A ‘quietly brilliant’ new documentary film promotes understanding of hill farming in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Stephen Bostock and nephew Dave Fullerton share the hardships and joys of their working life at Hall Farm in Gammersgill in Coverdale.
Manchester-based production company Film on the Brain made a short film for each season of the year, capturing the men working in a stunning landscape of barns, drystone walls, flower-rich meadows and moorland. These have now been edited together to make one 27-minute film called ‘Farming Through The Seasons’.
The film was commissioned by the National Park Authority as a way of supporting hill farmers to make their voices heard during a period of time that the government is calling an ‘agricultural transition’ for England.
Member Champion for the Natural Environment at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Mark Corner, said: “We want those upland farmers that are really looking after this landscape to be heard in the national conversation about the future of farming. The film has no narrator, only the gentle twang of Stephen and Dave as they explain their traditional practices and share their feelings about farming through the seasons.
“The sound work is the other aspect that makes ‘Farming Through The Seasons’ quietly brilliant. You can hear the rain pelting into waterproofs as the farmers repair the drystone walls in the spring; you can hear stone on stone as the wall is put together again. The scenes of sheep dogs, of haymaking and of feeding sheep in the snow are quintessentially Yorkshire Dales National Park.”
Stephen Bostock said: “It’s not quite Clarkson’s Farm but it is another perspective on farming. The film puts across the costs and hardships of hill farming, but also the more enjoyable parts it.
“We didn’t realise all it would entail when we said ‘yes’, but we’re pleased with how it’s turned out. There were three days of filming per season as well as preparation time. We agreed to it because we thought it would help promote farming, especially our type of hill farming. It’s about farming and conservation, and in the future farming certainly needs to go hand-in-hand with conservation to be successful.”
He added: “I think it’s important that hill farming is promoted as even though we call it a way of life, we’ve got to make a living. People need to realise what hill farmers do to contribute to the upkeep of the countryside. It can be easy to take the landscape and the heritage for granted, but the landscape we have – the barns, the walls – is down to generations of farmers.”
The Farming Through The Seasons film can be seen on the National Park Authority’s YouTube channel: youtu.be/9dUtOFdoPO4
Matthew Wood from Film on the Brain said: “Producing this documentary with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority was a real privilege. We get to meet a lot of amazing people in our line of work but rarely do we stay with them for so long. Having the chance to revisit David and Stephen, we got very close with them.
“We realised while filming how important it was to get a raw and honest portrayal of what life is like on a hill farm. Having now completed the film, it’s a great reminder of how many stories there are to be told throughout Yorkshire, and a great reminder of the hardworking individuals behind farming and the challenges it brings year round.
“We really hope this speaks to an audience who are interested in both the heritage and traditional practice while also getting a wonderful insight into the people and generations behind hill farming in the Yorkshire Dales.”
Film on the Brain intend to submit the film to Kendal Mountain Festival for showing at November’s festival.