Clíodhna - the Movie

It's a very special experience to not only watch a Fantasy movie in cinema but to actually get to produce one. Here's our shot at it - Clíodhna - the witch of Gleann an Phéine. It is set in a celtic-inspired world in a valley far in the North where the magic powers of the land are every-present, humans keep the old rituals alive, spirits roam the forest and an unconsidered step may quickly lead into the otherworld. Here, a young witch needs to get to know the villagers and protect them - sometimes from the consequences of their own actions - while learning to deal with the ancient powers of the valley herself.

The Valley

We imagine Gleann an Phéine as a broad, forest covered valley amid mighty mountain ranges, only reachable via a pass from the South, and in winter mostly cut-off from the rest of the world. The valley floor is large - perhaps a day's walk across, and covered by rolling hills and lakes.

Gleann an Phéine looking South

The epic beauty of the landscape is a major 'character' of the movie, and we try to capture it with video-compositing techniques where background imagery is merged with the foreground scene and additional elements might be brought in via bluescreen capture. The right mood of the scene and weather is a result of waiting for just the right moment and sometimes arduous trecks lugging camera equipment through deep snow-cover to the top of a local hill - but the result is worth it.

Gleann an Phéine looking West

The Village

The village of Gleann an Phéine is the only settlement in the valley - the only human settlement that is. The village is neither rich nor really poor - there are mostly farmers and foresters, hunting is done on the side, there's even a local blacksmith and during the summer season, traders occasionally visit the place or villagers treck south across the pass to the city.

The Village of Gleann an Phéine

We create the village for the movie by different techniques - wide-angle shots are done by video compositing, villagers are recorded with the bluescreen technique and merged in, and closeups are done by using various actual old huts in the neighborhood with suitable camera angles.

A villager on the path home


Clíodhna, the main character of the movie, is a young witch from the south who recently moved to the valley when she sensed the impending death of her predecessor, Fionnula, and took over the hut and guardianship of the valley when Fionnula died, as is the witches way.

She is used to a warmer climate and not overly happy with the cold winters in the valley, but all in all likes the place and takes her responsibilities seriously - the fact that she has a shrewd sense of humor and a deep-rooted optimism certainly helps.

Clíodhna in front of her hut

The villagers, used to the stern crone Fionnula are certainly not finding it easy to accept advice by a young woman and sometimes let her feel this - but appearances can be deceiving, Clíodhna commands potent magic.

Clíodhna casting a banishing spell


As assistant of the local blacksmith, Rórdán is a moderately important person in the village, and since he's usually level-headed and fair, he has become something like the village's bailiff, often called upon by the village elders when there is a problem to solve (though that role has never been formalized). As a result, he is also often tasked to speak to the 'new witch' and is one of the first villagers to get to know Clíodhna better - which is not without problems, as he has a firm idea from Fionnula how a witch should behave...

Rórdán dressed for the hunt


As the old guardian of the valley, Fionnula is used to dealing with the villagers in her own way and knows the magic of the land well. She is not happy to pass all responsibility into the hands of a young witch from the south, but as she feels her end approaching, she has to trust that Clíodhna will solve things in her own way.

Fionnula in her hut


Magic depicted in the movie is based on ideas from Wiccan and Runic magic and ritual. We generally try to keep the visuals subtle, so that the viewer might even wonder whether he's really seen anything or not. Magic always has a slow, mysterious mood which we try to emphasize by both suitable background sounds and subtly changing the background scene light and focus.

Clíodhna's banishing spell starts working.

One of the most complex examples of magic we produced thus far is a vision appearing in a bowl of water - the result of multiple render passes with multiple effect suites and a careful compositing of the streams in the end (certainly a fast computer helps).

A vision appearing in a bowl of water.


Enjoy the first teaser on YouTube:

About the project

We envision the story to develop in several episodes which follow life in the valley throughout the circle of the seasons, and are about halfway done with shooting the first episode. Producing good quality is hard work - we take about 5-10 hours on the set and in post-production for every minute of the movie. Every scene is taken in multiple camera angles to allow a good cut in the end, so the final scenes contain only a tiny fraction of the material we actually record.

The movie is shot with German dialogs, but since we will produce a DVD edition, there will be (at least) Finnish and English subtitles for the final product. At this point where're not sure yet whether there will be a low-resolution YouTube version as well - we'll see.

Stay tuned and watch this space for updates!

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Created by Thorsten Renk 2018 - see the disclaimer and contact information.