Archive film inspires a new generation

The Make Film – Greatest Generation scheme will help children aged 7-11 make their own short documentaries exploring the lives of British people at the time of the Second World War.


Children Learning by Experience (1947)

Children Learning by Experience (1947)

Children aged 7-11 will have the opportunity to make their own short local history documentaries as part of an innovative new filmmaking project exploring life in the UK before, during and in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Inspired by the BBC2 series Britain’s Greatest Generation, which commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, the Make Film – Greatest Generation scheme will encourage children to explore the history of their region by filming interviews with surviving members of the wartime generation. They will also be able to incorporate clips from a selection of archive films from 1930 to 1960 in order to make a short film.

Run by the film education charity Into Film in collaboration with the BFI, BBC Learning and the British Council, the project will showcase the completed films on the Into Film website later this year. Three of the films will be selected for preservation in the BFI National Archive, while a BBC compilation programme will be broadcast on the BBC Two Learning Zone.

To find out more and get involved with the Make Film – Greatest Generation project go to

Educational resources for participants can be found on the website, including advice on how to find and interview an eyewitness, a filmmaking toolkit, and guidelines for analysing what makes a good documentary. Steve Humphries, who is producing Britain’s Greatest Generation, also shares his top tips for interviewing and making a life story documentary. In addition, there’s a special ‘how to’ video in which children from Manchester’s William Hulme Grammar school interviewed Gladys Parry about her experience leaving school at 14 to make seats for Lancaster Bombers. 

The complete collection of archive clips will be available from mid April.

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