Forever Young, a Manchester youth documentary
Forever Young was a labour of love for us, a big beautiful project (manchester youth documentary) that took us on a journey through eight lives and personal histories which in their turn revealed a little of our collective history. The brief was to produce a documentary about the changing experiences of young people through the decades. We interviewed eight local people who were teenagers in eight different decades: the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70, 80s, 90s, 00s and teens.
We talked to them about common themes: war, education, work, sex and relationships, music, politics and fashion. We wanted to find out what it had meant to them to be a young person of their era. To bring their experiences to life, we had access to their personal photographs, and for more recent decades, video footage. We visited places that had been important to them in their youth and we were lucky to be able to access the Northwest Film Archive, with a wealth of relevant footage spanning the different historical periods of the project.
The project was commissioned the Humanities Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University. We worked alongside student journalist, Neil Harrison to interview the participants, from Joan who was a munitions worker and keen dancer in 1940s Radcliffe to Mog who went from hippy to punk in 1970s Manchester and beyond to the cosmopolitan Naomi, a teen in the teens who had lived in more than five different countries!
Scheduling shoots in a variety of locations with eight different protagonists over just a couple of months was a real challenge, but we really believed in this project and we were determined to find creative ways to make it work.
By the time we finished the final interview we had many hours of footage and condensing it down to a 40 minute documentary was a real test of Guille’s editing skills. In the end he focused on the initial themes we had set out to tackle and looked at how the participants’ experiences of war, politics, education etc had changed over the decades. He worked evenings and weekends to deliver the project in time for the film’s premier at Manchester Central Library on 19th November 2014.
The premier was a huge success and since then the film has been toured across the North West and as far afield as Canada, with a screening at the University of British Columbia. We just loved getting our teeth into this creative project and having access to the incredible treasure trove of local history that is the North West Film Archive. Bring on the sequel!