Rotarians hear from Sunset Song actor

Susan and Sally Myles
Susan and Sally Myles

Vice President Alan Smith introduced the Mearns latest film star to his fellow Rotary members to talk on his most recent blockbuster.

Rotary member Peter Myles and his daughters, Susan and Sally, his finest 80 blackface sheep and his three faithful collie sheepdogs were engaged to take part in the recent filming of Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song in Fettercairn. Peter, his family and sheep were hired through an animal hire company and were instructed to present themselves on the morning of the film shoot in Fettercairn.

Filming Sunset Song.

Filming Sunset Song.

The village had been stripped of all its modern trappings and the centre was then transformed to suit the early 20th century period of the novel. Some might say that this would not have been a big task!

Nothing was overlooked and the Myles family and the sheep had also to undergo a makeover. Peter and his daughters had to travel over the Cairn o Mount to Ballater Hall to get period hairstyles and clothes to suit their shepherding duties.

Modern sheep have fairly conspicuous ear tags and this mandatory ear jewellery too had to be expertly camouflaged. Modernity has fortunately not impacted on sheep dogs so they required no titivating. The filming day brought further last minute hair and clothes adjustment in the Fettercairn Hall and remarkably Peter had to be made even more dishevelled and grubby for his acting duties.

Modern shepherds are obviously more men about town than their predecessors. Now ready for the roll of the cameras, the shepherding Myles herded their flock round a neighbouring field to tire them out and make them easier to handle but the call to appear was greatly delayed until an unattended, locked, modern vehicle could be removed from the filming area. On the call, the sheep were expertly and smoothly moved down through the village, through the Royal Arch and then herded back with the cameras on long boom following them – the Arch was not to be part of the scenery. The stars of the film - Agyness Deyn and Kevin Guthrie - then appeared for their filming roles with the Myles family, the sheep and sheep dogs as special extras.

The sheep so used to the anonymity of the hills of Dalbog did not waste their opportunity to shine and darted into the Encore Dress Shop to the consternation of the owner and the embarrassment of the sheep dogs. This escapade will not appear on the silver screen!

Peter’s illustrated talk was full of humorous observations on the unique complexities of film making but he and his daughters thoroughly enjoyed the experience and are looking forward to the release of this big budget production also starring Peter Mullan, Peter Myles, Susan Myles, Sally Myles and a supporting cast of eighty blackface sheep and three masterful sheep dogs. Lassie, eat your heart out!