Award-winning WW2 film taken in Ayrshire goes online: Spitfires and Heinkels in Troon

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Watching movies at home has become the new standard for movie nights as the pandemic has steadily forced the closing of movie theaters around the world.

And while the loss of our beloved screens is sad, by offering an abundance of art online, designers, directors, musicians and many other creatives have reacted – something that has helped many of us through the long pandemic months spanning both behind and ahead.

There couldn’t have been a better time for Scottish filmmakers Andrew Muir and David Ross to make their award-winning film about World War II available online.

The short film has already racked up over 100,000 views on YouTube within the two short weeks after its release.

Turning Tide, filmed in the town where Andrew and David grew up on the west coast of Scotland, tells the story of ten-year-old David McKellar, whose life takes a dramatic turn when British Spitfires intercept a squadron of German planes flying over his house – leading to a thrilling air battle and an injured fighter pilot who tries to avoid everything.

And Troon offers the ideal setting for the 1940s drama with some of the finest historic architecture and stunning coastal scenery Scotland has to offer.

For writer-director Andrew Muir, from a Scottish viewpoint, part of the appeal was telling a World War II story.

For years, we had been talking about making a movie together, so it was immediately clear to us that Troon would be the right place to make it,”We had been talking about making a film together for years, so it was immediately clear to us that Troon would be the right place to do it,” I don’t think you see that very much. In the south of England, most films that depict that time of history are set.

And although the bombing seen in the film is fictional, during the time on which the battle is based, there were a lot of skirmishes and bombing raids in Scotland.

“Troon itself is a really picturesque town on the coast, and in a way the film was written around the location to take full advantage of it. There are a lot of old buildings there, and we knew the gravel bank, harbor and cliffs would look great in the film.”

Combine the stunning scenery of the Scottish coast with the fascinating visual effects created by RAF Spitfires and German Heinkels models, and it’s difficult to believe that this film was made on a budget that was shoestring.

David Ross, the film’s producer and SFX supervisor, says, “I think we grew up in the west of Scotland and took the beauty of the Scottish coast for granted,”

You only know how beautiful it is when you travel to the city and come back to visit. Shooting in our hometown of Troon presented us with a backdrop of epic coastal views, as well as the opportunity to use some historic buildings that are relatively untouched.

We should have known, of course, that the volatile Scottish weather will play a huge role! After a full washout for the first two days, we were left halfway through the expected shoot with no usable video.

Fortunately, in the end, the weather worked together, and we were able to catch the Troon coastline with clear blue skies with a few extra days, just as we had hoped.

And even after its initial release, the film has already had a good run at festivals – including winning first prize at the 2019 Scottish Short Film Festival – Andrew and David were apprehensive during a global pandemic about releasing it online.

We’ve been working on the film for many years, so it feels amazing to finally get it in front of a global audience,” Andrew says. “Initially, in the current atmosphere, we were a little reluctant to release the film, assuming that everybody would have their eyes on other, more important things.

“But we quickly realized that no matter what’s going on in the world, people always need a little escape from real life, whether it’s in movies, books or music. So we’re very fortunate to be able to provide that for people.”

Together, the film and its accompanying “Making Of” documentary have received over a quarter of a million views in two weeks, and the ultimate reward for David is to share the film with a new audience – particularly after the hard work it took to bring it to the screen.

We had a wonderful time screening Turning Tide at film festivals, but the Internet may have a much broader scope, so at some stage we always intended to get the film online.

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