The more I work, the less often a project comes around that surprises me. That is, until this past July. I got the call to shoot for a couple days at the Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain, NC for BBC Scotland. They are producing a short for documentary on the Highland Games, and this being one chapter in their story. Lets just say, this peaked my interests.
First off, let me geek out a minute on how much fun it is to shoot things like this. It’s a documentary, which means you need to shoot great footage and plenty of it. There is no flash in documentaries, at least not good ones. I love the challenge of a documentary because you need to provide coverage of so many things, but it also needs to be creative and interesting. Have you ever seen a documentary with boring b-roll. If so, did you stay awake longer than 20 minutes, cause I’ll bet you didn’t. Not to mention I got to shoot on the Sony F900r. Not that I don’t love my solid state cameras, but the F900r shoots HD the way it was meant to be shot. No rolling shutter. No over saturated colors. No crushed blacks. Just pretty, natural, vibrant colors.
Second, have you even been to a Highland Games? It was awesome! Once you can get past the constant wailing of bagpipes, it really is an amazing event. They have stages where hundreds of little girls in the exact same outfit prance around in the dance competition. Each girl looks like a clone of the last one. I don’t know how their parents are able to tell them apart.
Next are the running events, which are basically the same as any high school track meet. I think this part is more tradition than anything because the only competitors seemed to be local high school and college track athletes happy to have a race in the summer off season. The best event are the throwing events!
They shouldn’t call them Throwers, they should call them Chuckers. Because every event was the same group of 10 guys picking up something heavy and chucking it in any given direction. I believe the liability waiver at these games only had one clause which stated, “If you get hit by something, it’s your own damn fault!” Between the hammer, (which literally is a sledge hammer) the stones (shot puts of varying weights) and the caber, something was flying in your direction at any given time. My favorite event was when they chuckers take a large burlap sack filled with who knows what, stick it with a pitch fork, and flip it up in the air as high as they can. It’s like they just made up that event on the spot Like bored children, making up the games as they go. “Well, we have this pitchfork. I bet I can use it to swing this sack up in the air higher than you!”
If you hadn’t noticed, I really could go on and on about this event. It was an absolute pleasure to attend, and to shoot. The people watching alone was worth the price of admission. Apparently some aren’t sure of the difference between the Highland Games and the Renaissance festival. But in the end, all are welcome at the Highland Games. It’s like how everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s day. Everyone is Scottish at the Highland Games.