Making History: Making Movies - A New Archive Challenge

11 Sep 2020

6 mins
Making History, Making Movies
Making History, Making Movies

We are very excited to support 'Making History: Making Movies', a brand new 2-year project from Wessex Film and Sound Archive, supported by the British Film Institute awarding funds from the National Lottery and Hampshire Archives Trust.

The project will collect film footage from people across the Wessex region to be included in an archive of the future. Reflecting on the restrictions early amateurs had on their filmmaking, the archive is asking for films no longer than five minutes and from the Wessex region (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight).

Amateur filmmaking has changed a lot in the past 100 years. Equipment used to be far more limited and in the 1930s, a cine camera could set you back a couple of weeks' wages. You then had to buy stock, develop it and project the finished film. It took money, time and skill. However the benefit of choosing film as a method of documentation has always been that it shows a lot about the people of that time period and the world they lived in.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, there is an increasing need to actively collect material, not only as a means of cathartic recording but also as a historical record. Now more than ever, it is important that we capture a visual record of our lived experience on film, both remarkable and mundane, which is why this is such an exciting project.

You can download our PowerPoint presentation below to hear from film archivist Zoe Viney on how the project has developed. It can be more widely used as a lesson starter to encourage young people to get involved in the challenge and the broader topic of archive film.

How can you get involved?

If you are from the Wessex area and want to submit your film, you can find all the details here.

The film can feature yourself, your surroundings or family (please be prepared to seek permission from people you film) and it can be a straight five minutes of film or an edited piece, but must record elements of the above to help paint a picture of life in 2020. Your film must consider copyright rules regarding a soundtrack or images that you do not own the rights to and you will need to complete a permission form with each submission, which is available from the submission/project page.

Please note that responsibility for proper handling of your film submission and supporting information, including Privacy Rights compliance and Safeguarding and Child protection for under 18s, rests solely with Wessex Film and Sound Archive.

Want some inspiration?

These extracts were filmed by amateur filmmakers between 1939 and 1969. Early cinecameras required a lot of light to get a really clear image, and most amateur footage from this period is filmed outside for this reason. Beach holidays, gift giving, picnics and family outings made excellent subjects. Colour film was the most expensive to get hold of so the wonderful colour shots you see in this compilation are something special. It was recently discovered that the colour stock used to film the Charminster sequence was shipped from the USA, sewn inside the jacket of a naval officer, whose convoy ship was torpedoed. Luckily for him (and us) he survived to tell the tale…and to deliver the stock to Charminster!

If you are a teacher/educator in the Wessex region and would like some support to encourage your students to take part, please email us at

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