Celebrating Home Movies

October 19th is the official Home Movie Day, an annual international celebration of amateur films and filmmaking. In honour of the celebrations, YFA would like to share with you some of its most loved films.

Director John Walters once said, “There’s no such thing as a bad home movie. These mini-underground opuses are revealing, scary, joyous, always flawed, filled with accidental art, and shout out from attics and closets all over the world to be seen again.”  The YFA has a vast collection of home movies dating right back to the beginnings of amateur filmmaking.  Many of these films are intimate portraits which give contemporary audiences a fascinating view into the past, allowing them to connect with a history in a way different from any other.  

If you’re interested in home movies from the YFA collection, here are a few suggestions for viewing:

YFA 2015 Yorkshire Beaches (1945)

Sunny days spent at the beach, laughing and splashing about in the ocean, roaming around the countryside and scenic gardens, and all filmed in beautiful Kodachrome.  Upon first glance, it’s hard to believe this film was made just as the Second World War was coming to an end.  Despite the dangers and restrictions brought on by the war, families tried to maintain as close to a normal life as possible, partaking in many of the same activities as they had done previously including filming the family holiday at the seaside.  Though film was rationed at the time, filmmaker Billy Ibberson kept in touch with business contacts in America who would send parcels to the Ibberson family packed full of goods including hard to come by colour film.  Filming family, civic, and community events for over 60 years, Ibberson always had a camera by his side.  He was keen to create a record, a pictorial history of the world around him, and even wartime rationing of 16mm film stock would keep this filmmaker from doing so.  

YFA_2063 Harrison Compilation (1950s)

Fishing is one of the oldest industries known to man, and following the Second World War, the fishing industry boomed, elevating Hull to the third largest port and busiest fishing port in Britain.  The quayside of Hull was a hive of activity with over five thousand dockworkers working throughout the day, and many times, into the night as well.  The film was made by fish merchant David Harrison who took over the family business at St. Andrew’s Fish Docks from his grandfather.  Harrison, who bought his first camera in the late 1940s, very much enjoyed his hobby and frequently took his camera with him, filming his family and aspects of everyday life including his son playing on his bike in the back garden and even his wife ironing. The intimacy and playfulness of those home movies is also present in the footage taken of the docks.  While Harrison set out to document an industry and way of life which he felt was soon to change, he was also capturing his family and friends, and it is that sense of camaraderie which comes through.   The result is a film which gives a remarkable insight into the industry, culture, and community which has since largely vanished from Hull and other fishing ports.   

YFA_2204 RAYS (1944)

Although it was filmed at a time of immense destruction and upheaval, this vivid portrait of young people at leisure in 1944 shows that the carefree spirit of youth was manifest even during the Second World War. Filmmaker Kenneth Raynor, who can be seen in the film wearing glasses, worked as a chemist at a steelworks in Sheffield and registered himself as a conscientious objector during the conflict. An avid collector, Raynor was inspired by Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy in his understanding of the possibilities of photography and film, and a number of his films reflect this influence. Due to the war, however, film stock was difficult to get hold of, and this film represents a rare example of the “home movie” during this time. Sadly, Kenneth’s experimental sensibilities were unable to be gratified for long, as he died of meningitis in 1947, at the age of only 29.

YFA_2660 Skating and Snow (1953)

Made by a Sheffield based amateur filmmaker, K.G. Tofield, Skating and Snow is a collection of four films which capture the beautiful winter scenery and talented skaters in the Sheffield area.  The extract chosen is filmed at Forge Dam in the winter of 1953.

YFA_3162 Flowers for Leeds (1953)

Flowers for Leeds is competition sponsored yearly by the Yorkshire Post in which a variety of residents in different postal districts take part in getting their gardens into the best order.  This film takes a look at some of the contestants, and each house and gardener are identified by intertitles.  The film was made by a members of the Leeds Cine Club.

YFA_3368 Weekend Travels (1957)

Castleford amateur filmmaker Eric Bolderson filmed several trips to Scarborough in the 1950s.  On this occasion a coachload of Eric’s friends join him for a meal out and much larking about on the South Bay.  Although all adults, judging by their playful antics on the beach, they seem to have reverted to a second childhood.  Eric Bolderson ran a bookies’ in Castleford, following his father, and was well known locally, especially for his sense of humour.  In fact his films of the people of Castleford in the 1950s and ‘60s – which he would show in a makeshift cinema in his small attic – seem to reveal a whole town that was able to enjoy life, and many in Castleford are now very grateful that Eric was around to capture this.  

YFA_4866 Yorkshire Camping and Caravanning Club (1937-1938)

Made by club member Frank Charman, this film shows members of the Yorkshire District Association at their various camping weekends in 1937 and 1938.  The film captures the lively and fun atmosphere of the trips as well as the scenic landscapes surrounding the campsites.  The extract is from the camp at Fulwith Mill, near Harrogate during the Club’s annual “Ladies weekend.”

YFA_4899 Too Many Cooks (1966)

Made my Alan Sidi, member of the Mercury Movie Makers, this film is a light-hearted, slapstick comedy about what happens when two children are left alone in the kitchen to bake a cake.  The film features Alan, his wife, and his two children Fiona and Paul.

To find out more about Home Movie Day, celebrations in the UK and around the world, visit the official HMD website http://www.homemovieday.com/