Memories are made of NOW

Faversham-based theatre professional Caroline Lamoon and Sittingbourne media specialist Gordon Lamont were supported by Ideas Test to work with Age UK Faversham on a short film project Memories through Creativity. Here, Gordon reflects on the experience on working with an amazing group of people with rich life experiences…

I was walking through this cabbage patch when out of the sun came ten Messerschmitts’

Budapest in 1944 was a hell of a fearful place – the Nazis were there’

Music was my bag, I love it all’

Q: ‘Did you have a Mickey Mouse gas mask?’

A: ‘Oh no dear, I can’t stand anything rubber – that’s why I’ve got three children!’

A few quotes from clients at Age UK involved in our short film project Memories through Creativity. ‘Involved’ is the key word here because these people weren’t the ‘subjects’ of a documentary, they were intimately engaged in making it: learning to use the kit, setting up shots and making decisions about the content. They saw it as our film – all of us working together.

I’ve been in involved in media production of one sort and another, from radio to TV; short film to online for 25 years and never has a project gripped me and enveloped me so strongly. Strange, because in documentary terms this project was mostly talking heads and a bit of rostrum cam, but those people…those stories!

Clara tells of her father forging birth certificates for Jews in Budapest and of how she and her family would smuggle these into the ghetto. ‘It helped that we had blonde hair,’ she says and her smile when she talks of her hero, Raoul Wallenberg, paints the screen with light.

Mr. George talks of covering himself with cabbage leaves to escape those German planes and how ‘I cried me heart out’ when it was all over; and, incidentally he mentions meeting Marlene Dietrich who told him ‘You English boys are so nice’!

Jean ran for home and locked herself in the outside toilet as the bullets rained from the sky, ‘I was the only living thing on that street’.

I could go on with quote after amazing quote but so much better to let our collaborators speak for themselves – watch the film here!

I must stress though that this is not a film made by old people living in the past. You’ll see the story of Mary Shepherd who taught music in Tottenham to ‘a boy called David Lammy’ and her reunion with the MP she last saw as a child, definitely not to be missed and very much in the now.

My fellow producer Caroline Lamoon and I have come away from the project with a very clear message: the story continues; it is not about dwelling in the past. The creative learning focus of making a film together is part of the participants’ continuing story. It too will become a valued memory – different for each person at Age UK Faversham because they are not a homogeneous group of ‘old people’, just people with some powerful stories to tell.

The final section of the film focuses on the arts and again there is a strong message from those involved – we want more opportunities to get involved in arts and creativity and we need it to come to us! For a variety of reasons our fellow film makers are less mobile than they were and need more creative and artistic opportunities where they are. Ideas Test is to be thanked for having the foresight to commission a whole round with a focus on the Third Age. More please!