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CalMac Culture Screen winner's prize film goes live on Caledonian MacBrayne website

A budding amateur film maker from Oban, who won the first CalMac Culture Screen competition, has premiered his short movie in Glasgow, to great acclaim.

A budding amateur film maker from Oban, who won the first CalMac Culture Screen competition, has premiered his short movie in Glasgow, to great acclaim.

In addition, 24-year-old Michael Westcott's excellent handiwork is now live on the Caledonian MacBrayne - the UK's largest ferry network operator - website and will also be shown as a trailer at Oban's Phoenix Cinema and before films in the Screen Machine as it tours its remote Highlands and islands locations.

Michael, who works at outdoor educational centre Stramash, won through in the national competition to identify new film-making talent.

At a packed screening of his short movie, entitled Connecting the Isles, in Glasgow Michael presented a three minute cinematic visit to the Isle of Cumbrae - through the eyes of Clare McGonigle, a trainee instructor at the National Watersports Centre on the island.

And for 20-year-old Clare from Largs, it was the first time she had seen the finished product which she worked on over two days in the summer.

Michael's prize was a two-week specialised course with award-winning 29studios in Glasgow, learning from its exceptional team of film-making professionals.

Connecting the Isles follows Clare as she journeys to work, the Isle of Cumbrae and Clare's love of sailing and other watersports, as well as the key part the ferry plays in the lives of islanders.

"I am on an instructor development scheme, which offers training to become a fully qualified RYA instructor in water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, yachting and many more," said Clare. "We filmed over two days and I enjoyed every minute of it.

"I was excited and a bit nervous before seeing the film - bit it was absolutely great; I was so pleased."

29studios gave Michael an in-depth training experience, as part of its 29steps programme aimed at giving young people access to professional creative industries expertise, filming over two days on and around Cumbrae and then two weeks in company's Glasgow HQ.

"Winning the first CalMac Culture Screen competition was brilliant - a real surprise," said Michael. "I had an amazing experience working with such a nice and talented group of professionals from 29studios. I was able to learn and pick up key skills from an experienced video production team - I'd never worked with a team like that before.

"I'm proud that my film is now live for all to see on the CalMac website and it's amazing that audiences around Scotland will see it on the Screen Machine. Most special of all, in some ways, is that it will be on before performances at the Phoenix Cinema in my home town of Oban."

"I am delighted that 29studios could partner with CalMac for this amazing project," said Gillian O'Neil, 29studios' founder and chief executive officer. "With youth development at the core of our strategy this project was a fantastic opportunity to weave creative film-making into the CalMac Culture Screen project Connecting the Isles."

Caledonian MacBrayne is a keen supporter of the arts and, in addition to its own CalMac Culture programme, provides welcome input to dozens of projects, events and initiatives up and down the 200-mile length of its network.

Peter Griffiths, CalMac's marketing manager, said: "Promoting the vibrant and rich cultural diversity of the islands and mainland areas we serve is important to us and finding new talent through initiatives like this helps keep that alive."

Included in the company's cultural initiatives is a package of support for Scotland's mobile cinema, the Screen Machine, which takes recent release films to islands and remote mainland areas. And continued CalMac sponsorship for this unique cinematic experience has been announced.

Also on a cinematic note, Oban's Phoenix Cinema has had sponsorship of its second auditorium - which will now be known as the CalMac Culture Screen - confirmed.

Check out to view the film and learn more about CalMac Culture Screen.

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