The Dreaming Spools project has collected a large assortment of film footage over the course of the summer, which has had to be catalogued in our archive. We thought that we would give you a look into the depths of our archive and digitisation programme – CatDV – which we are using to keep track of all the information that we’ve been able to gather about the videos.
Sometimes it’s difficult to track down the owner, or producer, of the footage, so we do still have gaps in our information. The following film, for example, has been sent to us by someone who spotted it online, but we don’t know who took the footage, or who now owns the film! We’d love to find out, given that if the film reels still exist we could digitise them to a much higher quality. The video also looks particularly exciting, because it seems to have been filmed at the same time as James R. Savage’s films of Mount Farm Airbase- around 1944. If you know anything about it, do get in touch: email@example.com.
“Oxfordians past and present are being summoned to the aid of a new film archive set up to unearth hidden treasures of Oxford’s history and excite curiosity about its singular, enduring relationship with the moving image. The University’s Educational Media Unit, adapting Balliol poet Matthew Arnold’s still resonant description of the city, has named its project Dreaming Spools…”
If you’ve been following our blog you will know that William Lorton – great-nephew of Major James R. Savage, and owner of his film footage from his time at Mount Farm Airbase in Oxfordshire – has been involved in providing footage and expertise for the project! Our joint enthusiasm has led to a re-digitising of some of his 16mm footage to a higher quality, which got started yesterday:
We will soon have the pleasure of interviewing Derrick Knight, filmmaker and secretary of Oxford University Film Society in the early 1950s. He worked with Guy L Coté, who became president of the Society, on many projects, and describes their meeting:
“During my first term at Oxford, having done my national service as an army education sergeant, I busily explored the whole gamut of clubs and societies whose guest speakers afforded a cheap way of seeing and hearing some of the great politicians, writers and thinkers of the time. I also discovered a greater opportunity to see good films than I’d ever known – and I learned that a certain Guy Coté, a French-Canadian, was secretary of the Oxford University Film Society (OUFS). I wrote him a cheeky letter laying out my experience of film society organization and programme planning and asked if I could be of help. I was invited to come round to his bedsit for a chat. When I got there I could hardly get into his room because it was festooned with strips of film hanging from a network of strings, but by careful ducking and diving it was just possible to reach a chair. Guy, it turned out, was not only the Film Society’s secretary but also the captain of the Oxford University ski team that he had led to inter-varsity ski championships in Sestrieres in the Italian Alps that year. Not only had he competed but had also helped with the shooting of an amateur film around the event.” (http://www.guylcote.com/derick-knight/)
This 1949 Film of ‘Sestrieres’ has been kindly provided by Guy’s daughter, Natalie Coté, to whom we are most grateful for her help in our research. We’ve uploaded a preview onto our Instagram channel, which you can find here.
Natalie has also published the documents surrounding the production of the film, which detail how a training film originally budgeted at £40 became the £700 wonder that was shown in Norway, Canada, and over French television:
We’ve just launched our Instagram profile, which will keep you updated with pictures and short clips of some of the footage we’ve found in our Dreaming Spools research: http://instagram.com/dreamingspools – follow us for previews!
A few years ago, Westminster Council digitised a reel of film that was shot by the wartime mayor of Marylebone in west London, Alfred Coucher, who was also the area’s chief air raid warden.
After the war he stored the films in his attic where they were recently discovered by his family and passed on to the St Marylebone Society, an architectural preservation group of which he was founder.
The films have now been made available at ‘West End At War’, demonstrating the undertaking that Dreaming Spools aims to achieve – from attic to archive! We are receiving a great response from people who have remembered taking footage of Oxford, so keep them coming!