This blog post comes in between two big rafts of work. Next week I shall be in North Wales shooting on location for four days, making a film about the Princes of Gwynedd, who ruled much of Wales up to the 14th century. And this week just gone, I and my esteemed colleagues at Dream Machine Media have been overseeing the launch of the project that first brought me on board with the company - Dunkeswell: War Stories.
Dunkeswell: War Stories is an interactive video project for the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It tells the story of Dunkeswell Air Station, which began as an RAF base but was used by the US Navy Air Force during the latter part of World War II. The huge Liberator bombers that were stationed there flew hundreds of missions over the Bay of Biscay, seeking out and destroying German U-boats. They played a significant part in the Battle of the Atlantic, one aspect of the war which is frequently overlooked.
Over the last six months I've been involved in every stage of the production, beginning with locating and cataloguing photographs, a fair amount of desk research, moving into finding and interviewing contributors from the local area and working with local schools. We were blessed to find so many people in the Dunkeswell area who remember the base and the Americans in some way; they have a wide range of fascinating stories to tell about how life changed for them and the sleepy little village in which they lived. We also managed to find and interview four US Navy veterans who flew missions from Dunkeswell. Had we done this project a year or two later, we might never have got the chance to share their memories with the world.
The project is organised into 20 or so short films, each on a different theme or aspect of life in and around the base and village. We use bespoke software called NavMotion, which allows us to embed clickable content into a film so people can dive deeper into a given topic. This is truly an interactive project, in which you can view the stories in any order and get as much out of it as you wish.
When I first got involved with Dream Machine Media, I was originally going to be on board for two weeks. Six months later I'm still here and loving every second of it. I'm immensely proud of the work we've done on Dunkeswell: War Stories, and feel privileged to share these stories with you now.
You can watch the project online at dunkeswellwarstories.com. There will also be interactive kiosks with the films being installed at The Aviator cafe on Dunkeswell Airfield and the Allhallows Museum in Honiton by the end of this month. More content will be added in the coming weeks, so for all the latest news and updates, follow Dream Machine Media on Twitter @dreammachiners. I hope you enjoy the films as much as we enjoyed making them.