Jessie and the Elf Boy: a new release from Fellowship Film
Fellowship Film, set up by our friends Philip and Matthew Todd and others in their family are releasing a new family feature film this month with a Scottish theme – Jessie and the Elf Boy. Here’s an article about Philip and this project, a slightly longer version of the piece which appeared in the Highland News on 2nd September. All the photos of the set and filming are by Ciara Menzies.
I’m looking forward to seeing Jessie and the Elf Boy a family feature film produced in Scotland which is released on-line later this month. It’s based on the legend of Ghillie Dhu, a mysterious boy who meets young Jessie, lost in the woods, and shows her the way home.
In the film, Ghillie Dhu meets up again with Jessie when she’s older, visible only to her. Sometimes he seems like an angel of grace. But there are pranks, mischief and slapstick fun, director Philip Todd tells me. Having Ghillie Dhu as an invisible friend sounds like a mixed blessing!
Another invisible presence – God – is as real to Philip as Ghillie Dhu is to Jessie. Philip is a son of the manse with six equally-talented siblings who spent their formative years in Caithness.
He tells me he was never not a Christian, but God grew more real to him as he faced new challenges, moving first to Glasgow and then to London to study film and acting. He speaks of a growing intimacy with God, by which he means a sense that God’s not simply there for the big stuff, but is present in the detail.
Which means he sees his work – all of it – as done in co-operation with God. When human creativity reflects God’s heart, Philip tells me, it is an expression of divine creativity. This is true when Philip was working on specifically Christian projects such as presenting a documentary on John Knox, or editing Jesus Son of God?
But it’s equally true of the output of Fellowship Film which he co-founded and which produced Jessie. Now you might say ‘Come on! God’s creativity reflected in a light-hearted film?’ But is God totally serious, focussed only on tasks and outcomes? Surely, Philip suggests, when you look at God’s productions you see an explosion of extravagant joy, an exuberance, endless ingenuity. God creates with a smile on God’s face and laughter in God’s heart.
Phil also found this intimate God present in his work as an actor. Although he turned down roles he was not comfortable with as a Christian, he didn’t have an issue playing unsavoury characters if the story was told with integrity, and reflected the perspective that life has meaning: there is hope, and redemption, and glimmers of light in the deepest forest.
nd these are the values which shape Jessie and the Elf Boy.
The girl lost in the woods. The mysterious child who shows her the way home. It resonates deeply with us in a confusing and challenging world. Is there a bright child who comes to us in the dark depths of an ancient wood, and shows us the way home?