Amateur film

Meaning and practice c. 1927–77

By Heather Nicholson

Amateur film

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7773-9
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: October 2012
  • BIC Category: Film and Media, Social & cultural history, Film history, theory & criticism, HISTORY / Social History, PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism, The arts / Films, cinema, Humanities / Social & cultural history
  • Series: Studies in Popular Culture


Amateur film: Meaning and practice 1927-77 plunges readers into the world of home movies making and reveals that behind popular perceptions of clichéd family scenes shakily shot at home or by the sea, there is much more to discover. Exploring who, how, where, when and why amateur enthusiasts made and shared their films provides fascinating insights into an often misunderstood aspect of national visual history. This study of how non-professional filmmakers responded to the new possibilities of moving image places decades of cine use into a history of changing visual technologies that span from Edwardian visual toys to mobile phones. Using northern cine club records, interviews and amateur films, the author reveals how film-making practices ranged from family footage to highly crafted edited productions about local life and distant places made by enthusiasts who sought to 'educate, inspire and entertain' armchair audiences during the early decades of British television.


Nicholson's work over the last two decades as a social and cultural historian has been at the forefront of this reexamination of amateur cinema culture. This monograph represents a significant step towards understanding the specific historical nuances of amateur film practice and culture in the UK.
The monograph is based on a multitude of sources, which are expertly synthesized. Bringing together regional film archive collections, interview material and specialist hobby literature, Nicholson succeeds in reclaiming the amateur movement's place within cultural memory and history.

"The number of sources consulted is impressive and potentially opens up various avenues of research as the films cited gradually become publicly accessible via archive websites. Overall, Heather Norris Nicholson's Amateur Film presents an impressively wide ranging history of reginal filmmaking, highlighting the range of interests and concerns that found expression within the amateur cine sector over a number of decades."
(Ryan Shand, The Moving Image, 2014)

.until now there has been no systematic critical study of the emergence and development of amateur film practice in Britain. This book represents a valuable contribution to redressing this situation.


Preface and acknowledgements
1. Making space for a neglected visual history
2.The amateur club scene
3.The rise of a hobby press
4. Family life as fact and fiction
5. Local lives and communities
6. Gazing at other people working.
7. An indispensable travel accessory
8. Socially engaged filmmaking
9. Moving pictures, moving on


Heather Norris Nicholson is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Visual and Oral History Research at the University of Huddersfield

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