Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ulster-Scots Broadcasting

Some of you will know that around Christmas 2010 I was invited to join Northern Ireland Screen's Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund (website here); a relevant BBC Northern Ireland web page from November 2011 outlining themes for commissioning is available here.

Many of you will have seen some of the programmes which have been made with financial support from the Fund; some of you may well be a bit more famous today due to having appeared in some of the programmes; or perhaps you've had your showreel/portfolio enhanced by being involved in making some of them.

This blog post is to invite feedback from anyone who has an opinion to share on the subject, so please email me if you have something to say, or better still post a comment below by clicking on the small blue 'Comments' text in the footer of this posting.

You can send me an email by using the first of the 'quicklinks' along the top of this page.

(NB: This is not an 'official' consultation process but is for my own interest only. I can however relay any specific feedback to the USBF Committee if you want me to do so, either anonymously or attributed).


An Aul Han said...

A year ago when I raised the issue of Ulster-Scots drama I was met with a series of responses ranging from bemusement to incredulity. Any meetings I attended would inevitably end by examining ways in which we could work around or fit in a screenplay. Ironically there does actually seem to be a demand for this type of product but no provisions in place to support it. At present it actually seems that the first piece of ulster-scots language drama written for the screen (small or big) may be funded agencies with no connections to the Ulster-Scot community. Therefore I was wondering if you knew of the current situation regarding drama? Are attitudes changing? Are there provisions being discussed? This is a product which could reach 10s of thousands. In my opinion it's too important to simply overlook.

Robert Campbell said...

Firstly I must express a personal interest in this subject, so a lot of what I have to say either comes from experience or exasperation, so it may slightly off topic but hopefully helpful. I think there are three questions that are primary to the production of Ulster Scots media, the what, the who, and the why.

A living culture cannot have some kind of moderator determining what is and what is not Ulster Scots. But there must be some kind of outline for what fits and what doesn’t. This must not be governed by (small p) political agendas. Ulster Scots is neither a response nor must it be a neutered construction with all the supposedly unpalatable bits taken out.

Who is to produce audio visual material? The obvious answer is those who can. So to produce material suitable for TV you need media companies that can do this. I remember coming home from filming one day – I’ve already admitted my interest – my kit was in the boot of my car with a few bits on the back seat. So driving along the M2 I overtook 7 trucks from the company filming “Game of Thrones.” There are horses for courses and the horses for TV production are few and far between. For whatever reason the arts are not on the radar of many (if not most) people who come from an Ulster Scots background. This means that ownership for most production most be given up to those who can from those who are. The home-grown ability to articulate our story should be increased so that it lives longer than the funding.

Why tell the story of the Ulster Scots people and their identity? Firstly, it is a story worth telling. Secondly, it is a living culture and therefore deserves its place on the stage – or should I say silver screen? Thirdly, the impact that former generations of Ulster Scots have had across the world should be highlighted. Fourthly, generally Ulster Scots don’t like to blow their own trumpet and the story could be missed. Finally, it is actually an interesting story to tell. These are just some of the reasons!

My observation is that we need to build a culture of production. We should have a constant eye on presenting our culture, giving a living legacy and not just leaving one! We may not have the facilities to be the actual maker but we can be the originator. It is good to contribute but it is better to construct. We have generally missed the TV boat over the years – it will be very hard to get on it, but we should try all the same – yet the new boat of social media and community broadcasting hasn’t been missed yet.