The hidden history of Scotland’s ‘other’ film industry

Films and videos shot by some of Scotland’s pioneering amateur filmmakers will be showcased in a new exhibition opening at the City of Edinburgh Council’s Museum of Childhood today. 

This new archive has been developed through a four year research project undertaken by experts at the University of Glasgow. They have helped locate over 2,000 home movies, fiction films and sponsored documentaries made in Scotland throughout the twentieth century.

The project, entitled ‘Children and Amateur Media in Scotland’, charted the changing experiences of childhood. Together the films offer a unique and important insight into Scotland’s hidden cultural history.

It shows how children were represented by amateur filmmakers throughout the twentieth century, how they became film-makers themselves, and offers our only visual window into many domestic and community scenes, now lost, but once familiar to many.

Professor Karen Lury, Professor of Film & Television Studies and Principal Investigator of the project said: “What we have discovered is that there is ‘another world’ of Scottish film – many, many amateur film-makers, community arts workers and school teachers all making films that reveal a lively and imaginative culture that deserves to be celebrated. The industry and creativity of these amateur film-makers – young and old – rivals the professional industry in Scotland in terms of its global reach and historic importance.”

“We believe that when brought together, the resources produced through this project will create a unique and compelling visual document of Scottish popular history and of Scottish childhood that otherwise would have been lost.”

Working in collaboration with the Scottish Screen Archive, researchers have made these films available for study by experts and for public enjoyment via the SSA’s online catalogue.

The archive will allow the children of today to look back in time to see the culture and society that their parents and grandparents experienced as part of their own childhood.

Convener of Culture and Sport Richard Lewis
Convener of Culture and Sport Richard Lewis

Councillor Richard Lewis, Convener of Culture and Sport at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The Museum of Childhood is one of Edinburgh’s most loved museums with an extraordinary collection of toys and games. For over 50 years, the museum has charted the changing environments children have grown up in, and the different ways they have played.

“The films involved give a fascinating glimpse into the past and the exhibition will perfectly complement the existing collections, while offering something completely new for visitors.”