Brothers in Arms: How the adversity to finish the film overcame five siblings


Mike Ritchie by

A strong storyline, engaging dialogue, compelling actors, vibrant settings and suspense, and, of course, plenty of drama are required for every good movie.

Even before the first call for action left the lips of Scottish director Philip Todd, who is one of five brothers from two Scottish families pushing to get their second full-length film to the screen, there was plenty of the latter.

It wasn’t until the eve of the first day of filming that a negative Covid-19 test result was obtained by one of the crew members, which meant they could continue.

During the pandemic, Director Philip Todd filmed Jessie And The Elf Boy.

“It was touch and go, it was a very nervous 24 hours with the prospect of the film being stopped after all our plans were finalized,” Philip said. “The first day of shooting is always exciting, but this time it was even more exciting.”

Fellowship Film, founded in 2017 by brothers Philip, Nathan and Matthew Todd and their cousins Tom and John Walkinshaw, has now completed 18 days of shooting in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Stirling region for the 90-minute film ‘Jessie And The Elf Boy,’ which was shot last month.

Their new family entertainment film was influenced by a Scottish legend, Philip and his two brothers and two cousins – whose breakthrough film The Gaelic King was affectionately called a “budget Braveheart” by critics three years ago – tell.

Jessie And The Elf Boy is about a plucky girl who, by being a famous hairdresser, wishes to earn her high-flying mother’s favor.

But she can’t do it alone, so in the form of an artsy wood elf called Ghillie Dhu, she finds an unexpected helper.

In the latest Jessie And The Elf Boy feature film, Huck Whittle as the elusive forest dweller, Ghillie Dhu.

His brother Matthew Philip (production manager along with brother Nathan) helped create the script for the 90-minute film starring Julia Brown as Jessie.

Anthony (BBC) and The Angel of Darkness are among the latest productions of Julia (Paramount for Netflix). In the BBC series World On Fire, she also starred as Lois Bennett and appeared in the drama series Shetland.

Gail Watson, who plays the mother of Katie Morag in Katie Morag’s CBeebies show and also stars in Shetland, is also in the film. Huck Whittle plays Ghillie Dhu.

The days-long shoot with mostly Scottish actors proved incredibly difficult, but a health and safety supervisor was employed by Fellowship Film to ensure that protocols were followed.

Gail Watson, the star of Katie Morag’s CBEEBI, plays Valerie.

“The world of art is bleak and demoralizing right now, so we were determined to make the film, and despite the circumstances, it was invigorating,” Philip says. To be honest, Covid’s constraints made this shoot incredibly difficult in many respects.

“Due to the imminent Covid test within the crew, our start date for Jessie And The Elf Boy had to be pushed back. We had already missed a full day of shooting by the time we got the all-clear, and as a result, our timetable had to be changed every day, which placed immense pressure on our production team. Things on set were more complicated than normal as well. Due to social distancing, restricted capacity meant that cast and crew had to continually find creative ways to fill their roles.

“Added to that were the indispensable regularities of cleaning, hand washing and mask wearing. But we’re overwhelmed by the talents and dedication of our incredible cast and crew, who put everything into the film to make it the best it could be.”

In Scotland, Fellowship Film is fast becoming an independent film production company.

The supporters of the film are private investors, but the Todd brothers say they’re going to start a crowdfunding campaign by the end of this month. They are also looking for a sales agent to represent them, having already set as their goal the European Film Festival in Berlin next February.

“In a way, the work has just begun, as we are now moving into post-production,” Philip said. This is our chance to invite people to be part of the making of the film, to be part of the story behind the story, to see their name in the credits.

“If this is of interest to anyone, we would love to hear from them.” Fellowship Film can be reached at [email protected]


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