Making History: making movies – Collecting our region’s memories 

In 2020 we launched our Making History: making movies project to collect the region’s memories on film. The original premise was to encourage individuals and communities to reflect on the time pressures faced by early amateur filmmakers – carefully selecting what to film with their precious film stock. As 2020 opened and we were faced with the threat of COVID-19, our project took a different turn – our everyday experiences now unavoidably tangled with our lives during a pandemic. 

Many people responded to our call for film and document accessions, including Molly who has shared her experiences with us for this blog post. 

Dear Wessex Film & Sound Archive… 

When I first started daily vlogging the events of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had no intention of editing them together for the public to see.  

When the pandemic became serious and schools closed, I realised how unprecedented the times we were living through really were, and (like everyone else) understood that I was living through history being made. That was when I made my first vlog.  

Lasting over 1 hour, recounting how the pandemic had started and what had happened up until the moment I’d picked up my phone and pressed record.

From then on, I filmed everything that happened, every day for

525 days.

This included the empty shelves in the supermarket, the huge queues, social distancing banners and stickers, wearing masks for the first time all the way through to going on our daily dog walk and spending time with my family as well as navigating getting my GCSEs and the move from secondary school to college all through a worldwide lockdown. 

 
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  It provided therapy for me. During a period when the only people we could talk face to face with were those in our bubble, I was able to ramble on about goodness knows what to my phone, day in and day out and that truly helped me get through some of the tougher days. I knew that these videos would be helpful to provide an unbiased account of the pandemic, just a kid navigating the world during these extraordinary times, so I’d often put messages to my future family as one day when they learn about the pandemic in history class, they will have footage of their future mum living through it. Knowing that fact helped me to be incredibly open on camera, there was no thought of the world seeing it so I filmed panic attacks and depressive episodes and talked openly about how I felt.

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Almost 2 years on from the start of COVID, I looked back at the wealth of videos I’d taken and realised the world was still very much in the midst of the pandemic. I recognised that editing together a snapshot of what I experienced could help evoke memories in others and help them appreciate how far we’ve come as a nation and being open about my mental health could help others who did or still do feel the same. I had hundreds of hours of footage that I eventually edited down into just 9 minutes of the highs and lows and everything in between.  

In January 2022, Dear 2020… was released to the world and while I was so happy to share it with the current world’s population, I discovered I wanted to share it with those beyond today. And that’s when I got in touch with Zoë at Wessex Film & Sound Archive, after hearing about the Making History: making movies project at an IntoFilm/WFSA workshop. 

   
We as a world lived through history that generations to come are bound to be learning about. I wanted to provide our future generations with a completely unbiased snapshot of what everyday life for an average teenager was like during the pandemic, with all the anxieties and some of the hidden joys, like spending quality time with family. The archives allow for Dear 2020… to act as a time capsule for future generations to discover which is what I’d hoped it would eventually become. But until then, I’d love for you to take a look at what the pandemic was like for me and see if it evokes any memories or emotions for you. 

Molly McGuinness, Filmmaker 

Molly’s film ‘Dear 2020…’ has now been added to the WFSA collection and is viewable online Dear 2020… | Molly McGuinness. Making History: making movies is now in its third year – and we are still looking for new accessions; could your film contribute to the archive of the future? 

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