Last week I had the opportunity to be part of a filmed advertisement for Ditto, the fun and friendly marketing company in Sevenoaks who created the gorgeous History Magpie design sitting at the top of this page. It was an occasion that took me far from my comfort zone but, despite my nerves, it was a wonderful experience and on my way home I started to think about the connection between today’s ‘up to the minute’ filming and the nostalgic black and white newsreels that now give us a glimpse into the past.
Companies such as Timereel Studios have collated old news footage into narrated films.
Their film, Kent Past, shows the launching of a submarine at Chatham Dockyard and Winston Churchill visiting Dover, both of which were recognised as important events at the time. Now they are deemed, quite rightly, as ‘historic’ but other clips showing cockney hop pickers, the crew on-board the NORE lightship receiving their Christmas boxes and a bathing dress parade at Folkestone were, at the time of filming, everyday events.
So when does something really become historic? The Oxford Dictionary states that to be historic something has to be ‘famous or important with regards to history’ which to my mind means that unless it has an obvious historical significance at the time, such as a royal occasion or an outbreak of war, many things only become historic with hindsight, when the activity or object depicted is obsolete.
And with technology advancing at such a rate I wonder how last week’s advert will fare in the long term. Will it eventually just become dated due to our clothes and the methods used or will it, with the test of time, become a historical example of the way advertising was created in the early 21st century?
*Disclaimer – Timereel Studio kindly sent me a promo copy of Kent Past and Kent at War a few years ago.