"Hello, my name is Robert Aitken and I am a socially engaged writer, director, and producer who has been creating eco-poetic films and music about the people and places rooted in Caithness and Sutherland for over a decade and delivering accessible film training for the last four years. I work predominately with rural Highland communities and have a deep understanding of people and landscapes, which has helped me develop a grounded placemaking approach to making films."
Robert was past director of, not-for-profit, Piping Arts Ltd. and founder of MWB Productions. He has partnered of many creative education projects in North East Scotland. Today, he specialises in communicating the lost, or often forgotten, stories of peoples and their plight over the years to present day. His work often asks questions on society, environment and our future as a species. His music, films and project work have garnered him as a narrative driven storyteller and educator.
Robert's latest project is an ambitions four film project looking at Climate Change. His first film was made during the 2nd covid pandemic lockdown in 2021 with a national screening tour planned for end of 2022 - 2023. The first film in the series is THE DREAMING BOG; an ecopoetic film on Climate Change told through the history and mythology of the Peatlands of Northern Scotland and the Mires of Finland - an exploration of the punishment and preservation by humankind on these vulnerable landscapes.
The imaginative STRATH-STEVEN COVE, edited during the first covid pandemic lockdown in 2021, is a journey in film uncovering the ritual marks found in a Jurassic age cave. The film tracks Brora based researcher, Jacquie Aitken, on foot from Sputie Burn as she reveals the meanings behind the carved marks inside the cave.
THREADS FROM THE DEEP was a film made by Robert just before the covid pandemic in 2020. The film captures one of the worlds foremost tapestry artists, Joan Baxter, at her home in East Sutherland, Highlands of Scotland.
THE RISE AND FALL OF DIGITAL MAN is a micro-film based on the tone poem of the same name made in 2019. It is a cautionary tale of the development of digital technology and its effects on human beings. Contrasting this is ISLE MARTIN: A Little Island With A Big History, an 2018 promotional film for Isle Martin Trust utilising local image archives and oral history recordings. This film shows what secluded natural environments have offered past and present generations.
LIGHT CALLER, utilises NASA footage and is inspired by Robert's poem 'I am the Light'. A thought provoking short-film shows that each of us are part of a mighty connected organism integral as a single living planet. This 2017 cine-film has been submitted to the NASA/Cinespace programme as a study of the future of space exploration.
2014-15 saw LAST FOOTSTEPS OF HOME as Robert’s first major film study. The film is a haunting period piece inspired by the true story of a young Scots woman who is forced to leave her family home in 1813 and board an emigrant ship bound for the New World. The film gained an international following with its universal story of leaving, loss and courage. It was also praised for broadening discussion around the affected region of historic forced evictions as well as innovation of technology in production. The film’s research, aided by eminent writer/historian Professor James Hunter, has seen Robert present the film to several invited international conferences and festivals.
Robert’s acclaimed soundtrack to the Highland Clearances, KILDONAN, features newly composed and arranged pieces inspired by events that took place in Scotland in the early 19th Century Scotland, where local people were cleared of their land to make way for Sheep. KILDONAN is the official music to Scotland’s Clearances Trail and was chosen to spearhead Oxfam’s global campaign, Enough Food. Through his collaboration with Emmy® Award winning director, Guy Perrotta, KILDONAN is also the soundtrack for the forthcoming major US docudrama ‘Voices Over The Water’.
As director on WORKING LIE TO WAR LIFE, examining the transformation of peoples lives in North East of Scotland during World War One, Robert's exhibition centerpiece, THE TENT, highlighted the effects of war on soldiers and those at home. The exhibition attracted record attendances at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum and was hailed as an affecting and arresting sound installation vividly brought to life through an exciting mix of expressive arts and groundbreaking digital surround sound technology.
In community and education Robert has successfully devised and delivered several innovative creative projects. As a campaign manager Robert continually drives projects to ever-new heights with clarity of vision and belief in his concepts utilising a crafted blend of conventional press and social media outlets. He is often asked to give talks and lectures on causes & subjects he has filmed and his ability to harness creative digital media to those ends.
“There will always be a strong link to the human story throughout the ages in my work, how we have adapted to the highs and lows in this digital age, and, how we treat each other on this planet we all share...I aim to connect the past with the present to inform our future in what I do not see as time immemorial, but the ever moving cycle of life as time orbital.”
Robert was born and brought up in Brora, North East Sutherland, and has been interested in the relationship between dynamic and problematic landscapes and the people who live and work in them. Robert embraces opportunities to reconnect to Caithness and Sutherland through filmmaking, engaging with communities, local filmmakers, writers, artists, researchers, anthropologists and historians etc. He enjoys sharing this rich and creative experience through mentorship and socially engaged projects.
© Robert Aitken & Robert Aitken Filmproduction