‘Launch!’ with Tobermory RNLI to celebrate Scotland’s lifeboats on film

Lifeboats News Release

'Launch! On the Sea with Scotland’s Lifeboats' – a new release of archive film and video celebrating RNLI communities across Scotland – comes to An Tobar in Tobermory on Sunday 14 November at 4pm as part of its major Scottish cinema tour.

Poster for 'Launch!'


Poster for 'Launch!'

Directed by Shona Thomson in a co-production with Screen Argyll, Launch! features a brand new immersive soundtrack composed by Jason Singh, Jenny Sturgeon, Arun Ghosh and John Ellis. After the film, some of Tobermory RNLI’s volunteer crew will be talking about their lifesaving work, and audiences are welcome to share their own stories about the RNLI.

The film has been two years in the making with unprecedented access to the RNLI’s own archives. 1920s film footage of lifeboats sourced from the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive is woven with 1960s colour promotional films and breath-taking digital video captured by RNLI crews’ 21st century helmet cameras whilst out on the wild sea. The film is part of the celebration of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21. Mull’s audience will be delighted to see featured in Launch! a film shot in 1930s Tobermory showing the naming ceremony of the lifeboat Sir Arthur Rose.

Tobermory RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Dr Sam Jones said: ‘I have been involved in Launch! since its inception and I’m very excited that it is coming to Tobermory. As well as some modern rescue footage from our station, the film features footage of the naming ceremony of the Sir Arthur Rose, Tobermory’s first lifeboat, at the fisherman’s pier in August 1939. I was fortunate to see Launch! live at Celtic Connections in January 2021 and the soundtrack is very powerful. We’re all grateful to An Tobar for not only hosting what promises to be a wonderful afternoon but for also donating the proceeds of the box office to our lifeboat station’.

Launch! features a brand new immersive soundtrack – designed specifically to be experienced in on the big screen – composed and recorded by John Ellis (who has played and recorded with Tom Jones, Lily Allen, James Yorkston, John Squire and The Cinematic Orchestra), Arun Ghosh (APPJA Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year), Jason Singh (sound artist and nature beatboxer known for regular appearances on Springwatch, Countryfile and BBC 6 Music), and Jenny Sturgeon (acclaimed singer-songwriter whose recent project The Living Mountain is a collection of songs and films inspired by Nan Shepherd). Bringing the musicians together whilst in lockdown through pioneering online mixing software was the soundtrack’s producer David McEwan (who has collaborated with Nitin Sawhney, Jeff Beck, and Sting).

Reflecting modern volunteer lifeboat crews, Launch! also features images of the women who save lives at sea in Scotland. These were made using glass plate photography by Jack Lowe as part of The Lifeboat Station Project – Jack’s eight-year mission to photograph all RNLI lifeboat stations in the UK.

Launch! is supported by EventScotland through Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21 and Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund, by The National Lottery and the Scottish Government through Screen Scotland, and Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network.

The film’s director and award-winning curator of A Kind of Seeing, Shona Thomson said: ‘However long it’s taken to make, Launch! has always been a film about celebrating and sharing the crucial work of RNLI volunteers across the country – it’s using the past to talk about the future. By bringing it to audiences in An Tobar, this tour is hopefully reaching into the heart of a lifeboat community and offering everyone a safe and special big screen immersive experience. It’s really inspiring to see the creative collaboration with RNLI Tobermory as fascinating lifeboat stories are shared alongside Launch!’.

Jason Singh, who collaborated with Shona on their successful Following the Fleet UK tour in 2017, said: ‘Creating the soundtrack for Launch! was an incredible experience. We had a dream team of creative and technical virtuosity and wanted to create a score that honoured the emotion and power of the footage and that of the work of the RNLI. We also wanted to bring together acoustic and electronic musical worlds to reflect tradition and also modernity. I hope people get to experience the amazing work that the RNLI and the wider communities have done over the years’.

Roger Lockwood CB, Chair of the RNLI Scottish Council, said: “This is a truly unique and exciting opportunity for audiences to see for themselves the operations of the RNLI in Scotland. Scotland's 46 lifeboat stations provide coverage for some of the most dangerous coastal waters in the world - used not just for leisure or transport, but also for people's essential livelihood. I am delighted that through Launch! a wider public will be able to appreciate the selflessness of our Lifeboat volunteers who put their own lives at risk to save others’.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said: ‘We are pleased to be supporting the Scottish cinema tour of Launch! On the Sea with Scotland’s Lifeboats as part of Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21. Scotland offers the perfect stage to celebrate our coastal traditions and this tour gives audiences around the country the chance to experience a unique insight into the vital work of the RNLI and lifeboat communities’

RNLI Media Contacts

For further information, please contact

Dr Sam Jones, Tobermory RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager and Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07747601900 or samantha_jones@rnli.org.uk

Martin Macnamara, Regional Media Officer (Scotland), 07920 365929 or martin_macnamara@rnli.org.uk

Gemma McDonald, Regional Media Manager (Scotland), 07826 900639 or gemma_mcdonald@rnli.org.uk

Notes for EditorsEditors Notes

Shona Thomson is an award-winning independent creative producer and curator based in Edinburgh and through A Kind of Seeing she’s presented live cinema events reaching over 8000 people across the UK and internationally. Driven by a passion for connecting people and places with their heritage, Shona has been producing and curating film events, festivals and tours for over 20 years, including a long association with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, new commissions for the Glasgow Film Festival, and producing the first five years of the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, Scotland's only event dedicated to silent film with live performance. akindofseeing.co.uk / @urbantwitcher / Facebook

Screen Argyll supports all forms of film exhibition, promotion and engagement throughout Argyll, providing opportunities for remote communities to connect through film with the widest possible audience. Digital technologies and film offer people and communities new opportunities to tell their stories, develop skills and open doors to careers in a growth industry. screenargyll.co.uk / @screenargyll / Facebook

Launch! On the Sea with Scotland’s Lifeboats is supported by:Scotland’s Coasts and Waters will be showcased throughout 2020 and 2021 and celebrated with a programme of activity designed to support the nation’s tourism and events sectors. The year, led by VisitScotland will sustain and build upon the momentum of Scotland’s preceding Themed Years to spotlight, celebrate and promote opportunities to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled Coasts and Waters, encouraging responsible engagement and participation from the people of Scotland and our visitors. A year-long programme of events, activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink – whisky. Following an industry consultation, the Themed Years will now take place every second year to enable more time for planning and collaboration. 2022 will celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories. Join the conversation using #YCW2021.

Screen Scotland is the dedicated partnership for screen in Scotland. With funding from Scottish Government and the National Lottery, Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of the sector in Scotland, through enhanced funding, services and support. Screen Scotland sits within Creative Scotland and is a partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.