Fraserburgh Andrew DavidsonFraserburgh on Film is an archive of moving image, shot by residents of the North East of Scotland throughout the 20th century. The project was produced by Robert Gordon University Student, Andrew Davidson as part of an MSc in Information and Library Studies. Through the collation of both film and other digital artefacts, the online platform tells the story of the area through the words spoken and images created by the people who lived and worked there over the years.

The site provides a platform on which the collation and presentation of moving images and interviews from Fraserburgh, a town in the North-East of Scotland, and its surrounding villages is made easily accessible to the online community. Materials were drawn from a variety of different collections including digitised material held by the Fraserburgh Heritage Centre; however, a significant number of the films were from the vast archive of moving images and interviews created by local historian James Taylor, as well as clips digitised from 8mm film reels donated by local residents. It was then edited and repurposed for use within the research project and indexed on a purpose built platform via the use of metadata tags.

In doing so, the value of these films is celebrated and their content preserved and made available via a platform created whereby interaction is encouraged, taking inspiration from theories of participatory heritage where a shift in the role of the user is seen from consuming and observing passively to actively participating through contribution and the production of content. In linking the site with social media, the project has facilitated a space for community discussion, contribution and reflection and fostered a renewed interest in heritage film from the area.

Fraserburgh on FilmFramed within the context of creating a vehicle for the digital preservation of film transferred from analogue formats, the aim of the research was to create a site which could host moving image but also use other digital artefacts to support and enhance the narratives contained within the presented films. Elements of digital storytelling were utilised and a purposely designed section, ‘behind the film’, was included within the site which saw stories presented and supported with the use of archive newspaper clippings, photography and a series of reflective audio clips recorded for the research.

Since the site went public a number of film clips have been donated and made publicly available for the first time. These include a series of family films shot in the late 1930s donated by the grandson of Alexander Benzie, a once prominent business owner in Fraserburgh. In helping to unlock this private collection of films, these important artefacts of social history which document events such as the opening of Fraserburgh Golf Club and a bicycle parade held in celebration of the 1937 Coronation have been brought to light.

Fraserburgh on Film 2

The archive was launched on 2 December 2019 and has received wide acclaim, being acknowledged in a parliamentary motion put forward by Steward Stevenson MSP and in a letter of recognition from the Duke of Kent. It rapidly fulfilled the desired outcome and aims of the research, engaging users with the social and cultural history of Fraserburgh and its surrounding areas through the presentation films and digital materials. As of July 2020, just over six months since launch, the online archive has had over 53,000 page views with collective viewing numbers of film clips reaching over 85,000. The project was also featured on a Scottish Television news report (2 Feb 2020), the film of which itself was viewed over 17,000 times within the first month of launch.

Going forward, the aim of the project is to continue the expansion of the collection and to encourage the use of the site as a platform for education and community engagement with heritage. A public exhibition of film within Fraserburgh, supported by the Doric Board, was due to take place Summer 2020 but has been rescheduled for the moment and will happen when current social distancing restrictions permit.

In bringing these films back in to the community, both online and eventually in a physical exhibition, their worth as valuable artefacts of social history has been demonstrated as have methods of the practical applications of digital preservation. In the process of preserving these heritage materials and framing them in a visually creative and accessible way so as to engage with individuals and communities, their importance and worth is celebrated.

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