What do you do with some video footage slipped into a handbag, a former employee who refuses to be interviewed and a huge abandoned paper mill in the heart of Dover?
We have now completed our 90-min feature documentary, Watermark, inspired by footage of the last Conqueror paper run at Buckland Mill Dover, and featuring former mill workers.
Described by Screen South as one of the "standout success stories of the region" Watermark engages deeply with the people in the film, tells the wider story of industry in Dover and kent and examines ideas of work and identity in a way that recognises the complexity of the issues involved.
Beautifully and sensitively filmed and edited, with an original sound score that can be seen as part of the script, and using archive photographs, archive film footage including fascinating never-before seen super-8 footage, the film successfully crosses the boundary between "film" and "art".
Dover is well known for its port and castle and less well known for its industries. Through making the film, an aspect of Dover's industrial heritage and more widely that of Kent has been collected and preserved and the audience is invited to reflect on the deindustrialisation of Dover, part of a national and international story of our time.
The Mill made paper in Dover until its closure in 2000 with the loss of the last 300 jobs. A wave of redundancies in 1989 had already put many employees out of work. The impact of the closure was traumatic - whole families found themselves without work and their identity severely questioned, after more than 300 years of papermaking.
The origins of the project date back to DAD's Hidden Treasures project in September 2008: a weekend of screenings of archive film footage in the abandoned mill house. The event attracted many former employees, including Pat Avery who handed DAD a DVD of A job for life by Roy Buddle of the last run of Conqueror paper being made at Buckland Mill in 1999. Pat Avery didn't want to be interviewed but he did want the story told.
Through the film’s main characters one understands what life at the Mill was like and how papermaking was transformed from being 'very hard work” to “just pressing buttons.” We get a sense of the speed of technological change in the workplace and what that means for people’s jobs.
- warm, funny, shocking, sad…...
Why did the Mill close when it was still making a profit? How important was Dover water? How has the closure impacted on Dover? How did papermaking change from an art to a science? What price progress? How is everyone doing now?
Watermark is a DAD production directed by Marianne Kapfer with sound design and original music composition by Robert Jarvis. It is written and edited by Marianne Kapfer and Dominic de Vere. Additional music for the film is from Robert Osborne, Mick Morris and Richard Bundy.
Robert Barnard, Cassie Beckley, Naomi Hemmings, Jamie Jenkinson, Korinna McRobert and Marley Showler, UCA Fine Art Media students worked with us as crew and each made a 2-minute teaser to be shown on the BBC Live Site in Dover's market square as a way of stimulating interest in the final film.
The project was enabled by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Screen South and the UK Film Council’s Digital Film Archive Fund supported by the National Lottery. Additional funding was provided by the Kent Film Office, Sea Change Dover, Kent County Council and Dover Town Council and English Heritage. Access to the Buckland Mill site has been granted by SEEDA.
Additional partnership support was provided by the University for the Creative Arts, the University of Kent and Dover Museum.
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