Sweden, UK


SCHEME BIRDS bursts with the frustration of a generation of Scots let down by society’s promises. We see the fading steel town through the eyes of Gemma, a soon-to-be mother on the verge of adulthood. In a place where you “either get knocked up or locked up,” Gemma carves out brief moments of tenderness amidst the violence of her local scheme.

Director's Statement

By exploring the universal experience of ‘growing up’ we hope to reach an audience that doesn’t necessarily have an insight into south’s situation in deprived areas of Europe, but can relate to their stories.
It all started three years ago when we first met Gemma in a so-called ‘scheme’, a social housing estate outside Glasgow, Scotland. She was a cocky girl telling us stories and unlikely anecdotes. It was her who told us “You should make a film about me!”. Gemma then introduced us to her world, where young teams fight each other and ex-prisoners care for pigeons. We became fascinated with her unique perspective of her surroundings and with the fact that violence had plagued the area and her family through her whole life. The same that year Gemma was born, the steelworks next to the scheme were shut down. The area that once had been “supplying the whole world with steel” was now gone and the people were left disappointed with increasing unemployment. Today very few in the scheme believe they will ever get a job or a better life. “Here you either get knocked up or locked up,” Gemma explains. And it's hard to fight your way out when there's nowhere to go. With SCHEME BIRDS we wish to capture this state of mind from the youth’s perspective. Through Gemma’s eyes we see the aftermath of a societal collapse – a story traditionally told about and by hardened men. But in Gemma's story there is also hope for a better future. She gets determined to find a safe path. Instead of a grim portrait of Scotland – we hope to reveal the unspoken hope, bravery and colour that can be found anywhere, if you take the opportunity to look hard enough.
Although we don’t live in a Scottish scheme, we know the feeling of being stuck between childhood and adulthood.

Director's Biography

Ellen studied Documentary Film Directing at the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts. She has directed the award-winning short films KEEP ME SAFE (2014), and LONE DADS (2015), which premiered to critical acclaim. Both of these films are set in deprived areas in Scotland. She is also currently co-directing a further feature documentary JOSEFIN & FLORIN (2019). She has been selected for CPH:LAB;12 for the Future, and IDFA Academy.

Ellinor is a director and cinematographer with a background in documentary filmmaking. Over the years, she has worked on numerous productions and moving freely between documentary and fiction, working often with Swedish Television SVT and Zentropa Sweden. Current cinematography work includes Lukas Moodysson’s GÖSTA, the first ever Swedish original HBO series, premiering in the autumn 2019. Ellinor’s work on the feature film IN I DIMMAN earned her a Guldbagge nomination for Best Cinematography in 2019.

2019 -JOSEFIN & FLORIN, doc.
2018 - DET ÄR INTE DIG DET ÄR FEL PÅ, DET ÄR MIG, short doc.
2016 - LONE DADS, short doc.
2015 - MY MOTHER, short doc.
2014 - KEEP ME SAFE, short doc.

ELLINOR HALLIN - as cinematographer
2019 - GÖSTA, HBO series
2019 -JOSEFIN & FLORIN, doc.
2018 - IN I DIMMAN, doc.
2018 - LIVING.LOVING, doc.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin

Written by: Ellinor Hallin, Ellen Fiske

Produced by: Mario Adamson, Ruth Reid

Cinematography: Ellinor Hallin

Editing: Hanna Lejonqvist

Original Score: Charlie Jefferson

Nominations and Awards

  • Documentary Selection 2019