Farewell and hello

I’m Hannah, and I’ve been project managing Make Film, Make History since February. It’s been a really brilliant project to work on, from the complex subject matter to the amazing enthusiasm of the participants. Coordinating partners and participants across three different countries has sometimes been challenging; from poor connections for meetings over Skype to the logistics of getting over 30 people together in Belgium for our first residential. But, as always, it’s the people you meet that makes it all worthwhile.

Hannah Guthrie talks to Make Film participants, in Ypres, Belgium

It’s been great to meet the young people from across Germany, Denmark and the UK. I enjoyed meeting them in Ypres, I’ve loved seeing their film ideas develop and I’ve loved finding out more about their views on the project and the topics they’re covering through their blog posts. We’ve set them some tough challenges; developing creative ideas via virtual communication, producing short films with tight production schedules, and doing all this with people who don’t share the same first language and who they only met in person for a few days in April. I’m so impressed with how they’ve responded, the ideas they’ve had and the adaptations they’ve made as the project has progressed.

It’s with a heavy heart that I say farewell to Make Film, Make History. I’m having my second daughter in January and I’ll be finishing work just before Christmas. But I hope I get invited to meet up with everyone again when they come to London in April 2016 and I can’t wait to see the finished films. I’m happy leaving the project in the capable hands of my colleague Eleanor Hilton.

L-R, Hannah Guthrie and Eleanor Hilton

I’m Eleanor, and I’ll be taking over as Project Manager for the final phase of Make Film Make History while Hannah is away on maternity leave. Hannah has done a great job and is leaving some big shoes for me to try to fill, but I’m looking forward to the challenge!

Like many other people, my personal interest in the First World War was sparked when I found out that my grandfather and my great uncle had both been involved in the conflict. They both worked in France as medical personnel — my grandfather as an ambulance driver, and my great uncle as a hospital orderly. I was able to learn about their experiences through the diaries they kept throughout the war, in which they wrote of their experiences treating the sick and wounded within earshot of the frontline. Their diaries showed me the huge impact the First World War had on all those who experienced it, inspiring me to study history, to become a history teacher, and in more recent years to move into museum-based learning.

I have had the privilege of working with IWM’s incredible First World War collections for several years now, through my role within IWM’s learning team. For me, the personal stories are what make our collections such a valuable resource for learning about the human experience of the First World War. There is such a variety of experience represented — men, women, young, old, home front, Western Front and fighting fronts around the world — and working with our learners as they investigate these stories for themselves has always been the best part of my job.

I am very much looking forward to working on the Make Film Make History project. I’m particularly excited to work with such a dynamic group of partners and participants from across Europe, each bringing a different perspective and skill set to the project. The creative ideas for each of the films are truly inspiring, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it all come together.