Posted on December 20, 2013
I cut this mini movie together using 16mm footage from my Granddad Harvey’s trip to England in the 60’s. What struck me most during my first few look-throughs, was how seemingly generic his choice of subject matter was and that there was nearly 30 minutes running time of it.
Assuming that the equipment Harvey was carrying was pretty bulky, that setup would have taken some time and that film as well as processing would have been expensive, I couldn’t imagine what was he doing pulling over to the side of the road to film sheep.
In fact, my first thought was, it’s the kind of images people today, with limitless digital storage and Facebook walls to fill, fire off at will. We’ve all got a keen eye for “sharable” content that has mass appeal and is intentionally none too personal, so that even those in our wider circles will find it interesting.
That was my takeaway at least, until my Dad saw a few clips and told me with a laugh,
“Harvey took all that footage to just show the people back home how backwards things were over there”.
Well that changes things. We’re actually watching something made for the consumption of a wider audience! Not the same collection of acquaintances and networkers we have in mind when we take a photo to be published on our social media feeds today of course, but an audience non-the less.
Add to this, the fact that the trip would have been Harvey’s first encounter with the old world (his family moved north with the British Empire Loyalists after the American Revolution) and the steam trains and market scenes were all as alien to him as to a time traveller. Perhaps even more so considering all the British period dramas get on TV.
All this has led me to question the extent to which our constant access to such a large audience, has changed the way we document our lives and perhaps even to some extent, changed the way we value our personal experiences.
And I wonder if having the above information will change the way you view the film if you play it second time?