Heather Norris Nicholson
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Gazing at other people working
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Chapter 6 considers how different work places and labour practices are captured in amateur footage. Recreational filming of other people at work highlights the elite nature of early cine usage and provides visual records of specific working conditions in rural and urban areas. Footage evidences gender roles, the use or absence of specialised working clothes and aspects of local and regional employment that may have been transformed or no longer exist. Mills, mines, factories, farming, foundries and fishing feature as do traditional crafts and rural-based industries. Some films resemble promotional and industrial films and reflect the cine interests of employers or their friends. Later films attest to widening cine usage and record varied forms of employment including school canteens and public transport. Motives varied for making and showing people at work as did different filmmakers’ aesthetic interests and their use of light, shadow, tone and composition. Factory-gate shots, topicals, documentaries and regional television news reporting influence changing amateur practice and filmmakers’ interests. Clues to strikes, unemployment, closures and automation link to wider social, economic and cultural change and footage of workers’ outings, social clubs, nurseries and overseas trading partners point to past patterns of patronage, privilege and local/global connections.

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Amateur film

Meaning and practice, 1927–77


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