Made Here: Lost in Transition, STV

SAYS STV (here): “‘This is Scotland’ is a series of two new documentaries produced by upcoming Scottish based filmmakers. The filmmakers are Ruth Carslaw and Jack Warrender. Ruth’s film, My New Hair [see here on], a journey into the world of wigs following Scottish women who have lost their hair. Jack’s film, Lost in Transition, asks how much you can tell about a city [Glasgow] from its Lost Property office.”

It is being broadcast on STV at 2000 this evening.

This is Scotland is described as “a documentary and new talent initiative run by STV, the Scottish Documentary Institute, in association with Creative Scotland”.

Jack Warrender, director of Lost in Transition, answers the questions…

Who commissioned the programme?

The programme was commissioned by Elizabeth Partyka, deputy director of channels for STV, and supported by the Scottish Documentary Institute (SDI) and Creative Scotland.

Explain the thinking behind the programme’s ‘look and feel’.

How do you make a film in a room that is five metres by four metres, is over-flowing with row upon row of lost objects and has two extremely active characters in it?

Peter Akar – director of photography – and I tried, where possible, to make the claustrophobia of the room a virtue of the film. This enforced intimacy gave us no option but to position the camera close to the contributors as the action unfolds, placing the audience between the nitty and gritty of the world they are observing.

Who are the key personnel? How were they recruited?

Jean Scott and Kirsty Ballantyne are the main contributors to the film. Jean has worked for First Bus for 36 years and Kirsty is her young apprentice. I simply turned up one morning and asked if they would be interested in taking part in a documentary about the workings of a lost property office. To their credit, they let me film for a week to see how it felt. It went well and we then committed to a longer shoot.

What kit and software?

We shot on a Panasonic AF100 owned by SDI and edited on Avid

What were the main production challenges?

The main challenge was down to the luck of being in the right place at the right time. The aim was to follow an epic story of loss and recovery. In order to capture the drama, it was important to tell this story in live action rather than retrospectively. For this to be the case, we had to be on our guard each time the telephone rang.

We had not anticipated that, by spending so much time in the office, we became ‘part of the furniture’. This resulted in Jean and Kirsty relaxing and allowing us to capture a very natural side of their characters.

The sensitive observation of Jean and Kirsty at work was brilliantly drawn out by the editor, Anthea Harvey.  This gave the film a subtlety and depth that Peter and I hadn’t initially expected or hoped to capture.

What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?

Lost in Transition was the first idea I had pitched as a stand-alone film for broadcast. With that, came a whole host of new experiences – from the pitch itself to the review process during the edit.

To do this at a professional level, I have learnt more than I could have anticipated.

This opportunity has given me an informed confidence for my next film.

As far as enjoyment goes, I loved it. I got the chance to work on this project with a great friend, Peter Akar.

Jean and Kirsty made us laugh on a daily basis.

Beyond this, we have made a film that is given life by the morality and honesty of a city that I love. It is this element to the process that has provided the greatest pleasure.