AN intimate glimpse into family life on a North-East sheep farm could be screened to national and international audiences, if the film-maker raises £7,000.

Magali Pettier, a former fellow of Teesside University’s DigitalCity, is gathering donations to complete her project, which involved spending 18-months filming tenant farmers Tom and Kay Hutchinson and their children, Jack, Esme and Hetty, on their Bail Hill farm, at Forest-in-Teesdale, in County Durham.

Independent film-maker Ms Pettier, who grew up on her family’s farm in France, has 60 hours of footage to edit into a 60 to 80-minute documentary, entitled Addicted To Sheep.

Once completed, she hopes to screen the documentary at national and international film festivals and, sometime in the future, televise the programme.

She spent about 35 days in total with the Hutchinsons over the different seasons, filming the family at work and play, and described spending Christmas 2011 with them as the highlight of the project.

Ms Pettier said: “It was a privilege and so special to gain access.

“The weather was very tough sometimes. It was always cold and windy.

“The temperature often dropped by five or six degrees from what it was in Gateshead, where I lived.

“I was very conscious of getting the right balance of authenticity of their lifestyle and not intruding too much.

“It was very challenging but fascinating.”

She also captured footage within the local community, including at the nearby primary school and agricultural sales and shows.

She added: “It was important for me to capture opinions about living and working in this area from people of all ages.

“My quest revealed that for some people, despite the difficulties, upland farming is not only attractive but compulsive – hence the film’s title Addicted to Sheep.”

Ms Pettier, who received support from Teesside University, Northern Film and Media and the Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services during the initiative, hopes to complete the editing process by mid-July.

To finish the four-year project, she needs to raise £7,000 and has asked for sponsorship through the film’s website before the end of April.

A series of pledges are on offer in return for donations.

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