Tale tells of Scots documentary made against the odds and now a global hit

A COMPELLING tale of a documentary film that has wowed audiences worldwide but which was a financial struggle to make is reported in yesterday’s Daily Record.

The two-page spread by Annie Brown tells the story of Ruaridh Arrow’s film, made in Inverness against the financial odds, and about Gene Sharp, a Boston-based author of a guide on how to topple dictatorships, using non-violent methods, which has inspired several uprisings around the world.

Writes Brown: “A war studies student, Ruaridh came across Sharp’s booklet when he was studying revolution.

“Later, as a young journalist, colleagues told him it had turned up in Serbia.

“He then discovered it had been used in the Orange Revolution that took place in Ukraine.

“Ruaridh, 31, said: ‘I saw the same techniques replicated time and time again. At first, I thought there was something really dodgy going on so I tried to find what the common factor was, and it was this little book.

“‘Here was this old man sitting in a crumpled house in Boston and that is where revolutionaries go for advice.

“’It was one of the world’s great little secrets. It was a little bit of magic and I had to make a film about it.’

“Ruaridh had worked for Sky and Channel 4’s Dispatches but couldn’t get anyone to back his idea that Sharp would make a top documentary.

“‘They kept asking me who this peace freak, Gene Sharp, was. I tried to tell them that his book was everywhere and it is really influential but they weren’t even interested.’

“But Ruaridh refused to give up.

“He quit his job, sold everything he could, took what little money he had and flew to Boston with a camerman.”

The film, ‘How to Start a Revolution‘, is estimated to have been seen by ten million people.

Continues Brown: “Ruaridh again ran out of money and had to delay any work on the film for another nine months while he saved up.

“He did anything he could for cash, from taking part in freelance documentary-making, to dressing up as a Viking extra in a film.”