By Mike Ritchie

EVERY good film needs strong storylines, gripping dialogue, convincing performances, colourful settings and intrigue plus, of course, lots of drama.

There was plenty of the latter even before the first call for "action" left the lips of Scottish film director Philip Todd, who is one of five brothers from two Scottish families pushing ahead to bring their second, full-length film to the silver screen.

It was only on the eve of the first day's location work that one of their crew got a negative Covid-19 test result meaning they could proceed.

HeraldScotland: Director Philip Todd filmed Jessie And The Elf Boy during the pandemicDirector Philip Todd filmed Jessie And The Elf Boy during the pandemic

"It was touch and go, a very nervy 24 hours with the prospect of the film being halted after all our plans were in place," said Philip. "The first day of filming is always exciting but this time it was even more of thrill."

Fellowship Film - formed in 2017 by brothers Philip, Nathan and Matthew Todd and their cousins, Tom and John Walkinshaw - has now completed 18 days of filming of Jessie And The Elf Boy, a 90-minute movie, shot in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Stirling area last month.

Philip and his two brothers and two cousins - whose breakthrough film The Gaelic King three years ago was dubbed fondly as the "budget Braveheart" by critics - say their new family entertainment film was inspired by a Scottish legend.

Jessie And The Elf Boy is about a plucky teenager determined to win favour with her high-flying mother by becoming a renowned hair stylist.

But she can't go it alone so she finds an unexpected helper in the form of an artistic forest elf called Ghillie Dhu.

HeraldScotland: Huck Whittle as the mysterious forest dweller Ghillie Dhu in the new feature film Jessie And The Elf BoyHuck Whittle as the mysterious forest dweller Ghillie Dhu in the new feature film Jessie And The Elf Boy

Philip, his brother, Matthew (production manager along with brother, Nathan) helped in the script development of the 90-minute film, which stars Julia Brown as Jessie.

Julia's most recent credits include Anthony (BBC) and The Angel of Darkness (Paramount for Netflix) and she also starred in the lead role of Lois Bennett in the BBC's World On Fire, and appeared in the drama series Shetland.

Gail Watson who plays Katie Morag's mother in the Katie Morag CBeebies show, as well as featuring in in Shetland, also stars in the film. Ghillie Dhu is played by Huck Whittle.

The days of filming with mainly Scottish actors proved extremely demanding but Fellowship Film engaged a health and safety supervisor to ensure guidelines were followed.

HeraldScotland: Gail Watson, star of CBEEBIEs' Katie Morag, plays ValerieGail Watson, star of CBEEBIEs' Katie Morag, plays Valerie

"The arts world is bleak and demoralising at the moment so we were determined to make the film and, despite the circumstances, it has been invigorating," said Philip."To be honest, Covid restrictions made this shoot extremely challenging in many ways.

"Our start date for Jessie And The Elf Boy had to be delayed due to the pending Covid test within the crew. Once we got the all-clear we had already lost a full day of shooting and as a result our schedule had to be amended each day, putting huge pressure on our production team. On set, things were also harder than usual. Limited capacities due to social distancing meant cast and crew had to constantly find imaginative solutions to allow them to fulfil their roles.

"In addition, there were the essential regimes of cleaning, hand washing and mask-wearing. However, we have been overwhelmed by the talents and dedication of our incredible cast and crew who poured their all into the film to make it the best it could be."

Fellowship Film is fast emerging as an independent film production company in Scotland.

The film's backers are private investors, but the Todd brothers say a crowdfunding campaign will start towards the end of this month. They are also seeking a sales agent to represent them with the European Film Festival in Berlin in February next year already identified as a target.

"In some ways, the work has only just begun as we now move forward into post-production," said Philip. "This is our opportunity to invite people to be involved in the making of this film, to get their name in the credits, and to be a part of the story behind the story.

"If this is of interest to anyone, we would love to hear from them." Fellowship Film can be contacted via action@fellowshipfilm.com