latest news

Return to latest news
Tuesday 22nd December 2015

SWFTA Team End of Year Review - 2015

Photograph: SWFTA Christmas Party, 2015 @ the Berkeley Bar and Grill, Plymouth

As thoughts turn to the new year, we’ve taken some time to look back over another eventful year for SWFTA. 2015 was marked by some fantastic ‘projects’ and strengthening ‘partnerships’, as well as some happy ‘hello’s’ and a sad ‘goodbye’.

Projects and Partnerships

In January, we saw the launch of the BFI’s groundbreaking Unlocking Film Heritage Digitisation Project (UFH) as a follow on from last years’ successful Discovery Fund Project. Led by our remarkable UFH project team, SWFTA attended the national launch for ‘Britain on Film’ in London in June and hosted a mini launch at the Treasury in Plymouth. In August, SWFTA submitted an application to the BFI to continue with UFH for a third year and in December, that application was approved. SWFTA will continue to work on the project during 2016 to continue revealing hidden gems within the SWFTA collections in collaboration with the wider film archive network (FAUK) and the BFI until the end of the project in January 2017. The body of work SWFTA is creating through UFH will be of utmost value within the Plymouth History Centre (PHC), with the new institution serving as a sustainable legacy for it.

Our partnership with Plymouth University has gone from strength to strength this year, reflected through a new SWFTA/Plymouth University Creative Partnership Agreement which saw SWFTA working with Media Arts students and CIC FOTONOW on their Foto Then and Now Project which launched on the Big Screen in March. In collaboration with SWFTA, Pen Arts launched their exciting pilot film commission in November. It is hoped this will become part of a regular annual programme enriching the University’s existing dynamic public arts offer. Our Archive Director will oversee the development and implementation of some further exciting projects between SWFTA and the University during 2016, thereby strengthening the partnership between the two institutions as we continue to journey together towards the PHC.

In July, SWFTA became a fully fledged member of the Film Archive UK Network (FAUK). 

In addition to working with the BFI and the wider FAUK network on the UFH Project, the Plymouth History Centre Project has been at the forefront of SWFTA’s work this year. SWFTA has been fully engaged with the project again this year, with staff, volunteers and the board of trustees working alongside the partners from PCC, SWiB and Plymouth University throughout 2015 to develop the second round application for the HLF (for submission in April 2016). SWFTA has continued to support the city's heritage teams in delivering multiple outreach initiatives including the annual Plymouth History Festival in May, the Plymouth After Dark Project as well the fantastic Memory Boxes initiative. In August, as part of content development for PHC, our Archive Director was invited to lead on concept design of one of the galleries for the new institution, working alongside other gallery leads and learning teams, and Europe’s leading exhibition design consultants ‘Event Communications’ to lay the foundations for a wider content and programming offer. SWFTA has supported all of the promotional activities and events which have been developed to raise the public profile of the project this year including contributing to various social media campaigns #LoveOurPast and #LoveOurGus and supporting the recent Pop Up consultation event at Taylor Maxwell House.

In terms of regional positioning and to engage new and existing audiences, SWFTA has continued to support the BFI’s Film Audience Network (FAN) scheme throughout 2015. As a partner in the SWWM Hub, SWFTA has worked alongside various programmers and venues working in the Region, supporting projects such as Pedal Power Cinema in September and Suffragette. As a result of this work, SWFTA is delighted to have formed stronger relationships with numerous organisations such as Plymouth Arts Centre, Carn2Cove, CFylm, ArtsAlive, Awen, Somerset Film and St Ives Archives to name a few. SWFTA is also embracing partnerships with creative practitioners, visual artists and filmmakers working in the Region including Margaret Salmon, John Kippin and Katy Richardson.

To facilitate better access to the collections and in fulfilment of the overarching vision of the PHC, SWFTA has continued to work with the Media Archive for Central England (MACE) on the development of a new database throughout 2015 as part of the BFI funded Strength in Numbers Project (SiN). The new database will provide meaningful access to our rich moving image collections. The hope is that the new database will be launched in the Spring of 2016.

The Core Team 

We said ‘hello’ again to our Archive Director Stacey Anderson who returned from Maternity Leave in February. Stacey has been busy leading on strategic development of the collections, projects and partnerships throughout the year working to the priorities of the BFI's Film Forever Agenda and the vision driving the Plymouth History Centre Project. February also saw the appointment of project staff to lead on important BFI-UFH delivery - Jilly Payne, Natalie Banbury and Graham Russell.

Throughout the year we have welcomed on board new members of the core team; our Business Manager Suzanne Draffan who is helping to develop commercial opportunities for SWFTA and our Technician James Gibbs who is helping to develop SWFTA's digital and technical infrastructures as well as providing support for our Senior Technician Mike Brewis in undertaking core activity. In November, Natalie (already working to support the UFH Project) was taken on as our part time Archive Assistant. Nat has been working with SWFTA for many years on various different projects and we are delighted to have her on board as a member of the core team. Wearing her AA hat, Nat is overseeing volunteer activity within SWFTA and is supporting our Archive Director in essential collection work.  

2015 was however met with considerable sadness as we bid farewell to a much loved and respected member of the team - our Administrator Jennie Constable - who passed away in August after a brave battle with Cancer. Jennie was the heart of the organisation and saw the archive through some testing times. She will always be integral to the team. 


Talking of 'the team', volunteers have been at the centre of everything the archive has been doing this year. Under the direction of our wonderful Archive Assistant, our merry team of volunteers have supported ongoing digitisation and cataloguing of the collections as well as supporting the many projects outlined above. SWFTA has welcome over 20 volunteers this year from all walks of life including several work placement students. The volunteers have contributed an impressive 10,800 hours to the archive this year! 

Enquiries and Research

During the year, despite a changeover of core staff and delivery of some major projects, we have (to date) processed over 400 research requests from professional broadcasters, independent production companies and from members of the public and the academic community, bringing in an impressive commercial income to support vital core running costs.

Screenings and on TV

Throughout 2015 we have continued to provide footage for a wide range of screenings and for broadcast.

Exhibition highlights include: supply of original archive footage of the opening of Lido for the Tinside Anniversary event; footage for Carn2Cove's Pedal Power Cinema; footage for MTV Crashes; footage for the Foto Then and Now screening; for Exeter Museum; Tavistock Museum;Tate Britain; the Lenkiewicz Foundation; and a hugely popular community screening of SWFTA films in Fowey, Cornwall.

Broadcast highlights include: BBC's 'Flog It', 'Timeshift', 'Inside Out' and 'Antiques Road Show'; ITV Westcountry and BBC News; footage for C4's 'It was Alright in the 80's' and 'Disappearing Britain' and footage for the forthcoming (yet to be named) theatrical release about Donald Crowhurst. 


We have acquired numerous additional collections from local people and organisations including the Clarks Collection of films from the Alfred Gillett Trust and a digital collection of material produced through the Somerset Heritage HLF funded War Stories Project.

Once again, none of this would have been possible without the amazing support and generosity of our volunteers, the dedication and commitment of our staff, partners and external support personnel, ongoing support from our funders and stakeholders and the support and guidance of our board of Trustees.

It is this spirit of teamwork which will continue to drive SWFTA forward in the New Year, and we have much to look forward to...

In addition to our ongoing important core activity, SWFTA will be working hard to develop new and existing partnerships and projects throughout 2016 through FAN, UFH, SiN and FAUK. Working with the BFI and the wider film archive network to develop joined up approaches to preserving our film heritage and working to develop our growing partnership with PCC, SWiB and the University as plans for the Plymouth History Centre takes shape.

Christmas Closing

SWFTA will close for Christmas on Friday 25th December and will re-open on Monday 4th January 2016. Only urgent Broadcast enquiries will be considered during this time. 

Keep a look out on Facebook - we've prepared a festive treat which will 'start' on Christmas Day!

We’d like to thank you for your continued support and wish you a happy holiday season.


From your SWFTA Team

Stacey Anderson, Mike Brewis, Suzanne Draffan, James Gibbs, Natalie Banbury

Jilly Payne and Graham Russell.