Short films showcasing the work of museums in Cornwall have had a real impact on the local community and attracted the attention of key influencers and decision-makers. Chloe Hughes explains.
James Stuart, Lightbox Inc
In a remote rural region such as Cornwall access to culture is a challenge for many, and one of the roles of Cornwall Museums Partnership is to promote collaborative working that will help more people enjoy and explore the county’s rich heritage.
The process of creating the films has helped both the team, museums and wider stakeholders realise the great projects we are helping to support
In 2015 the team created a short film entitled Why Museums Matter to Cornwall to highlight the role museums play in our society despite tough economic times. The film communicated the facts behind our local museums and opened eyes to the impact they have within Cornwall, attracting positive attention from a range of influencers and decision-makers.
The next natural progression was to capture the people behind these statistics who make the museums the places they are. Our next film was intended to celebrate and showcase the engagement activities taking place, to help people understand that museums really are at the heart of local communities. Working with our partners, we identified a series of projects, activities and events happening over two to three months that show how museums are engaging with people from all walks of life.
Working closely with a local film-maker, who took the time to really understand what we wanted to achieve, we were able to storyboard how our video would look. Our biggest challenge was identifying which of the many activities would best reflect the message we wanted to portray.
Then with all the footage from the activities we captured we decided to create a series of short films to showcase each project. Our Community Matters film and the ten individual shorts act as a showcase for the benefits of supporting local heritage.
The benefits of making the films were immediately obvious. Capturing this work on film offers an unparalleled immediacy to our audience who can understand the value for the participant, supporters, staff and museum. Our supporters then helped us to spread the word easily by sharing content across digital mediums.
The films provide a platform for local communities to share why the museum is important to them and is a fantastic way to keep a record and evidence of the value this work has on people’s lives. They have proved invaluable to our stakeholders, participants and the museums, allowing us to champion the important role museums play in engaging with their communities, which can slip under the radar. It has also given us the ability to show funders how their support has made a tangible difference to people’s lives.
A natural story
Creating the film was not without its challenges. Finding a way to weave the stories together was challenging and many of the initial concepts were later scrapped. The more we filmed, the more we felt a natural story was coming together and so we had to remain open to what the final film would look like. It was sometimes difficult to offer a balance of all the activities featured as the museums that took part could each have had their own feature film.
Some great shots were left on the cutting room floor when we decided we had already covered something elsewhere or where participant comments were great but too long to use in their entirety. There was so much to include that the film ended up being two minutes longer than planned.
The process of creating the films has helped both the team, museums and wider stakeholders realise the great projects we are helping to support. The process was made easier by selecting the right film-maker who really understood our concept and was flexible in his approach.
Chloe Hughes is Community Engagement Officer at Cornwall Museums Partnership.