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Boat stories: catching the human side of fisheries

To help preserve and promote the local fishing communities of North Devon, UK, Boat stories set sail with the North Devon FLAG in 2014 to make 10 short films telling the personal stories of those living and working with boats in the area. The stories, told by the skippers or crew, open the door to a world mostly hidden to even those who live on the coast, enticing the audience to come and have a closer look.

The series was enriched by an informative website, lively blogs and active social media detailing relevant local events, information and contacts. Two public screenings, held in 2015, gathered some 700 people and became key features of the Sea Ilfracombe festival and Bideford’s 'Fishtival' celebration. Fishermen featured in the short films took questions from an audience of artists, conservationists, families, enthusiasts, local politicians and fellow fishermen.

One of the films, entitled ‘A Life in the Day of a Young Fisherman’, illustrates the direct benefit of the project for fishermen. This film shows the hard work of Ben Bengey, an eighteen-year-old fisherman, who is out on the water from dawn until dusk to pay off the loan on his boat and still finds time to volunteer on the Ilfracombe lifeboat crew. Ben took the film to the Southbank Centre in London to help launch the Blue New Deal campaign for coastal communities and is now the Seafish* 'the world is your oyster' ambassador - a campaign to get new recruits into the industry. 

Benefits

•The website has had over 70 000 hits to date and the films have had over 40 000 YouTube views, with another 2 000 or more watching the outtakes.

•The television broadcaster ITV WestCountry took up all ten films as their first ever web series with broadcast reports.

•Over 60 events from food festivals to village halls have shown the films. The ‘Clovelly herring’ and ‘salmon netting’ episodes were selected by the official jury of the 25th Bath Film Festival.

•To empower fishermen and guest stars and give them visibility by showing their films and promoting their work, their organisation and the North Devon area.

•Working with young and new talent. One young sound technician secured a job as media technician at the local college and several musicians have received more commissions to make music for films.


Quote from Ben, fisherman of Ilfracombe:

“…being in the movie gave me confidence to talk about my work as a fisherman, and show other young people you can make it in the industry”


Project information

Lead/Coordinating organization: Jo Stewart-Smith / North Devon Moving Image

Project location: Appledore, Bideford, Ilfracombe and Clovelly; North Devon, UK.

Timeframe of implementation: March 2014 to October 2015

Total project cost: 51 858.50 €

EU contribution (EFF Axis 4): 21 759.64 €

Other public contribution (national): 22 404.08 €

Private contribution: 7 694.79 €

FLAG supporting the project: Northern Devon FLAG

Project website: http://www.boatstories.co.uk/

Contact details and links to further project information:

email: boatstories (at) outlook.com, telephone: +44 (0)781 681 5761