Following the Connected Communities festival Fiona and I headed over to Madlab to join Bokeh Yeah for their monthly meetup. This session was to be dedicated to hearing pitches for the group’s documentary challenge for Pararchive, then allowing the group to select four ideas that will go on to be produced. The competing ideas included…

This Is Just The Beginning – Thomas Barlow
Thomas’ work plans to document the past twenty-five years of activism and direct action in the UK by interviewing fourteen notable activists in the environmental, animal rights, anti-globalism and anti-military movements. Thomas intends to structure the interviews around several eras spanning the Poll Tax, Stop The War, Financial Crash and Coalition government, looking at five different movements in each era with good quality archival footage to illustrate the protests, for example, the Claremont Road protest of the 1990s.

Oh Golly! – Elspeth Moore
Elspeth Moore is looking to explore the notion whether the Gollywog is an innocent children’s character or perhaps something more sinister. Little is known of the character’s history, other than its evolution from a childhood figure to a controversial statement on race. The intention isn’t to produce an anti-racism piece, but portray a true history of the character’s origins. Poet Kermit Leveridge has been approached to narrate the work as well as the great grandson of the Robertson’s jam company. Oh Golly! will largely be based on interviews, but will draw on archival footage to illustrate the narrative.

4×100 – Suhail Khan
Suhail’s 4×100 celebrates four key artists, all whom have their 100 year anniversaries in 2014. Each artist was born in the early months of 1914, shortlye before the onset of the First World War, Each artist’s works conveyed new forms of creativity and continues to resonate to this day…

  • Sun Ra, jazz musician and poet.
  • William Burroughs, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer.
  • Norman Mclaren, Canadian animator inspired by jazz and folk music, known for his UNESCO education animation projects.
  • Noor Inayat Khan, remarkable for her life as a children’s author and subsequently a British Spy.

Fiona and I thought that 4×100 could help populate artefacts into Pararchive for others to use as storytelling materials, as well as the creators using Pararchive to explore archival material from elsewhere.

Tim Gillibrand
Tim’s planning to record a series of vox pops, posing the question to interviewees: “What’s been your best night in Manchester?“. From these Tim intends to identify several music venues and explore this histories of each, using archives as stimulus and perhaps capturing the reactions of interviewees and others to footage of those venues. Underlying the work are themes of memory and distance. Manchester’s venues have shrunk from three hundred to just four in the 1950s, as authorities seemed particularly perturbed by live venues. Tim is also considering content from the Manchester Music Archive, as well as mobile apps for situated content and artefacts from the Science Museum and MOSI to illustrate changing technologies in the period.

Amy Thomas & Kristen Marshall
Amy and Kristen are considering the moment of escapism that occurs when you visit archives such as MOSI, or the National Media Museum. Such a moment provokes questions on visibility and invisibility, life and death, private and public, as well as acknowledging the people that activate the space.

Wodechester – Adele Myers
Adele provoked the group with a question on what they thought of when they considered Manchester; our answers ranged from sport and music, but specifically Adele dew our attention to the Madchester music scene of the late 80s and early 90s, notably the absence of women in historical perspectives on the era, particularly the central role of many women in the promotion and development of that culture. Adele’s Wodechester aims to recapture the contribution of women to the Madchester scene, noting figures such as Lindsey Mean, Carol Morley and Gillian Gilbert. Adele intends to pull as much archival material from the era – from major clubs and other cultural material – as a starting point for research.

Adele suggested the group together to consider each pitch on Originality, Creativity, Integrity, Saleability, Feasibility, ranking each area to enable us to consider which concepts to support. In the end, Fiona and I thought that we could likely accommodate all five pitches, it’s only a bit more wok for us!

Though I hadn’t discussed this with the group, I did begin to wonder if each final documentary and its component pieces could be available as a series of storyblocks in the Pararchive universe, for others to remix and examine. This would mean that the outcome of the documentary challenge would not only reveal the challenges of exploring archives, but allow our filmmakers to share their productions in novel and innovative ways.