Doo or die...

Paul Fegan's short documentary Pouters is one of the latest Bridging the Gap films, premiering this week. Here are his thoughts on the process.

Pouters is my first short film and has opened up new worlds for me. From the open wasteland of Cranhill, Glasgow to the pages of Darwin's 'Origin of Species' in search of the world behind the Pouter pigeon.

Over the past 9 months, I've been submerged in making what will be Scotland's premier film on one of the country's oldest and little known sports: Doo Fleein'. 40 hours of footage later, countless directional changes as characters came and went and pigeons were won and lost...

Prior to Pouters I'd made mainly music videos so set off on this project as a filmmaker new start. Everything along the journey has been a process of learning. Luckily I struck gold with my subjects not only being ace doo men at the top of their sport – they also had patience abound to allow me unfettered access to the sport and their lives. I was also fortunate enough to find a kindred spirit in editor David Arthur who took me under his wing and guided me through the intricate world of telling a real story. 

I find it hard to put into a concise and not too long-winded answer what exactly I've learned from making my first film. Most elements in the process have been new and challenging – a total whirlwind of emotions from pitching the idea to endless hours considering how we present this idiosyncratic sport. I think the overriding feeling I've been left with is one that you need to be willing to adapt from the story that's in your head from the outset, as there is potentially a better one developing that needs your attention. Initially I felt like I was being blown off course when I went with new characters and storylines – but what resulted was for me a much better film. 

The film is a reflection of all the doo men I met while researching and shooting the project. The main focus is the rivalry between competitors, as this has been the life blood of it for over a 150 years. The sport itself is laden with detail and unwritten rules but the basics are very simple, as Danny explains in the trailer.

It's a film that tells of the age-old sporting battle between men and their will to win at any odds. It will make you happy, perhaps even shed a small tear, but should ultimately illuminate a corner of Scottish culture that is as poetic and moving as any sport – and one which should be included in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Pouters and the other Bridging the Gap shorts are screening on Wednesday 27 June 2012 at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Info and tickets. 

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