Kidderminster VideoMakers
Kidderminster VideoMakers

Kidderminster Film Society to Kidderminster VideoMakers

in 59 Short Years

Dorothy Every FACI, LRPS

Between them Dorothy and Bill Every have over 100 years of film making in Kidderminster

In 1952, a group of amateur film makers, Bob and Syd Exley, Charles Horrell, Oswald Roth, Reg Carter, Philip Welch, along with several others, formed a film society, with the object of bringing together fellow enthusuists. The original title was Kidderminster Film Society. They first met in the old black and white building in Church Street. There were at least two monochrome films made, including one called Murder in View, using standard 8 mm. The film at that time was purchased on 25 feet reels and was 16 mm film with double perforations. You exposed the film once, opened the camera, turned the film over, and exposed it again. During processing they slit the film down the middle and joined the two halves together. This made a total length of 50 feet , which at 16 ft per sec, meant the film ran for four minutes. There were at this time other film guages available for use by the amateur, mainly 9.5 mm and 16 mm, mostly monochrome. Some years were to elapse before colour was readily available to the amateur; among these were films made by Gaveart, Agfa, Kodak which were the main ones. We had one or two members who used 16 mm but this was extremely expensive.

The society moved to the Victoria Sports Club. It was at this time that I joined, and was immediately nominated as Secretary and Treasurer, knowing nothing about film making; two years later Bill joined. The Society continued to meet at the Sports Club for a further 18 months. As cine became more popular, the membership out grew the room, and so the society moved to Holy Innocents church hall that was cold and draughty in the winter. At about this time the Queen and Prince Philip visited Kidderminster, and to make a film of this important event, members managed to obtain permits for advantageous positions around the town. Unfortunately the film went missing, when one of the members went to live in Switzerland, and took it with him. With the redevelopment of the market, and in view of the fact that the Holy Innocents room was so cold, it was decided to move to a new building, called the Market tavern. The membership grew to over a hundred, no doubt helped by the bar being open during the tea break. At an AGM it was decided to change the name to Kidderminster and District Cine Society. There were four groups producing films, as well as making their own films. Competitions were keenly fought, and members films were entered in the now defunct West Midland Area Film Competition, organised by the Wulfrun Cine Society. Our entries often either won or were highly placed. This competition was usually judged by producers from the BBC or ITV. Individual members entered the International Amateur Cine World - Ten Best Competition, gaining gold stars. The winners of this competition were called the Ten Best, and for three or four consecutive years the Society hired the town hall to show the TEN BEST, with audiencies of up to five hundred.

We had some extremely good film makers during this time, Charles Horrell, who worked in 16 mm, and was a very keen sound enthusiast. Leslie Jones, who produced very creative fiction films and regularly got a Best Ten Gold Star. Margaret and Frank Jones made two 16 mm films of extemely high standard, A Country Town, a history of Ludlow, and a film telling the story of the English composer Elgar. They had also worked in 8 mm and super 8 gauges. George Kendrick came from Tenbury Wells, where he had a bakery and cafe, together with a small photographic business. He brought along a suitcase to meetings and sold films to members etc, at reduced prices. Bob Burki, our past Chairman and honourary member, made many films, the best being an outstanding film called One in a Million, the making of a pressure cooker release valve, from the drawing board to end product. During our time we had some outstanding Presidents who worked for the Society, of which two were Leslie Batt, a bank manager, and Arthur Maiden, a timber merchant. Arthur served the Society in this capacity, and also as Chairman, for a very long time. He was very well supported by his wife Vi, who worked just as hard for the Society. During Arthur's time as Chairman, one of our members David Samuels was elected Mayor, and gave a speech, in his formal capacity, at the annual dinner to 120 members and guests at the Lion Hotel. A few years later another one of our members, Joe Perrin, was elected Mayor of the Borough of Kidderminster before it became part of the Wyre Forest District.

After about four years there was a change of management at the Market tavern, and we were asked to leave. A new community hall was found on the Offmore Estate, where the Society once again had a change of name from Society to Club. The membership droped dramatically to about 35. No doubt the loss of the bar accounted for some of this, also the advent of television did not help. The remaning members still continued to make films of extremely high standard. Once again after a period of twlve years we were asked to leave as the hall was required by a youth club, who met for precisely two evenings and failed. However, the cost of £12 per night in the early seventies was becoming too expensive, with rent reviews by the Council every year adding to the costs. So the search was on again for another meeting room.

Bill and I searched everywhere. One evening we happened to be passing the Baptist Church, so we stopped, found the door open, entered and found somebody playing the organ. We enquired if they had a room to rent and were told to contact Mr Wilson, the Secretary of the Church. This we did and he readily agreed to us hiring a room at £5 per evening although this incresed over the years to £15. We are very indebted to the members of the Baptist Church who made us very welcome, as there were very few rooms available where you have a key, and are able to come and go to suit yourselves, along with a store room for equipment.

While at the Baptist Church we celerbrated our forty years as a Society and a Club in 1992. The large hall was used for a party and Gerald Me, the then President of the IAC, was guest of honour. Once again there was a change of title, this time to the Wyre Forest Cine , Video and AV Club. However, with the demise of cine photograpy, and more and more members turning to video, we finally became known as the Wyre Forest Camcorder Club. Though the Club dropped the reference to AV those that enjoy this form of viewing were not neglected in this area as Bill and I have started up a club dedicated to AV and the video Club also still holds AV evenings.

Over the years the Club has aquired a wide range of equipment inculding two data projectors, screens & sound equipment, etc. Most of our films are now produced for and played on DVD or from hard disk. 2002 saw the Club celebrate its 50 years and in 2012 it will reach its 60th anniversary. In 2011 the Club again decided to change its name to Kidderminster VideoMakers to better define where we meet. We also moved to a more comftable location at St Ambrose Church Hall.

Dorothy Every

In 2012 the club celebrated 60 years of film making at its annual dinner and prize giving. It started in 1952 as the Kidderminster Film Society and the event was marked with a decorated cake which was cut by our most long serving, but still very active members, Dorothy and Bill Every.

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© William McConville