THE island of Papa Westray (Papay) is one of the smallest in Orkney, with a population of fewer than 90 people.

It is home to the oldest stone house in northern Europe and the world’s shortest flight (90 seconds from Westray.)

It is one of the last places you’d expect a big movie production to descend on.

However, Nora Fingscheidt brings Hollywood to the remote island for her adaptation of Amy Liptrot’s best-selling memoir The Outrun.

Rona, fresh out of rehab, returns to Orkney after more than a decade in London. As she reconnects with the dramatic landscape where she grew up, memories of her childhood merge with the challenging events that have set her on the path to recovery.

When Fingscheidt first read Liptrot’s memoir she was incredibly moved by its brutal honesty of its depiction of recovery and sobriety.

“She was describing her experience as an alcoholic but also being so open about the process of recovery and how it goes in circles,” the director said. “I want to create empathy for anyone who’s dealing with addiction but also anyone close to people dealing with addiction, and give hope for recovery.

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“Recovery is tough, it’s one day at a time maybe for the rest of your life. I am very inspired by Amy’s life and how she turned the extremes she grew up with into something constructive.”

The director said it was a “massive responsibility” to make a movie about a real person and her family so wanted Liptrot on board for the creative process and to work with her as closely as possible to do her story justice. The writer even acted as a tour guide for the cast and crew around Papay, taking them to the places described in her memoir and introducing them to the local community.

Liptrot didn’t have any “extreme emotional responses” during the initial stages but Fingscheidt said the writer was incredibly moved after watching the first cut, so much so that she said how she has “started to forget which are my real memories” and that “some of the scenes in the film are more vivid than my memories are”.

Fingscheidt added: “I think for her it’s a pretty crazy and mind-blowing experience. She has said she doesn’t remember the real things any more because the visuals and images are very heavy. If you see something it’s hard to forget it. Now her life blends with the movie version.”

Fingscheidt does an effective job at capturing the beauty of Orkney alongside the brutality of the landscape, as nature becomes one of the central characters of the movie.

The National: Drama and more drama when you visit Papa Westray

She said: “It is very beautiful but also it’s harsh and a very unusual landscape. It’s not a paradise with palm trees. We tried to capture all of that, the beauty and the roughness.

“We had to adapt our shooting schedule to the necessities of nature. We wanted to film lambs being born so we had to go in April in lambing season. We wanted to film birds nesting in the cliffs so we had to go in June for a second pre-shoot. We had to be on our toes at all times.”

The director jokingly added that her job “relies on a certain trust in the universe”, that everything was going to work out and just had to remain extremely flexible to find other creative solutions to issues.

Only a bare-bones crew went to Papay, to avoid complete disruption to the locals’ lives. It was a unique project for everyone involved as there is no hotel on the island. Instead, the cast and crew were hosted for four weeks in islanders’ homes.

Fingscheidt said: “There is a small hostel that holds about 12 but we had more so people were giving us their homes. It was a beautiful experience waking up in the wonderful little home of Tim and Jennifer, my host family, we grew together like a family. Waking up every morning and seeing the sea and going for a swim with the seals was a very magical experience.”

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Fingscheidt and Liptrot visited the island several times before pre-shoots and hosted a meeting to answer any questions from locals. Real “Orkney spirit” was also infused within the film as islanders feature in the movie – a no-brainer for Fingscheidt as it made the film feel as authentic as possible.

The movie shines a spotlight on Orcadian traditions and culture, most notably with their recreation of the Muckle Supper, an annual harvest supper with local food and a Papay dance.

The real Muckle Supper is typically held around November but the locals got together with the crew and recreated the event for the movie.

Fingscheidt said: “The locals taught us how to do it, they were basically recreating their own lives for us to film. I was most amazed by the dances. I found that every island has their own, some are specific to Papay and some to Westray.

“People have been dancing this way for hundreds of years and sometimes it really hit me when filming about how beautiful the tradition was.”