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Filmmaker’s documentary on church transformation is selected for yet another prestigious Film Festival

  • Patrick Rooney, originally from Blairgowrie, has enjoyed huge success with his documentary about the former Riverside Methodist Church, now Littles Restaurant

Digital filmmaker Patrick Rooney has revealed that his short film, “A Little Revival”, which documents the ambitious transformation of the former Riverside Methodist Church in Rattray into an award winning restaurant, has been selected for the Scottish Short Film Festival 2019.

The Festival, organised by filmmaker Chris Young, and now in its seventh year, will take place 27-28 July 2019 at the Glasgow School of Art. Held to promote and encourage filmmaking in and about Scotland, award nominees can look forward to attending the awards ceremony at the School, which will acknowledge the top films shown.

“A Little Revival”, which features filming carried out over eighteen months in total, has also enjoyed success in Europe, having been officially selected for the West Nordic International Film Festival, which took place in Norway in October 2018.

A graduate of the SAE Institute in Glasgow, Patrick, who now has his own company, “Dear Friend Films”, used to work for restauranteur Willie Little when he was at school and a student. Willie has now been running his popular Littles Restaurant in the Church since 2017, having relocated it from Wellmeadow. During his student years, Patrick was responsible for a number of creations he filmed on Willie’s behalf, such as a promotional advert, and a video called “Day in the Life of Willie Little” which was posted on YouTube. He also designed the distinctive Littles restaurant fish logo.

When he heard that Willie was taking on the hugely ambitious project of converting the historic Church, famed for its impressive central stained glass window, commemorating the Labour Corps contribution to WW1, into a restaurant, he kept in touch with the process, filming a series of short videos as the work progressed, which were posted on social media so that locals and customers alike could keep up to date with the project as it developed.  The videos then came together to make an overall short documentary detailing the project, and the people involved, from start to finish.

Willie, and his front of house assistant, Helen, are all featured speaking to camera about the project in the short film, “A Little Revival”, talking about how excited they are to be moving to the Church. There’s footage of Willie’s kitchen and food, interspersed with shots of the work on the Church, from raising floors for underfloor heating to go in, to fitting out the new restaurant kitchen. Many of the key tradesmen involved are also interviewed on the challenges they faced.

Last year, the Church was featured on STV’s Live at Five programme, with both Willie and Patrick being interviewed by STV reporters.

Littles Restaurant was voted Runner Up in the Restaurant of the Year Category in The Courier Menu Food & Drink Awards earlier this year.

Patrick said : “I am delighted to have achieved yet more recognition for my short film on the Church. It was fantastic to be listed in Norway last year, but being on my home patch with the Scottish Short Film Festival is even more special for me.”

“I was on board with the church conversion project from the very beginning, filming every six to eight weeks when the work first started, so it meant a lot to me to see it through to the end, and to capture on film the unique process. It was clearly a real labour of love for Willie and his team. It’s fitting that the amazing stainglass window, the only one in Britain dedicated to the role of the Labour Corps in WW1, is now receiving the recognition it too deserves, being seen by a much wider audience of people.”

Added Patrick: “Willie has always been a great subject to film, he is a character, and I always enjoy working with him. He now has a filmed legacy of his work at the Church for future generations.”

Willie Little said :” I am, as ever, indebted to Patrick who went over and above the call of duty making this piece of work for me, which sees all his shorter pieces of film on the Church when it was just a shell, through to opening as a restaurant, come together to tell the whole story. It’s incredible to look back on the work that has been achieved to create what you see here today – a working restaurant providing customers with the most spectacular setting in which to enjoy a meal. Patrick is doing so well in his chosen career and is very talented indeed.”

Patrick also made a film about Willie’s American Diner coming to Blairgowrie, the first in Perthshire. Willie’s second conversion project, although on a smaller scale, was to convert the old Littles Restaurant, situated at Wellmeadow, into a US themed eatery. Little America opened last year, and has also become a very popular place at which to eat in the town.

For further details on Littles Restaurant check out www.littlesrestaurant.co.uk.

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