The Making of Water Marks

Creating a heritage film for a coastal town

10 September 2018


The brief was to create a heritage film that looked at 150 years of the history of Wells-next-the-sea including the town, harbour and coastline using Wells Maltings Trust’s archival materials. The film would include people stories such as recollections, reminiscences, and perspectives with a non chronological narrative and a  representation of a wide range of people. Ultimately the moving image would give an essence of what it is and was like to live and work in a seaside town on the north coast of Norfolk.

Research and Development

I planned to find out the different perspectives of the town researching industries such as malting, fishing, shipping and agriculture. I also looked at at newspaper and travel articles and peoples stories. My favourite book was Recollections of Wells by Jean Stone which gave a real insight to the daily life of Wells in the 1920’s through to the 1950’s. I also aimed to mix contemporary materials with the provided archival images and dialogue so took photos, videos and recorded sounds from the town and harbour. As the film was planned to be titled Water Marks I thought it appropriate to add watercolour mark making throughout the film.


From the research and available resources I created a narrative and divided the film into 10 sections. I used the dialogue from residents to help me form the story. The film is based in a day and starts in the fields and geographically works its way around the town, harbour and sea referring to the maps of the town and coastline. It looked at agriculture, shops and services, The Buttlands, wars, railways and trains, harbour, regatta, sea and marsh, floods and holidays and tourism. I tried to cover as much as possible such as the local football team, crabbing, poverty in the yards and the rough seas. Wells is so rich with historical stories that it was hard to be ruthless and cut back the length of the film. Eventually the duration was 9 mins 28 secs and took 4 months to create with plenty of site visits, interviews and research. There was a good bank of archival materials available that helped to form the narrative. I also requested a call out for other materials to add to the collage animated film. I also had the help of my sound editor to refine the soundscape to a professional standard.


The film has been on show for a couple of months with positive feedback.

Wells Maltings Director Simon Daykin said ”The film is – quite frankly – stunning. You’ve not only captured the spirit of the brief, but have also created something that is hugely accessible, evocative, charming and beautiful. I can see our visitors being captivated and entertained hugely.’’

Mary Blue Brady, Arts & Heritage Learning Officer  also commented ​”I think this is an award winning piece.  Several times throughout the film I noticed goosebumps on my arm.  It is a funny, moving, creative, soulful piece and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to work with you.’’

I am so pleased to have the opportunity to create the film and really fell in love with Wells. It was wonderful to discover lots of hidden treasures that maybe unknown to some.

If you are interested in a heritage film for your organisation please contact me at I would love to hear your stories and help you create a moving image that will engage and captivate your audience.

You can also view my other projects such as a WWI community engagement project commissioned by Ipswich Museum including visual and sound workshops, interviews, call outs for archival materials and a heritage film that looks at Ipswich and the Armistice.





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