• Welcome to memoirfilms;
    creating community heritage films & personal documentaries

    John Hamlett is a freelance commercial filmmaker, but has a passion for working with communities and making films about people's personal histories.

  • About

    How it started

    I've been a freelance media and film maker all my working life, but when a close aunt died several years ago I realised I'd missed my chance to properly hear so much about her life... if only I had taken the time. So I started filming the people whose life stories I wanted to know; my dad, my mum, then George – a war veteran and mine of local history! I'd also started to work on a number of Heritage Lottery funded projects that really impacted upon me how valuable these sort of stories are, not just to people's families but to their wider communities.

    'Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale'

    I was inspired and couldn't ignore the opportunity to capture the oldest memories from around where I'd grown up, in Kirkby Lonsdale. I took time off from work to film eight wonderful people who I could listen to for hours, all of them over 85 and with fantastic stories of the town in the '30s and '40s.


    Working over a couple of years, I completed the edit on part one – a 70 minute film about the 1930s. Although there's still a long way to go to complete the overall project, part one has had lots of local screenings with full houses, each raising money for local charities. With support from the local civic society and town council I'm now trying to get funding to undertake part two (and possibly part three – the war years). After this the complete film will be shared on DVD and online.


    Everyone's got wonderful stories to tell... some will be incredibly valuable to communities, and others closely treasured by family. Polished films can be very time consuming to create, but capturing these stories doesn't need to take long and means they can be saved forever.


    For community groups funding is available through grants from organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and various local community trusts. I can help with filming, editing, animation, sourcing archive content, DVD publication or online video, public screenings etc. Or if your group just want advice or training – I can help with that.


    For families who want to capture stories I'll always try to do what I can. Sometimes this might mean just some free tips on how to 'do it yourself'. Other times it might be a day's filming or a few days to film and edit something simple that can be shared and cherished.

    My background

    I studied art at university in Newcastle, with a particular focus on documentary photography and unauthorised histories... the sort of stories people tell, rather than the sort historians write! After university, in 1996, I came back to the Lune Valley and started Lunar; freelancing in digital media and video (www.lunar.co.uk). I've been freelance ever since working on commercial projects for companies and organisations large and small. I've also made short films like The POW that have screened at film festivals around the world, pleasingly, winning the odd award.


    I've worked in most sectors but my favourite projects have been for UK charities like Mountain Rescue and Chritian Aid. For the past few years I've been heavily involved with the National Trust, who regularly commission me to make films relating to heritage and environmental conservation around Cumbria.

  • Community projects

    Part one of the feature length 'Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale' will be posted here soon, but in the meantime here's an excerpt, and some other recent community heritage films I've made with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale Station

    Community history from Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

    A short excerpt from part one of my personal film project 'Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale'. The full 70 minute film captures stories of this small market town in the 1930s, as remembered by eight of the town's eldest residents.


    'Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale' Part 1, unfunded, by John Hamlett, 2017

    Jonty Wilson's Story

    Community history from Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

    Audrey Phillips tells the story of her farther Jonty Wilson's experience of the Great War. Jonty was Kirkby Lonsdale's blacksmith and the town's most famous sons b.1893.


    From the 2015 HLF funded 'Then and Now' project directed by Jayne Davies

    Three Harrisons' Stories

    Community history from Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

    George Harrison tells the story of his father's experience of the Great War, together with the role of his grandfather in the territorials pre WWI, and himself as a merchantman in WWII. The Harrison family have always been part of Kirkby Lonsdale life.


    From the 2015 HLF funded 'Then and Now' project directed by Jayne Davies

    Silloth Airfield Project

    Community history from Silloth, Cumbria

    Silloth Airfield, situated to the east of the small seaside town of Silloth-on-Solway in N.W Cumbria, was opened in June 1939, just before the start of WW2. The film preserves the memories of the men and women who were based at the airfield during WW2 and its aftermath.


    From the 2015 HLF funded 'Silloth Airfield Project' directed by Anna Malina

  • Your feedback

    Have you seen 'Remembering Kirkby Lonsdale'? Could you leave any feedback that might help me secure funding to finish the project? Or maybe you just want to ask a question... Please use the form below or just email john@memoirfilms.co.uk