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Small-Gauge StorytellingDiscovering the Amateur Fiction Film$
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Ryan Shand and Ian Craven

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748656349

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748656349.001.0001

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. Crafting Life into Film: Analysing Family Fiction Films From the 1930s

. Crafting Life into Film: Analysing Family Fiction Films From the 1930s

(p.83) 3. Crafting Life into Film: Analysing Family Fiction Films From the 1930s
Small-Gauge Storytelling

Martina Roepke

Edinburgh University Press

Academic scholarship has usually explored family films in terms of authenticity and memory, framing them as spontaneous documents of everyday life, and valued as catalysts for acts of reminiscence or confirmations of kinship. Any status they might have as crafted stories has, for the most part, been ignored. The fictional character of family films has been largely confined to a sense that they present us with ‘idealised’ moments of life, rather than any more verifiable ‘truth’. This chapter approaches family filmmaking in relation to fiction, in a rather different way, in what could probably best be described as a quest for the ‘historical poetics’ of a lost sub-genre. Unlike family footage in general, ‘family fiction’ explicitly employs strategies of staging, acting and directing, and is frequently based on a prepared script. When and under what circumstances (technological, cultural, social) family fiction was regarded as an appropriate genre for hobby filmmakers, forms a core concern throughout this chapter. The chapter argues that such works should be of interest to any amateur film collection, not due to some supposed ‘authenticity’ or ‘uniqueness’, but as evidences of the way in which cinematic techniques and styles were appropriated by amateurs, and thus extended the cinematographic experience from movie theatres into the daily life of moviegoers.

Keywords:   Family films, Crafting, Historical poetics

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