29th March 2023

A hidden treasure trove of archive footage that was unexpectedly discovered when digging up family history is now available to license from Screenocean. The extraordinary story of amateur filmmaker, Harry Birrell, the man who captured his life on camera, has been brought to life by his granddaughter, Carina Birrell, who turned the collection into a stunning feature documentary.

He shot a large amount of footage throughout his life spanning from 1918 to the 1980s, 16mm and 32mm, and over 400 reels were discovered. There is wonderful 1930s colour footage as well as WW2 footage whilst he served in the Indian Army and throughout the Burma war, during which he kept entailed diaries, and some fantastic international films within his collection as well as some great Scottish material.

Following one man’s cinematic quest to document his experiences, in 1972 Birrell entered an amateur film-making competition, and his prize-winning film was a 4-hour chronicle of his adventures from 1918. Carina explained the motivation to rescue these forgotten memories:

“It's been a long time ambition of mine as a filmmaker myself to do something with Harry's work, as before this it had just lay gathering dust and only seen by the family and some friends, as well as screened by Harry himself in his homemade little cinema in Glasgow during the 50s and 60s.  One of my main incentives in making the film was to celebrate his archive and also make it more widely available as we do get regular requests for footage, photos and diary extracts.”

The recent feature film comprised of Harry's archive, ‘Harry Birrell Presents Films Of Love And War’, was a great success in the cinema and on BBC Scotland and BBC Four, and Screenocean is delighted to add this stunning collection of clips to our represented collections.


Originally published: 21/05/2021