Beyond place: Rethinking British amateur films through gender and technology-based perspectives

Paul Frith, Keith Johnston

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Archiving practices of amateur film collections tend to foreground the evidentiary value of such films, stressing visual records of local or national culture through the capturing of specific events or locations. This article looks at two projects which offer alternative approaches to this traditional stress on place-making, focusing instead on different production practices, technological choices, and aesthetic approaches.

The Women Amateur Filmmakers in Britain project revealed a rich vein of women-produced films that spanned seven decades of the twentieth century and featured films from a variety of genres (drama, comedy, animation, documentary, travelogues) and modes of production (single author, team, husband-and-wife collaboration). The second project, ‘The Eastmancolor Revolution and British Cinema, 1955-85’, identified and digitised seven amateur films that utilised a range of different colour processes.

This article offers a reflection on these two projects, and their different approaches to understanding aspects of British amateur film collections. Intellectually distinct in terms of subject matter, the projects share a methodological interest in the challenges around identifying and selecting ‘appropriate’ films for digitisation, locating contextual materials around the production of each film, and engaging a wider audience with non-place-based amateur archival material.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129–137
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Early online date27 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • amateur
  • gender
  • women filmmakers
  • British cinema
  • colour film

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