Film Guild memories
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ealasaid Munroby emailing: email@example.com, or call 0141 330 6944. More details about the project can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer.