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Projecting the Past The Portraits


Projecting the Past The Portraits


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Projecting the Past The Portraits Photography by Tom Catchesides

Collated and edited by Peter Harmer and Lesley Morgan


This publication accompanies the film ‘Projecting the Past’, a Stories film project in association with the Sawston Cinema Club and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Copyright © 2009 Sawston Cinema All rights reserved Published by Stories – Projects in Film All photographs © Tom Catchesides www.catchesides.co.uk Archive photographs courtesy of the Cambridgeshire Local Collection Cover image istockphoto.com Edited by Peter Harmer and Lesley Morgan

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Introduction

Sawston Village College was the first community college in the country. It realised the vision of its founder, Henry Morris, whose aspiration it was to bring excellence in education to the rural setting of Sawston. He also believed that the village college would be ‘the community centre of the neighbourhood’ and that ‘it would not only be the training ground for the art of living, but the place in which life is lived’. This project encompasses Morris’s philosophy entirely: it has already brought our young people and the older residents of the village together; all have enjoyed the experience; the generation gap has been bridged with ease; young people have learned from their elders and enjoyed their memories of times past; films have played to full houses since the cinema opened its doors; in short, it has brought school and community together – the core purpose of any village college. As Principal of the College I have been delighted with the creativity, enthusiasm, commitment and hard work of our young people, as they have trained in the many aspects of running the cinema. That it will be, we believe, the only youth-led cinema in the country is an enormous credit to them all. They should take great pride in their achievement as we take great pride in them. I am deeply indebted to Lesley Morgan, our Arts Development Manager, whose vision and belief in her cinema team have made possible the return of cinema to Sawston. She has planned strategically, raised funds, established networks of enthusiasts and succeeded in creating a wonderful focus for the local community. Thank you, Lesley. We are also very grateful to the growing number of enthusiasts who have shared their knowledge, their skill and their interest with our young people to the benefit of all. Long may that continue and develop. And, of course, to our funders, to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their support of the Sawston Cinema Archive Project, to South Cambridgeshire District Council, embodied in Andy O’Hanlon, its Arts Development Officer, to the Cambridge Film Trust, to the UK Film Council and to the many other organisations who have helped, our warmest thanks for enabling us transform vision to reality. June Cannie Principal


Sawston Cinema Archive Project

In April 2007 the Cambridge Film Trust approached Sawston Village College with the offer of a 35mm projector and support in ‘returning’ cinema to Sawston. This resulted in a project being planned which would establish a cinema run by young people from the school for the local community. It made perfect sense for the Cambridge Film Trust to have approached the school with this offer as the school already had a former cinema building on its site and, furthermore, a parish plan exercise had shown there was demand for cinema locally. In November 2007, young people interested in film were recruited, and the project began in earnest with a fundraising campaign to secure cinema equipment. It was also shortly after this that it began to emerge that the enthusiastic group of young people, who were meeting in what they knew as the Youth & Community Centre, had no idea that this very same building had previously been a cinema. As the group’s interest in film and cinema grew while they worked to bring cinema back to Sawston, so too did their desire to find out more about the original cinema. It was this then that led to the idea for a heritage project to trace the history of cinema in Sawston. This heritage project, which has been supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, has involved young people working with members of the local community. Together, they have shared both memories and discoveries, and the result of this fruitful collaboration is a film, ‘Projecting the Past’. The film is supported by a website: www.sawstoncinema.org.uk/archive, and project activities have been commemorated in an artwork for the cinema building. Cinema has recently returned to Sawston, and, thanks to older members of the local community, the young people from Sawston Village College responsible for the current cinema now understand the significance of their rich local cinema heritage. The community, too, now has a valuable archive of cinema memories and regular film screenings locally. Lesley Morgan Arts Development Manager

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Young people

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“I enjoyed using the video camera and holding the

microphone on the boom pole to help make the film.

Sawston resident Keith told me a really interesting story about a magician who performed here once in the olden days. I was pleased that story ended up in the film.� Hamish Freebairn

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“I was one of the presenters in the film. It was quite hard to learn the lines but then I got used to it and really enjoyed it. After the preview film screening

we were told we were like professionals. I felt really proud and I’d like to be a TV presenter now.

I’ve ushered a few times at the new cinema, which is great because you get to chat to people and

they can see how nice and welcoming we are. I’d really like to see the cinema progress so the next generation can enjoy films here as well.” James O’Dell

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“I really enjoy working in the projection box at

Sawston Cinema. I was part of the group that went to the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse for cinema projection training. It’s amazing to see how the

technology has changed over time from the old film reels to the new digital projectors. It was good to

see how it was done professionally. Over time we can try and make it more like that in Sawston.” Peter Noble

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“I had no idea this Youth Centre used to be a

cinema. Learning about the heritage of the building and our school has been brilliant. Finding out about the conflict between Harry Spicer and Henry Morris was especially interesting.� Jack Sawcer

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“I’ve really enjoyed putting the trailer for the film

together because it’s been an opportunity to do editing

for the first time and get used to the software. I’m really

pleased with it. When I leave Sawston I would like to do film studies and one day work in the film industry. This

project has given me the opportunity to get really into it.” Sven Mattes

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“I really like coming into the cinema to help when we

screen films. I’m usually a bar keeper. We sell all sorts of

sweets and drinks, and it’s nice to meet the community.” Lars Mattes

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“I like films so much. In a film something quite simple can be turned into something really extraordinary. I definitely want to be a filmmaker one day, and this project has been brilliant. I’ve learnt loads.

It was nice meeting the residents. Pearl and Paul were really funny. I played Bryan in the film.

Playing the part gave me a good viewpoint on what cinema was like in the olden days.” John Grant

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“I found it fun and exciting to use the video cameras and all the technology. I would like to carry on learning how to use it. If I ever get the chance, I’d like to make a film

of my own about horses. It was really cool to talk to the

residents about their memories of films and the cinema.” Emily Elsom

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“I have loved this project because working with

all the filming equipment is totally new for me. I enjoy coming to cinema club because I’ve made

new friends, and it’s just really fun. It’s brilliant that there is a cinema close to my house now.” Rachel Saunders

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“It was really fun to play the part of Peter in

the film. I had to dress up in clothing from the

1940s, which made me look really funny. Peter

was a boy that liked the cinema at the time and was always going there, a bit like me now.� Alex Deloukas

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“The cinema club gives me time to get out of the

house, and it’s a fun thing to do. My favourite part has been working with Sam and learning about the animation software. We took the memories of the

residents and turned them into short 2-D animations. It would be so cool to see loads of people coming here to the cinema, especially in the holidays.” Reece Wells

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“Along with the artwork and filming, I’ve been editing

a trailer for the film. I’ve learnt how to import the video files into the adobe editing programme. I’m looking forward to completing the trailer and showing it at

the screening. I’m glad there is a cinema in Sawston again. It’s lovely to be able to walk to a cinema now. The residents were really nice. They were happy to answer any of our questions.” Hannah Gentle

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“In ‘Projecting the Past’ I played the part of Keith so I had to get a good impression of him; what he was like in that time and now. I thought about what it

would have been like to be a boy growing up during a war and how scared he would have been, despite

the fact that he was excited to see the magician. I’ve learnt a lot of history in this project, in terms of

facts and also people’s emotions during the time. I love having a cinema in Sawston. You no longer have to get a bus to Cambridge, just a short ride and, ‘Bob’s your Uncle’, you have a cinema!” Mitch Harland

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“I love working in the front-of-house in the cinema. I enjoy serving people, meeting people, counting the money and the responsibility behind it.

It was interesting meeting the residents and finding out about their memories of cinema in the past. I

would love to see this cinema now become a main

part of the town so everybody that drives past knows what’s happening here and what it can offer them.� Brogan Nolan

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“I helped with the acting in the recreation of Ruby’s

memory. It was fun to be part of the acting process and to learn how films are constructed. If I could show any film

at Sawston Cinema, I would show ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’. It’s a film with amazing performances.” Safiyya Winter

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“One of the stories we decided to dramatise

was Ruby’s story. Ruby was an usherette in

the cinema when the American GIs had come over during World War 2. I played Ruby. It was fun and the costumes were interesting.

I’d really like to be involved with the cinema here, even after I leave the school. I want to go on to

study film and I’d like to make the most use of the editing facilities and the equipment here now.” Erin Kelly

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“I’m really interested to see how cinemas operate behind the scenes and I’m looking forward to learning more

about the projection side. I’d like to go on to learn more about how films are made. I’m interested in special effects, and ‘The Matrix’ is my favourite film.” Jeanne Segonds-Pichon

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“This project gave a good insight into the history of

cinema. It was a great experience working on the project. I particularly enjoyed going to the Arts Picturehouse and learning how to use different types of projection. The work we’ve done on the website and the film

really shows how we can work together and with the community.” Sarah Baker

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“I really enjoyed making the animation about

the building of the cinema. We also used people’s

heads for one animation, which was fun. We used

iStopMotion, and it was the first time I’d used that. I interviewed some other students to find out what they liked about the project, and you can now see the film of this interview on our website.” Nick Drew

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Residents

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“I remember the cinema’s opening night. I was about

13 and I’d cased out the building with my friends. We

knew we couldn’t afford to get in. The entrance doors had two circular clear glass panels. We stood behind those doors and watched the opening film, which was called

‘Thark’. We were continually being chased away by the commissionaire but we managed to see most of it.” Douglas Page

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“My father was one of the first projectionists.

He worked with Bill Price when the cinema first opened in 1932. It was just two showings back then, Fridays and Saturdays – not Thursdays

because people didn’t get paid until Friday so they had no money for the cinema until Friday.” Janet Ingle

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“I was born in Sawston the same year as the cinema as

it happens. As I grew up I was interested in the cinema and all its mysteries. Eventually the manager gave me a job as a projectionist. When it was my turn to be on

the projector, all my mates would come in and look up at me from their seats. They would give me signals to push the volume up higher and higher. The more they egged

me on, the louder I turned it up. The sound of footsteps came rushing up the stairs and the manager stormed

in. ‘What are you doing?’ ‘You’ll break the speakers,’ he shouted. I soon learned not to do that again.” Bryan Howe

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“I remember when we had evacuees in the village. We had a wife and kids living with us, and the

husband was away at war. One evening, the newsreel came on at Spicer’s Cinema, and a friend of this

lady’s saw her husband on the screen fighting in the war at a time he was reported as missing. The wife went to see for herself the next night but it was a different newsreel. That was a great let down.” Claude Matthews

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“At sixteen I was allowed to become a cashier as well as an usherette. The Americans were stationed at

Sawston Hall and in Nissen huts outside the chapel.

There were also airmen at Duxford so a lot of military would go to the cinema at Sawston. Back then we

would use it for ‘socials’, which was a dance but with games as well. We would play musical chairs, which we thought was hilarious. In those days we used to

jive but I never got asked for some reason or another. I do remember one night when I did though. I thought, ‘This is good.’ But it wasn’t as good as I thought, and the American got a bit fresh so my knee came up, and that was the end of my US association.” Ruby Brown

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“During the war we didn’t get many things to see so

I was thrilled to see a big event on at Spicer’s Cinema. One of the acts was a conjurer, and his key act was to extract money from the air and put it into a hat. He stretched out his arm and dropped in the coin, and

you could hear the sound, ‘Chink.’ ‘Any volunteers?’

went the cry, so up I went like a juggernaut. He asked

me if I wanted to have a go, so I made out I had a halfcrown and I dropped it into the hat. ‘Chink,’ it went. Then, to my amazement, I realised hidden between the fingers of his hand holding the hat were five or

six half-crowns. This is how I learned how magic was performed. I’ve never trusted a magician since.” Keith Westley

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“My wife, Pearl, and I had our very first date at this cinema. I was living in Saffron Walden at the time

and I’d come over to Sawston for a dance at the Village

College. That night I met Pearl and I thought how much I’d like to take her out on a date. It wasn’t until a couple

of months later that I rang her up at Spicer’s Paper Mill. It was easy to contact her because she worked on the

switchboard there. She suggested we see a film here so I caught the big red 103 bus from Cambridge Drummer Street, which dropped me off at the corner. She met me and we walked up here to the cinema together.” Paul Mann

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“When I was about eleven I came to the Saturday matinee here and I brought my little brother, who was only

about eighteen months old at the time. When I came,

Mr Garrett, who was the first front-of-house manager, told me off because I’d only bought a ticket for myself.

I don’t know what it was we saw, but a pig came up on the screen and my little brother went, ‘Oink, oink.’ It made all the people around us burst into laughter.” Liz Dockerill

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“Mr Garrett had an idea that, to build up attendance, he would have a lottery-type game where you had to guess how many people had come into the cinema.

When you came through the door, you filled in a bit

of paper to state how many people you thought were there. Every week was the same, ‘Chelse has won,’ and then the next week, ‘Chelse has won.’ Chelse

might miss one week but, next time he came, he’d win again. He lived in one of the council houses opposite the cinema, sat in his bedroom window, counted all the people coming in, then came in last and filled in the paper. They rumbled him in the finish.” Frank Haylock

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“I’ve got so many happy memories of the cinema. It

was the only cinema around. If you didn’t come here,

you had to go into Cambridge, and we were young so

we weren’t allowed to go into Cambridge on our own. We were just happy to have the cinema here. My two

older sisters used to bring me on a Saturday. We would see Roy Rogers cowboy films – no bad language and

no nasties. They were all lovely films, either musicals or comedies. When the films broke down, everybody cheered. They would play the ‘Skaters’ Waltz’, and everybody would clap or boo. Great times.” Pearl Mann

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Acknowledgements In addition to the young people and community members who have worked hard to make this project a success, we would like to thank: • The Principal of Sawston Village College, Mrs June Cannie, and the governors and staff at the school, who have been very supportive of this project. • Lesley Morgan, Arts Development Manager for the Sawston and Linton Area, who managed the project. • Sharon Punchard and Steve Williams,Youth Workers in the Sawston and Linton Locality team, who, assisted by Area Youth Work Coordinator Julie Bristow, supported the sessions forming part of this project. • Peter Harmer, filmmaker with Stories – Projects in Film, who led the sessions in filmmaking and post production and brought about the successful completion of the film. • Bill Thompson, member of the Cambridge Film Trust, new media pioneer and Sawston Village College parent, who worked with young people to develop the project website. • Thom Martin, Jess Hymas and Sam Sherlock, who supported filmmaking, did hair, make-up and costumes and introduced sessions in animation. • Tom Curran, former Sawston Village College student and last year’s winner of the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition for his age group, who wrote the original music score for the film. • Julie Heathcote, oral history trainer, who conducted training sessions as part of this project. • Gary Jobson and Tom Catchesides, who did the graphic design and photography for this publication. • Members of Sawston Village History Society and, in particular, archivist, Bryan Howe, who gave of their time and expertise throughout this project. The Sawston Cinema Archive Project would not have been able to take place without the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Many organisations have contributed to the project to return cinema to Sawston. We are grateful to them for their support.


“I’ve got so many happy memories of the cinema. It

was the only cinema around. If you didn’t come here,

you had to go into Cambridge, and we were young so

we weren’t allowed to go into Cambridge on our own. We were just happy to have the cinema here. My two

older sisters used to bring me on a Saturday. We would see Roy Rogers cowboy films – no bad language and

no nasties. They were all lovely films, either musicals or comedies. When the films broke down, everybody cheered. They would play the ‘Skaters’ Waltz’, and everybody would clap or boo. Great times.” Pearl Mann

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Acknowledgements In addition to the young people and community members who have worked hard to make this project a success, we would like to thank: • The Principal of Sawston Village College, Mrs June Cannie, and the governors and staff at the school, who have been very supportive of this project. • Lesley Morgan, Arts Development Manager for the Sawston and Linton Area, who managed the project. • Sharon Punchard and Steve Williams,Youth Workers in the Sawston and Linton Locality team, who, assisted by Area Youth Work Coordinator Julie Bristow, supported the sessions forming part of this project. • Peter Harmer, filmmaker with Stories – Projects in Film, who led the sessions in filmmaking and post production and brought about the successful completion of the film. • Bill Thompson, member of the Cambridge Film Trust, new media pioneer and Sawston Village College parent, who worked with young people to develop the project website. • Thom Martin, Jess Hymas and Sam Sherlock, who supported filmmaking, did hair, make-up and costumes and introduced sessions in animation. • Tom Curran, former Sawston Village College student and last year’s winner of the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition for his age group, who wrote the original music score for the film. • Julie Heathcote, oral history trainer, who conducted training sessions as part of this project. • Gary Jobson and Tom Catchesides, who did the graphic design and photography for this publication. • Members of Sawston Village History Society and, in particular, archivist, Bryan Howe, who gave of their time and expertise throughout this project. The Sawston Cinema Archive Project would not have been able to take place without the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Many organisations have contributed to the project to return cinema to Sawston. We are grateful to them for their support.


Projecting the Past, The Portraits This publication of portrait photography and quotes is an accompaniment to the intergenerational documentary film ‘Projecting the Past’; a collaboration between Stories – Projects in Film and the Sawston Cinema Club, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Young people were asked to reflect on their involvement in the project and their hopes for the future of cinema in Sawston, and quotes from local residents collated throughout this project have been selected and edited for this collection. The range of personalities across these two generations has been captured in striking black and white by photographer Tom Catchesides.

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Projecting the Past  

Booklet accompany Projecting the Past project

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