassionate, humorous and poetic stories.
Her films to date have won critical acclaim and awards including the Full Frames President’s Award and Chicago Film Festivals’ Silver Hugo for best short documentary.