In 2015, as part of a grant provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund to move our local war memorial to a new site, I was asked to document the relocation using both stills and moving image. After several meetings it was decided that in addition to the mechanics of removing and then rebuilding the structure, the film should also be about people, not just those from the past, but also those from the present, and importantly – future generations.
I had already been working on various local war-related commemorative projects with the village school, and so I felt very strongly that in addition to the story of the memorial, the local children should be involved in the production as much as possible. In the film they can be seen reciting letters to and from locals and their families who fell in the Great War. They were fantastic and really understood what they’d been asked to do, and the poignancy of it. By giving a voice to the soldiers who, in many cases were not much older than themselves, the children have in essence bridged the gap between the two distant generations in quite an emotive way.
I also felt that the film needed to convey a strong sense of place, and spent months filming around the parish at all hours of the day, quite often at dawn or early evening when the light was best. At first, passers-by were rather puzzled as to what I was doing, however as the weeks passed locals became used to my presence and would stop and enquire as to how it was all going.
One of the greatest privileges during the project was the opportunity to conduct interviews with members of the community who had lived in the area during the last war or whose families were from the area and saw military service during WW1. Their fascinating stories, some of which could be standalone documentaries themselves, were indispensable in creating a continuity between the past and the present.