Video & Photo Story: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Filming of 'The Postman'

Dec 1, 2019
by Tristan Tinn  

bigquotesClinging to the frayed edges of the ragged shores of the Isle of Harris, a singletrack path navigates its way above cliffs, around bays. Three friends made the trip to not only ride the Postman’s Path to Rhenigidale, but find out more about its history.

Until a road to the village opened in 1990, the path was the only overland link between Rhenigidale and the outside world. Kenny Mackay – the last postman to walk the track shares his stories – tales of community, survival and love.

They leave with a deeper understanding that this trail goes beyond being a simple physical connection between two places. It symbolises the emotional and practical ties to the landscapes humans call home.






I spent four long summer days working tirelessly on the Isle of Harris with Sam Needham, Tom Hill, Lucy Allan and Scot Easter. We pieced together the jigsaw, behind the tale of 'The Postman' - Kenny Mackay. In this piece I share my stills from the production and discuss the project with its creators Tom and Sam.






How was the film's backstory discovered?
bigquotesTom: Our mate Nils - who works for Lyon Cycle first heard about the trail and the village of Rhenigidale. It was his idea to visit and as we did a little more research we found out more about the history of the trail and its importance to the community.
Tell us the story of making contact with Kenny Mckay.
bigquotesTom: I spotted that Kenny had written a book about Rhenigidale’s history and that he was the last postman to walk the path. A bit of googling revealed that he was still living in the village, so we dropped him a line and arranged to meet up.



What were the major hurdles during production?
bigquotesTom: Harris is obviously quite remote, which wasn’t a huge hurdle, but it did mean that we had to be open-minded about how and what we shot, and work in a really tight time window. The weather was typically Scottish as well, with two out of the three days we were there being extremely wet. There was a fair bit of hiding in the van and rushing out to shoot for an hour or two during weather windows.

Sam: From the perspective of putting the film together. We had a lot of story to tell and not a lot of footage to tell it given the challenges we faced with the weather. So that was a little worry I had about putting the film together, but I’m really pleased how we managed to communicate Kenny’s story.




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How was the project assembled, pooling editorial outlets and brands?
bigquotesTom: The project was funded by Ortlieb and Salsa - two brands that are distributed in the UK by Lyon Cycle. We always wanted to target getting the film into Kendal Mountain Festival and have close ties to Sidetracked Magazine, so worked closely with them both to tell the story.
Can you give any tips for up and coming creatives who wish to assemble their ideas into commercial pitches?
bigquotesTom: I think it’s about having a compelling story that’s worth telling. Finding the right company to work with is important too. Lyon were really keen on the concept of the film and were keen not to just use it as a tool for pushing products.

Sam: I’d agree with Tom here. A true and authentic story goes a long way. As a filmmaker, photographer or writer, it’s your job to tell that story as best as you can. So, I’d say find a good story and see where that can take you. If it’s different, or interesting there will always be people out there who will help you tell that story.






Looking back on your time in Rhenigidale what is your main take away point?
bigquotesTom: I’m in love with the North West Scotland. I love that each island has its own feel. This time, though, it felt like a real honour to get to know a community and a bit of living history rather than simply shred trails.

Sam: For me, I’d never really thought of the UK having these truly isolated communities. Before going to Rhenigidale, I’d thought the fact it wasn’t connected to the UK road network until the ’90s was a bit of a novelty. It was far from that though and Kenny and Moira really brought that home for me. Without a road, Rhenigidale and its community would not have survived to tell these tales.





What was your favourite part of working on this project?
bigquotesSam: The Isle of Harris is quite the place, so spending time exploring that small island in a very short space of time was a great opportunity. I also really enjoyed the edit process for ‘The Postman’. I didn’t really have a storyboard for the film, so I pieced it together as I was going however it felt right and Tom helped fill in the gaps.




Tom: Definitely the time with Kenny. Most projects like this are fun - the whole team was great fun to spend time with, but Kenny and his wife Moira transformed our experience into something much more meaningful.




If you were to work on the project again what would you do differently?
bigquotesSam: Spend more time on Harris for work and play and to sit down for longer with Kenny and Moira to listen to more of their stories.

Tom: I’d have loved more time there. Not just because of the weather, but because Kenny has so many more stories to tell.













Film by Sam Needham, written by Tom Hill. Photos by Tristan Tinn. Funded by Lyon UK and Ortlieb.

Ortlieb Atrack Pack




Regions in Article
Scotland


8 Comments

  • 5 0
 Great short film, We rode the old postman's route in June this year, there is no doubt you have to work for it, with dreamy single trail downs mixed up with hike a bike ups. The final downhill do Lochannan Lacasdail is a great one. Thanks for sharing.
  • 2 0
 Class lads. Sam & Tom et al. Awesome finished product. Hope it achieves everything you wished for to reflect all your efforts to shoot and produce it. We have been inspired and will be heading up there for Harris, Skye and hopefully 1 or 2 others islands in April as part of a Hebrides Island Hoping Tour, just waiting for the weather to break a bit. Thanks for sharing
  • 2 0
 Such a beautiful place and a delightful sketch. My wife and I have toured the Outer Hebrides several times on our tandem, We didn't make it out to Rhenigidale, but we have ridden some similar trails, like the one out to Rubh' an Teampaill. The Scottish right to travel laws make it a delightful place to tour. The people we have met have been among the most gracious on earth. We have always started by flying to Barra and riding north, but however you do it take the time to visit with the people you meet along the way.
  • 3 0
 Cool story but why is that man pedaling so damn hard!? The shots of bro dude sprinting are really out of step with the pace of the story and the idea of this guy hiking that trail to deliver the Mail. Calm down dude
  • 1 0
 Same feeling... they were probably thinking about their well-deserved whiskey reward after such rides in that hostile nature :-)
Great film, great adventure anyway. Much appreciated!
  • 2 0
 Express mail innit
  • 1 0
 Neat story, beautifully told here and in the video. Just moved to Scotland from California a couple mos ago (MTB hasn't gotten here yet)--looking forward to exploring those islands.
  • 1 0
 Love the back story, thanks for sharing, this is one of the better bike short films I've seen for a while.

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