Film, TV & Animation
Picture The Past
By David Keller
Earlham High School, in conjunction with The Garage, the NELM Development Trust and BBC Voices in Norwich, have turned true wartime stories from Norfolk into a visual reality.
The films tell real Norfolk war stories
Picture The Past follows experiences of war torn Norfolk portrayed through the eyes of young people from Earlham High School.
Based on memories from Stella Tuddenham and Beryl Riches at Fellowes Close Sheltered Housing Complex in North Earlham, Norwich, young people at the school have turned their memories of the Second World War into reality.
The two short films are to be premiered at Cinema City in Norwich on Thursday, 16 October, 2008, with further screenings hoping to be held in the future.
The project was set up by The Garage, the creative training and development centre in Norwich that specialises in developing arts for children and young people.
The Garage was developed through a partnership between the NELM Development Trust, a community based programme that develops community links in the North Earlham, Larkman and Marlpit areas of Norwich and Norwich Theatre Royal.
The project was supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Nicky Adamson, Strategic Director at The Garage, was at the forefront in bringing the project to reality and was very pleased that it came into fruition.
"The young people were involved right from the start. Our core purpose is working with young people and since early 2008, we have made sure they have been the main focus in the project," said Nicky.
The films look at two differing experiences of childhood and young adulthood during World War II.
The films reflect Norfolk during WWII
Beryl Riches' story depicts how she was devastated that her strict father sold her doll collection to an American GI and how it has left a mark on her ever since.
Stella Tuddenham's story, however, highlights the plight of having her husband drafted into conscription and not hearing from him again for six years while he was held captive in a prisoner-of-war camp.
The stories were selected by the young people at Earlham High School with help from Sarah Bower, who facilitated an earlier reminiscence project with older people from the NELM area, which were collected into a book in 2007.
Once the young people had chosen the stories they wished to use, they visited Stella and Beryl at Fellowes Close to capture their unique experiences and gain a true feel for the feature.
Preparations for the films began back in February 2008, where they were made possible with the technical and directing expertise of freelance film maker Pete Harmer.
Pete was hired by The Garage for the project, providing workshops in the school, at The Garage and at BBC Voices for the young people to learn about script writing, camera techniques, editing, sound recording, constructing narrative, makeup and costume.
Pete Harmer filming one of the scenes
In addition, the East Anglian Film Archive aided the project by allowing the children to select war time footage from their collection to use in the films and to gain a true idea for what life was like in 1940's Norfolk.
The air-raid sirens then signaled for the children to act and record the films for the big screen.
"The children have a real natural talent for drama. They worked out details of the elderly people's lives to put directly into acting, such as certain traits and sayings of people from around the time," said Pete.
The 20 students filmed in various locations during their extra curricular time including two days at Denny Abbey Museum near Cambridge, which features a classic 1940's house.
In addition, filming took place at Weybourne Station on the North Norfolk railway line, which houses various steam trains dating from the 1940's period. Earlham Park also provided a useful location for shooting war scenes.
"The children from Earlham have got a huge amount out of this project. They've worked fantastically well as a team," said Pete.
"Time has been spent on getting all the things right. The inter-generational aspect has been at the heart of it all," he added.
The response from The Garage, the young people and the staff from Earlham High School has been overwhelming, with the final videos proving a great success.
Students acted and filmed the memories
Drama teacher Gaia Shaw was thrilled that the students achieved their aims.
"It has been really exciting for me and the students. Seeing something so polished and professional is great for their self esteem and pride," said Gaia.
"It raises the profile of the arts in the school, the school itself and the local community. It's been a great way to picture our past," she added.
Student Lisa Manning was also very pleased with the efforts of her colleagues.
"I ended up gaining a huge interest in drama - I enjoyed dressing up and had lots and lots of fun," she said.
last updated: 09/03/2009 at 15:50