A SUNDERLAND graduate and French film-maker based in the North East is showing her sheepish side after filming a portrait of the remote, challenging work of sheep-farming in the Pennines.
Magali Pettier has been filming sheep in the Pennines for the past 18 months and is now editing more than 60 hours of footage with an Upper Teesdale tenant farmer, his family and their flock.
The photography, video and digital imaging graduate is aiming to show a couple’s emotional commitment to their work and their school-age children in her documentary, Addicted to Sheep. She also hopes to reflect their bond with the landscape and the quest for an ever-better flock of Swaledale sheep.
Magali grew up on her family’s farm in Brittany and knows how the work can be so demanding and relentless in all weathers, with a limited financial reward. Having based herself in the UK since completing her course in Sunderland, Addicted to Sheep has been her longest-running independent film and aims to show the feature-length documentary at festivals during 2014-15 after editing the masses of footage.
She shot day-to-day life over the seasons after meeting Tom and Kay Hutchinson and their three school-age children on the Raby Estate in County Durham and nothing was staged. All the action shows the farm routine, lambing on the Estate and much more.
Magali, said: “I was brought up on a dairy farm in Brittany and always wanted to raise the profile of farmers. I wanted to help them gain the respect I felt they deserved. I always had a fascination with the sense that we walk in the footsteps of others who have lived these lives before. In France, tenant farmers are part of the past, and when I found out that they still existed here I was intrigued to know why anyone would opt for this lifestyle when their future may seem so uncertain.
“The University of Sunderland course has helped me to become very attentive to detail and to always look for the perfect image. It also taught me that it is not just about the visual but about the story and the people you choose to tell that story. It has put me in a good position to cover a range of topics over the years.”
The Sunderland graduate has attracted significant industry recognition for the quality and ambition of her project. She had upfront funding and mentoring from Northern Film and Media after a competitive pitch at the UK’s premiere event for documentary makers – Sheffield Independent Documentary Film Festival. The Emmy and BAFTA Award- winning director Patrick Collerton has also praised her cinematography.
Magali is now editing her documentary into a feature-length film between 60 to 80 minutes. For the final editing stages, she is inviting like-minded donors who have an interest in the film-making process to help bring attention to an exceptional way of life for a typical farming family.
To finish the four-year project, Magali needs to raise £7,000 and is seeking for sponsorship through the film’s website before the end of April. For more information about the film, Addicted to Sheep, visit: http://www.addictedtosheep.com/supportus/