A year of filming, a year of editing and the result is The Turning of a Year, a unique snapshot of Finzean from harvest 2008 to harvest 2009.
This very special DVD diary has been a community project in every way reflecting life in the Deeside community of Finzean.
“Angus and Alison Farquharson asked me to suggest some ideas on how to celebrate their family’s 400th anniversary on Finzean, which happened to co-incide with the Homecoming in 2009,” explained award-winning broadcaster and documentary maker, Frieda Morrison. “I suggested making a video diary of the community during the build up and the year of the event.”
Frieda has lived in the Finzean area for many years. She’s an award-winning journalist and broadcaster with more than 26 years experience of producing programmes for BBC Scotland. During her years producing and presenting radio and television programmes, she has earned the reputation of being one of the country’s most successful broadcasters, winning a Green Bafta and a New York Media Festival Award for her documentaries.
The Finzean project was unlike anything she had tackled before when work began on it in October 2008.
“Angus was my second grip in the first few weeks, but he had other commitments and he was still Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire at the time,” she recalled, adding that this was her first time behind the camera. “I eventually got the hang of it.”
The Turning of a Year was created in music, words and song and records the changing seasons, the folks and their festivities from the farmers’ ball to fireworks and hogmany to harvest thanksgiving. There are interviews with residents who have lived in Finzean all their days as had their forebears, with those who returned to visit during that year, and with in-aboot comers who have been absorbed into the community. And there’s music. Fiddler Paul Anderson is there and so is Finzean resident and bothy ballad king Hector Riddell. Frieda wrote the music which accompanies the stunning footage of the spectacular countryside through the seasons and one tune is dedicated to the late Ab Littlejohn whose contribution to the film is so special.
“We recorded some of the music in my house. One of the rooms has excellent acoustics and invited some of the best musicians in Scotland, many of who live locally, to participate,” Frieda said. “If you mix Paul Anderson with four part harmony singers, a whistle player and an autoharp player you get a rather special result.”
Another very special feature of the DVD is the amazing quality of light which Frieda captured, as did Joseph Farquharson, an ancestor of the present Farquharson family and a well-known artist whose work remains a favourite Christmas card scene.
A sense of community runs throughout the DVD. “Because the Year of the Homecoming happened to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Farquharsons of Finzean it was decided to celebrate the occasion by inviting as many people as possible who had been to Finzean school to a garden party at Finzean House,” Angus explained. “400 attended, including some members of the Clan Farquharson Association. A concert in Finzean Hall, a thanksgiving service in Finzean Church and a family picnic were also held to mark a very special weekend. People attended from all over the world and it was all recorded for the DVD.”
There’s something very touching about the finished film and most people who have seen it find themselves welling up at the affectionate look at a genuinely close-knit community. However it is not a sentimentalised, rose-tinted one of a community set in aspic. The school role is healthy, there are flourishing businesses such as the farm shop and the water mill. But there is also the feel-good factor so often associated with Sunday-evening television programmes.
While devoting two years of her life to this project, Frieda also completed an MSc in management at the Robert Gordon University Business School and produced a CD of her own songs.
The DVD will be launched at a gathering in Finzean on November 19 and will be on sale in the farm shop, price £15.
“The finished result is a personal triumph and will become a classic of its kind,” predicts Angus Farquharson.