The inspiration for Samuel Bradley’s collaboration with Norse Projects came to him on a clifftop in Cumbria in December of last year. From his lodgings in a little cliff-top caravan, Samuel took a picture of a neighbour and his dog. “The sky was heavy, oppressive, barely any light,” Samuel recalls wistfully. “When I got a test print back from my lab, it had this amazing range of charcoal grey tones, more like a sketch than a photograph.” Since that moment on the clifftop, Samuel has been looking for a project on which to experiment with this overcast, atmospheric lighting. Norse Projects’ timeless A/W21 collection, a brand with its roots in the moody climes of Scandinavia “seemed like the right fit.”
The film follows the adventures of one model, Grace, as he picks his way through the rocky terrain of two islands in Scotland. These shots are accompanied by an ambient soundscape that blends the moving harmonies of a Scottish Gaelic choir, the electronic music of Mount Kimbie and environmental sound clips taken during filming. It was shot between two island locations in Scotland. Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull might be recognised by the film buffs among our readers as the home of Sean Connery in the film Entrapment. Not ringing any bells? Perhaps you’ll recognise the Isle of Easedale, which, as Samuel points out, is famed for hosting the world stone-skimming championships… As he continues to describe Easdale, where the majority of the film was shot, Samuel’s own adventurous spirit becomes increasingly clear: “The land is made up of lots of old slate quarry pits that have filled with water. It takes about half an hour to walk from one side of the island to the other. You could swim there from the mainland if you had a mind to.”
In fact, Samuel did a fair bit of his own exploring in search of field recordings for the film, “trampling around on rocky beaches, recording birds, and the ocean etc.” These were blended with sound clips from Mount Kimbie, which lends the beginning of the film an exciting, quickened heart-beat-like pace. This tempo, combined with sporadic crashes of waves and bird calls, elegantly evokes that feeling you get when you’ve just hiked up a steep hill – heart-rate slamming, hurriedly gasping for air. But what really stands out for It’s Nice That, is the use of the soul-stirring harmonies provided by the Mull-based Gaelic choir. While the team had originally recorded the choir singing ‘An t Eilean Muileach (an Ode To Mull), at the end of the day, Samuel asked the choir to walk through the landscape, singing a song of their own choice. They chose Sine Bhan, a song “about a man having to go to war and leave his love behind,” Samuel explains. He adds: “it was less relevant than the original song choice but the recording has this beautiful quality due to the fact that they’re passing a fixed mic. So we went with that.”
Samuel’s interest in old traditions and customs as a subject for photography shines through with his careful work with the choir. A strong sense of place is summoned by the music sung by people who live in the very landscape that forms the backdrop of the film. The resulting soundscape, which feels deeply connected to the land, is complemented by shots of locals and passers-by that Samuel met whilst filming. We love the opening of the film, which features a little boy Samuel met on the day. The boy, swamped by the cosy folds of a Norse Projects “Birnir Fairisle” knitted jumper, haltingly describes the view from his perch on a windy clifftop.
Despite this brilliant sense of place, and the feeling of involvement the viewer gets as we follow the adventures of the model through the landscape, Samuel says that he did little planning ahead of filming in terms of setting out a narrative. Instead, he brought it all together through editing, a process which he likens to an “archaeological dig.” He continues: “You know there’s something special in there but you have to remove a lot of dirt to get at it. As you get closer and closer, the pieces you dig out get smaller and smaller until eventually, you have this really fragile thing.” While Samuel warns that this meticulous digging process can often fall to pieces, we are glad to see that in this case, it didn’t. The many individually-crafted elements come together in the film to create an intensely moving viewing experience whilst perfectly portraying the adventurous aesthetic and ethos of Norse Projects.
GalleryNorse Projects AW21 Campaign (Copyright © Samuel Bradley, 2021)
Norse Projects AW21 Campaign (Copyright © Samuel Bradley, 2021)
About the Author
Elfie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in November 2021 after finishing an art history degree at Sussex University. She is particularly interested in creative projects which shed light on histories that have been traditionally overlooked or misrepresented.