MA Film student Robin Haig writes about her six years in Amsterdam and her dream of combining filmmaking and crofting back home in Scotland.
I have not long returned to Scotland after living in Amsterdam for six years. I moved there to broaden my horizons after working as a runner in the Scottish film industry for three years on things such as Red Road, Rebus and the Water Horse. Before I left in 2007 I made a short documentary through GMAC called Dear Dad, which was nominated for two Scottish BAFTA New Talent Awards.
The trip to Amsterdam was only meant to be for six months and so during this time I came back and forth to Scotland to make a second short, Saltmark, which was funded by the UK Film Council and the then Scottish Screen. Amsterdam is such a great city and six months turned into six years. I wondered when I would move back, but I always knew that somehow I would.
Whilst in Amsterdam I worked on a variety of projects including some that allowed me to travel to Mali and South Africa. I did an internship at the advertising agency Kesselskramer and I made a documentary, The Getaway, which was developed at the IDFAcademy Summer School. The Getaway is about a dream that keeps on going for a group of Dutch men who drive to France every summer to become rock stars.
For part of my time in Amsterdam I lived and worked in The Bookstore Foundation, a social living project that allows artists to live for reduced rent in return for their time in neighbourhoods undergoing regeneration. We created a swap shop, gallery, workshop, bike repair shop, a kids project with a library and dance classes. In the downstairs level of my house was a residency space with a studio, which meant that every six months I got the chance to live with a new artist including a painter, a fashion designer, an illustrator and a writer.
Since graduating from art school I have wanted to do a Masters in filmmaking. I considered many faraway places to do this in, but after six years abroad I decided the best place was back in Scotland, in order to lay the foundations for a future living and working there. This is also an incredibly exciting moment to be back in Scotland, to be part of the choice for an independent future.
People often ask what I will do after the Masters, expecting me to say I will go somewhere like London. But I will head in the opposite direction, north, to the Highlands where I grew up. That will be my base and I will work with my father on diversifying our croft. I believe you have to follow your heart, no matter how illogical your dreams may be and after broadening my horizons outside of Scotland I am taking the steps needed to implement my dream of being a filmmaker and a crofter back home in the Highlands.