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16 October 2014
Super 8 Stories

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Super-8 Stories producer Dermot Lavery answered your questions during a live event on Sunday 21st December 2003. In this transcript of that chat, he talks about the background to the series, how it came about and how you can submit your films for inclusion in a new series in the New Year.

Charlene asks: Dermot, loved the series! How did it come about?

Dermot Lavery: Most of the production crew in their past had experienced home movies in their own family situation and we all had considered that home movies would make a great basis for a series. To tell an alternative history of Northern Ireland in the last 50 years. Then most recently we heard some rumours that some material had almost been thrown out to be lost forever and we managed to intervene and save that material. It was at that moment we realised that we had to make this series. If nothing else to save these wonderful images for future generations.

Marty asks: Was it difficult to find people willing to allow their old films to be used?

Dermot Lavery: I could say in all honesty we were overswhelmed by the response from the public wanting to make their stuff available, not only to see for themselves images that they might not have seen since their own youth, but also in recognition that we were actually instigating something really exciting. So in that context we received footage from over 100 people amounting to hundreds of hours and we were barely able to process the volume.

George asks: How long did it take you to get all the material together for the series?

Dermot Lavery: We researched the material for 5 months using the local press, local radio, networks of individuals in towns and villages throughout Northern Ireland, involving individuals who we know were very aware of what had been filmed in those towns and villages across the decades. In Northern Ireland there has been a fine tradition of amateur movie making societies. We are actually a very visual society and in putting the project together, we discovered some wonderfully crafted films made, not by professionals, but by amateurs.

Karine asks: How have people reacted to seeing their private films broadcast on television?

Dermot Lavery: In every case the feed back has been wonderful, and in all honesty I can say there has not been one negative response. I think truly that the images have struck a nerve for how people have experienced life in Northern Ireland over the last 50 years, perhaps images that get more to the core of what it is to live every day in Northern Ireland.

Cheryl asks: Do you have a favourite Super-8 story?

Dermot Lavery:
In the series, I have a number of favourites. Each of those favourites are my favourites for different reasons. There are images for instance, the divers that appeared in programme 3, that are truely startling, while there are other super-eight stories that come to life because of the wonderfully articulate telling of the stories behind the footage. A good example of that is the Dopey Dick story from Derry.

Colin asks: Were there any films you couldn't use - and why?

Dermot Lavery: We entered this project and realised that we were being given priviledged access to people's lives and private archives. There was always an understanding that people in advance of editing the programme would have a chance to say whether they wanted some material of theirs in or out of the programme. This was a promise we were more than happy to fulfill. At the end of the day, this footage is not ours, this footage belongs to the people who filmed it.

Lurgan asks: Will there be a second series of Super 8 Stories, I can't wait, loved the series!!!

Dermot Lavery: Yes there is a second series already in the planning and - who knows - maybe even more after that. We are not going to say that this is a bottomless well, but we certainly do feel that we have only scratched the surface. In fact we feel a keen sense of responsibility and feel that within a generation most of this kind of material if not gathered and recorded could be lost forever. I think this is possibly what excites us most. We feel ultimately that the value of these images is not monetary, but in actual fact deeply cultural. And if these images are precious now, in a generation they will be truly invaluable.

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