Clíodhna - the Movie

It's a very special experience to not only watch a Fantasy movie in cinema but to actually get to produce one. Here's our shot at it - Clíodhna - the witch of Gleann an Phéine. It is set in a celtic-inspired world in a valley far in the North where the magic powers of the land are every-present, humans keep the old rituals alive, spirits roam the forest and an unconsidered step may quickly lead into the otherworld. Here, a young witch needs to get to know the villagers and protect them - sometimes from the consequences of their own actions - while learning to deal with the ancient powers of the valley herself.

The Valley

We imagine Gleann an Phéine as a broad, forest covered valley amid mighty mountain ranges, only reachable via a pass from the South, and in winter mostly cut-off from the rest of the world. The valley floor is large - perhaps a day's walk across, and covered by rolling hills and lakes.

Gleann an Phéine looking South

The epic beauty of the landscape is a major 'character' of the movie, and we try to capture it with video-compositing techniques where background imagery is merged with the foreground scene and additional elements might be brought in via bluescreen capture. The right mood of the scene and weather is a result of waiting for just the right moment and sometimes arduous trecks lugging camera equipment through deep snow-cover to the top of a local hill - but the result is worth it.

Gleann an Phéine looking West

The Village

The village of Gleann an Phéine is the only settlement in the valley - the only human settlement that is. The village is neither rich nor really poor - there are mostly farmers and foresters, hunting is done on the side, there's even a local blacksmith and during the summer season, traders occasionally visit the place or villagers treck south across the pass to the city.

The Village of Gleann an Phéine

We create the village for the movie by different techniques - wide-angle shots are done by video compositing, villagers are recorded with the bluescreen technique and merged in, and closeups are done by using various actual old huts in the neighborhood with suitable camera angles.

A villager on the path home

Clíodhna

Clíodhna, the main character of the movie, is a young witch from the south who recently moved to the valley when she sensed the impending death of her predecessor, Fionnula, and took over the hut and guardianship of the valley when Fionnula died, as is the witches way.

She is used to a warmer climate and not overly happy with the cold winters in the valley, but all in all likes the place and takes her responsibilities seriously - the fact that she has a shrewd sense of humor and a deep-rooted optimism certainly helps.

Clíodhna in front of her hut

The villagers, used to the stern crone Fionnula are certainly not finding it easy to accept advice by a young woman and sometimes let her feel this - but appearances can be deceiving, Clíodhna commands potent magic.

Clíodhna casting a banishing spell

Rórdán

As assistant of the local blacksmith, Rórdán is a moderately important person in the village, and since he's usually level-headed and fair, he has become something like the village's bailiff, often called upon by the village elders when there is a problem to solve (though that role has never been formalized). As a result, he is also often tasked to speak to the 'new witch' and is one of the first villagers to get to know Clíodhna better - which is not without problems, as he has a firm idea from Fionnula how a witch should behave...

Rórdán dressed for the hunt

Fionnula

As the old guardian of the valley, Fionnula is used to dealing with the villagers in her own way and knows the magic of the land well. She is not happy to pass all responsibility into the hands of a young witch from the south, but as she feels her end approaching, she has to trust that Clíodhna will solve things in her own way.

Fionnula in her hut

Siofra

Being a young villager and mother of Treasa (who is not exactly a well-behaved child), Siofra finds herself struggling to keep her family warm and fed after making the decision to marry for love rather than property. More than once, she has felt trapped in the valley and overwhelmed by circumstances, and yet she does not see a choice and has to do her chores to the best of her ability. And there's something in her past which connects her with Rórdán...

Siofra taking a break

Cian

Gleann an Phéine is a harsh place to live, but being born into one of the truly poor families, Cian has seen more hardship in his life than most. Yet he does not want to end up like his father and is determined to do whatever he can to improve his position.

Cian on the way to work

Ailbhe

As one of the richest villagers, Ailbhe keeps horses to work the fields and transport wood and can afford to employ several farmhands. Her parents died young, and since her twin-sister Caoimhe is blind, she is used to shouldering the responsibility for the property from an early age.

Ailbhe talking to the witch

Treasa, Rathnait and Úna

In a small place like the valley, one can't always find friends of one's own age, and so the three girls are used to play together despite their age differences. While especially the oldest, Rathnait, is already expected to help out with chores, the trio often ends up mysteriously disappearing on their own advantures.

Treasa, Rathnait and Úna

Magic

Magic depicted in the movie is based on ideas from Wiccan and Runic magic and ritual. We generally try to keep the visuals subtle, so that the viewer might even wonder whether he's really seen anything or not. Magic always has a slow, mysterious mood which we try to emphasize by both suitable background sounds and subtly changing the background scene light and focus.

Clíodhna's banishing spell starts working.

One of the most complex examples of magic we produced thus far is a vision appearing in a bowl of water - the result of multiple render passes with multiple effect suites and a careful compositing of the streams in the end (certainly a fast computer helps).

A vision appearing in a bowl of water.

Ritual

The witch is not only someone doing magic - she is also the spiritual guide of the villagers - or at least those who practice the old ways. As such, she is involved whenever rites of passage are needed, be it for the deceased, or the girls maturing into womanhood. Like magic, the ritual depicted in the movie is inspired by Wicca and Celtic tradition.

Rites for the passed away.

Village life

Gleann an Phéine is a medieval society - not inspired or true to any particular time period, it's a Fantasy movie after all - but villagers do not have modern technology available. During Summer, there is some trade with the lands further south, but in Winter the village is cut off from the rest of the world, and many of the things they use the villagers have to manufacture themselves - in addition to the farming and wood-cutting they need to do to survive. There's a blacksmith (for whom Rórdán works) taking care of metal works, several people hunt and are able to tan their own leather and some families keep sheep, so the villagers can produce wool and even weave their own fabrics. Nature supplies several dyes (plants, berries and mushrooms), and during the winter embroidery is an activity for many. Such work may even be sold to traders, providing the coin to buy the goods the villagers can not produce on their own.

Spinning wool.

In the series, we try to depict some of these activities during the year, showing scenes of everyday village life. Gleann an Phéine is not a place where people can sit idle (although it does have a tavern...) - most of the people Clíodhna runs into are busy doing work of some kind.

Luckily, many of our real-life village neighbours are proficient in one or the other craft (or keep animals) - so apart from the costumes, we're often able to film these things as people are actually doing them.

Teasers

The first teaser (on YouTube) gives a glimpse of the first episode:

Our second teaser is a bit more general - it contains some footage which will be part of the second episode (to appear in late summer 2018) and also shows how we picture life in the village to be like:

The third episode teaser gives a first impression of an adventurous journey to Storm Crag:

About the project

We envision the story to develop in several episodes which follow life in the valley throughout the circle of the seasons. Producing good quality is hard work - we take about 5-10 hours on the set and in post-production for every minute of the movie. Every scene is taken in multiple camera angles to allow a good cut in the end, so the final scenes contain only a tiny fraction of the material we actually record.

The movie is shot with German dialogs, but since we produce a DVD edition, there will be (at least) Finnish, French and English subtitles for the final product. We are technically able to produce versions synchronized into other languages if we find speakers who record the dialogs - any volunteers are very welcome to get in touch. We plan to publish a spoken German version with English subtitles in low resolution of the full movie on YouTube, all other language options and full resolution will only be available on DVD.

The current status of the project (as of August 2018) is as follows:

Episode concept script production post-production DVD edition
Blood in the Snow finished finished finished finished available
Truth from Beyond finished finished finished finished release date 26.08.2018
Storm Crag finished finished nearly finished --- expected November 2018
The Fairy Ring finished started started --- ---
Black Death --- --- --- --- ---

(titles may be working titles)

If you're interested yet more in how a movie is made, you can also take a peek behind the scenes.

Episode I - Blood in the Snow

The first episode, 'Blood in the Snow', is now finished - it is about 30 minutes in length. In this story, a wolf terrorizes the village of Gleann an Phéine and after some initial doubt Clíodhna starts to suspect it may not simply be a sick animal but rather possessed by an evil spirit, by accident freed from the powers which held it so far. But can she, a young and unexperienced witch, stand against such ancient evil?

A low resolution version of the episode with spoken German and English subtitles is now available on YouTube. At the same time, we have produced a high-resolution DVD version of the movie --- see below for some of the menu artwork.

The DVD edition - main menu

The DVD edition contains subtitle sets in English, French and Finnish (we're happy to include other languages - if you'd like to translate into your native language, you'll get the DVD as a 'thank you').

The DVD edition - chapter selection menu

In addition, the DVD contains the teaser as well as our most spectacular outtakes as extras.

The DVD can be ordered for 10 Euro plus 4.80 Euro EU-wide shipping in the bookstore.

Why do we sell the DVD for that price?

Making the movies is our hobby, but unfortunately it doesn't come cheap - even with everyone participating working for free, we have the cost of equipment and costumes. We'd like to be able to eventually produce better quality and more involved scenes, but that means our budget needs to grow. We don't simply want to ask for money via crowd-funding, we'd like to give something back to everyone who wants to support our project. This is why we sell a DVD edition in the first place and why we ask relatively much for a half-hour episode - it's not to make us rich, it's to help us to do the next episodes yet better.

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Created by Thorsten Renk 2018 - see the disclaimer, privacy statement and contact information.