Film Guild mem­o­ries

The Oban Times - - DISTRICTS -

YEARS ago, be­fore tele­vi­sion and elec­tric­ity came to the area, lit­tle dark blue vans with ‘High­lands and Is­lands Film Guild’ writ­ten across their sides, were a welcome sight in many far-flung com­mu­ni­ties.

Es­tab­lished in 1946, the guild showed pop­u­lar films, news­reels, car­toons and pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ti­tles and were of­ten the so­cial high­light of the month. The fleet of vans with their own self- con­tained petrol gen­er­a­tors, film-pro­jec­tors, speak­ers and screens would ar­rive out­side vil­lage halls around noon for the day’s show­ing. In the af­ter­noon chil­dren and teach­ers would at­tend ed­u­ca­tional films fol­lowed by the evening’s en­ter­tain­ment.

Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy and not been in­vented so ev­ery reel had to be spooled- on by hand, changed and re­wound at the end. Driv­ers dou­bled up as pro­jec­tion­ists and were of­ten great char­ac­ters.

The late Vic­tor Gall, who cov­ered Morvern, Su­nart and Ard­na­mur­chan, was a well-known and pop­u­lar fig­ure with ev­ery­one.

Once the main film was set in mo­tion, Vic, as he was af­fec­tion­ately called, would of­ten re­tire to the lo­cal hostelry but not be­fore a ‘run­ner’ was found in the au­di­ence and given half a crown to let him know if the gen­er­a­tor had run out of fuel or the film had jumped the gate and was un­wind­ing on the hall floor.

The Na­tional An­them was al­ways played at the end of each show which meant the au­di­ence re­mained seated un­til the ‘big’ film was re­wound. When it came on ev­ery­one stood to at­ten­tion and waited un­til it had fin­ished be­fore bolt­ing for the door. Peo­ple were much more pa­tri­otic in those days. On one oc­ca­sion, in the old Locha­line vil­lage hall, a short film of the Troop­ing of the Colour pro­vided the an­them. For what­ever rea­son it was spooled on back to front and the wrong way up so not only were the words and mu­sic play­ing in re­verse, the Queen and her horse were up­side down.

Re­searchers at the uni­ver­si­ties of Glas­gow and Stir­ling are look­ing for first-hand mem­o­ries of life in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties and the part the Film Guild played in pro­vid­ing pub­lic en­ter­tain­ment there.

Any­one with sto­ries or tales of the Film Guild are be­ing asked to con­tact Dr Ian Goode by call­ing 0141 330 6500, email: ian.goode@glas­gow.ac.uk, or Eala­said Mun­roby email­ing: eala­said.munro@glas­gow.ac.uk, or call 0141 330 6944. More de­tails about the project can be found at hi­filmguild@gla.ac.uk.

Pho­to­graph: Di­a­geo.

The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Ed­win Land­seer.

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