Glasgow-based Media Co-op has spent 18 months filming creating a documentary for BBC television. The Wee Govan Pipers, which follows the formative moments of the Govan Schools Pipe Band, was broadcast on New Year’s Day and is available on the iPlayer until Tuesday Feb 2 at 9pm.
Media Co-op was founded in 2004 by a group of media professionals to pool skills and work co-operatively to make films, manage social media content and offer training. Most of their clients are co-operatives, social enterprises and charities, including Oxfam, the Co-operative Group, Shelter and many more smaller organisations.
The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust, with a mission to give children in deprived areas the chance to play Scotland’s national instrument, commissioned Media Co-op to run their social media and make a series of short films to promote the aims of the charity.
The 4-min promo following the multi-cultural band of 10-year-olds from Govan competing for the first time in the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships won a Royal Television Society Award, and a commission from the BBC for a full-length documentary film followed.
“It’s not just a pipe band,” said Iain Watson, the former policeman who tutors the Govan Schools band, “it’s the community coming together as one, regardless of your ethnic background or your religious background. It’s coming together and playing the Scottish national instrument. It can only do good for the community.”
The hour-long documentary reveals the changing face of inner-city Glasgow; Damilola from Nigeria, and Brenda, the only girl in the band, who is Chinese, illustrate the massive contribution of migrants to Scottish culture and communities.
Solomon Fadun, Damilola’s dad, came to Scotland with his family from Nigeria to study for his PhD. “In my wildest dreams I never imagined that my boy would play the bagpipes!” he said. “If somebody had told me two years ago, I would just have said ‘no, that will never happen’. I think teaching children how to play bagpipes is very good, to keep the heritage of the Scottish.”
In the UK’s “current moral panic about refugees and incomers, it’s important to underline the good of community”, says Lucinda Broadbent of Media Co-op. “You can see in the film how well the Scottish and migrant children get on: racism exists in Scotland, but racism is not natural to children, it has to be taught.
“It’s been a treat for us to make such a feel-good, upbeat film, with plenty of jokes, that also manages to convey political messages that are close to our hearts
“For media co-op, it’s a way to carry out the co-operative principle of education – without forgetting the principles of entertainment and comedy too.”
Director Paul Cameron of Media Co-op added: “We got our 10-year-olds pipers behind the camera too. They interviewed passers-by in the street – discovering Scotland’s love/hate relationships with the pipes. ‘Oh I love piping music’ says one… ‘but not in my living room!’”