Memories sought for Highlands film guild

A film operator, his equipment and the search for memories.

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Memories of a unique travelling cinema that toured the Highlands and Islands from the 1940s to the 1970s are being sought by a team of researchers based at the universities of Glasgow and Stirling.

This major research project is the first to explore people’s memories of the Highlands and Islands Film Guild, and the team of researchers – led by Dr Ian Goode at Glasgow University – want to hear from anyone who remembers the guild or was involved in its operation.

The Highlands and Islands Film Guild was an Inverness-based mobile cinema service set up after the Second World War. The guild was a precursor to the current service provided by the recently-refitted Screen Machine, and was established in 1946. The guild’s fleet of specially-equipped vans travelled the Highlands screening movies in village halls, schools and even people’s homes.

‘The Highlands and Islands Film Guild was a unique moment in Scottish cinema – and Highland and Island life,’ said Dr Goode. ‘We have already conducted a number of interviews with people who remember the guild, and it’s wonderful to hear people’s memories. It is clear that the guild is remembered very fondly, particularly by people who experienced the film shows as children.’

The team has committed to completing a series of ‘case studies’, corresponding to the areas that the guild covered throughout its 25-year lifespan. Ian and his colleagues have already conducted some research in the Inverness-shire area, and are embarking on trips to the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney before the end of the year.

‘We are still keen to speak with anybody who experienced the film guild. No matter how brief anyone’s experiences of the guild are, nor how long ago, we would love to hear from them.’

If you remember the Highlands and Islands Film Guild and the films that it showed, or were involved in any way in its operation, the team is keen to hear from you. You can get in touch with Dr Goode 0141 330 6500 or Ealasaid Munro 0141 330 6944

Further details about the project can be found at www.hifilmguild.gla.ac.uk.