Film Archive preview for Fellowship

Members of Ballywillan Men’s Fellowship were given an insight into the amazing collection of moving images that have been preserved by the government backed agency Northern Ireland Screen.

Emma Thorpe, who is the agency’s archive development officer and is based in Portstewart, was the speaker at the Fellowship’s weekly meeting and outlined N.I. Screen’s key role in the field of film, television and digital imagery.

In its mission to promote a dynamic screen industry and culture in the Province, eight key areas are targeted by N.I. Screen. These include filming in Northern Ireland, investment and funding, business and skills, and funding for Irish and Ulster-Scots broadcasting, as well as education, marketing and information.

The Digital Film Archive was launched in November 2000 as part of the British Film Institute’s Millennium Project and is a free public access resource containing film footage spanning 100 years of Northern Ireland history.

After a short resume of the history of the motion picture, which really began with the work of the Lumiere Brothers in Paris in the 1890s, Emma showed a number of short film clips illustrating the scope of the archive, which now includes more than 70 hours of film with the work of digitisation ongoing.

The films chosen included several travelogues from the north coast area with interesting footage of Portrush, Portstewart and Coleraine in the 1930s. Some of the work of leading film maker Richard Hayward was included, as well as wartime footage.

Emma explained that the archive is now partly on-line but could be accessed at 22 sites across Northern Ireland. Local viewing points are at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart and the Ballymoney Museum. Among those using the archive are teachers, students, historians, tourists and people with an interest in moving images.

Subjects covered by the archive cover drama, animation, documentaries, news, newsreels and amateur and actuality film.

Thanks to Emma for a fascinating and informative morning was expressed by the Fellowship president Dr. Michael Gardiner.

Members of the Fellowship meet this Thursday at the Royal Court Hotel, Portrush, for one of their regular luncheon meetings. Talks resume on Thursday, 30 October, at 11am following the usual half hour of chat over a cup of tea or coffee. Retired and semi-retired men will be made most welcome.