Capturing 40 Years of Junction Arts in Film
Written by Christopher Bevan
Filmmaker and Creative Director of YSP Media
21 February 18

Creative Film making for heritage.
For this blog post, I wanted to write something that resonated with me as a filmmaker, but also seemed to be a common thread during conversations at the first Derbyshire Creative Heritage Conference last year; namely, preserving and sharing our collective heritage through the creative process of filmmaking. It’s a theme I’ve grown incredibly close to over the last few years; starting with a key project I had the pleasure of being commissioned for.

For eight months starting in the summer of 2016, I worked on a heritage focused documentary film for Junction Arts; a project developed as part of their 40th anniversary celebration ‘JA40’. The creation of the film itself involved research into the newly archived materials that had been delivered to the Derbyshire Record Office, Matlock. Working through these materials was a beneficial process to help build a picture of the creative legacy of a four-decade period. The final result was a 20-minute film piece that hopes to shine a light on the enduring impact and spirit of Junction Arts.

It was clear to me from the start of the process that the film could only represent one small part of the story. It would be impossible to cover the many lives that have been touched and projects that have been delivered over the years. So, it became a case of joining the dots, connecting with individuals and speaking to those who had shaped or been impacted by Junction Arts. Then in broad strokes, whilst focusing on a few projects that jumped out to me, I started to bring a narrative together that thematically and emotionally would take the audience on a journey.

Using the Junction Arts Archive, at Derbyshire Record Office

Creating Narrative
A tiny fraction of the archived materials made their way into the final edit; posters, photos, script extracts, books, theatre programmes and even old logos going back as far as 1976. In many ways these were easier to preserve, stored away in boxes waiting to be rediscovered in the years to come. These could have been just as easily thrown away however, it was fate I’m sure, that met these materials associated with some of the amazing projects. For projects I could find no record of in the archives, I collected incredible memories and spoken tales from some of the people that I interviewed.

Bolsover lantern Parade still, from JA40 Film By Chris Beven.

Preserving Heritage Creatively

We now live in an age where we are fortunate to be able to record and film anything at a moments notice, something I feel we sometimes take for granted. It is incredible how easily and often events, on a large and small scale, can now be recorded and preserved. The way that film captures a moving moment in time is unlike any other art form, so turning this into a practice that ensures these moments do not get lost is something that I had thought a lot about when making JA40.

Film has a hugely important role to play within our circles; as a way of capturing what happened but also the thoughts and feelings of those who were there. It tells a story that once archived, can be unearthed in years to come. Whilst making JA40 I was conscious that I was ultimately making something that would join the vast collections in the archives and maybe one day would be rediscovered by someone looking to find out more, perhaps another 40 years from now. Preserving film on a local level, using archive material in modern creative processes to help retell stories and document what we do now, are just some of the many ways film can help us hold on to the past and demonstrate the continued importance of the arts in our heritage going forward.

Archive project still from JA40 Film

Award Nominated

JA40: The Junction Arts Story, is a short documentary commissioned to celebrate the 40th anniversary and legacy of Junction Arts. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by Arts Council England. Nominated for Factual Programme of the Year at the RTS Awards 2017.

watch the film here. 

Christopher Beven, Junction Arts

Christopher Bevan is an award winning and Royal Television Society nominated filmmaker based in Derby who has worked on a wide range of films including features, shorts, commercials and documentaries.