A Bunch of Amateurs
The Bradford Movie Makers have been holding meetings every Monday since 1932; they are one of the oldest remaining amateur film clubs, and A Bunch of Amateurs is their story. Beautifully simple and nostalgic, the picture begins with Colin Egglestone – former president of the club – assembling an old projector to peruse a montage of old works. This heavy introduction outlines the contrast between thriving days of the club’s past to its current state of deterioration. In the present time, they face vandalism, financial instability, a lack of interest and the withering health of their oldest members.
There’s a very strong focus on their makeshift family dynamics. Arguments and infighting occur, specifically to do with generational differences, the introduction of new, complex technology and methods of filming against the unchanging and comfortable classical techniques that result in stagnation. There is further debate surrounding the differences between movie makers and movie watchers, commercial versus amateur flicks, starting projects before finishing old ones, and the state of surviving instead of flourishing. Still, there are apologies and forgiveness, and the club members stay and support each other through personal struggles.
This found family dynamic is what sells the story of Bradford Movie Makers so well that viewers will find themselves attached to each member. The love and passion for amateur movie making is something that sparks hope, drawing the audience in to root for their success. This heartfelt through line is guided by excellent production that highlights the age of the members and the club. From the differing ratios of old and new films and the close-ups that emphasise wrinkles to the focus on vintage paraphernalia relating to the love of cinema, such as posters and character figures. All of this represents an era of filmmaking that’s different from today’s, driving home how far the Bradford Movie Makers have fallen.
A Bunch of Amateurs also tackles topics rarely acknowledged in discussions surrounding Covid 19 – like the effects of isolation among the elderly who live alone, and the businesses that were saved by government schemes. For all its downsides, the pandemic comes as a sort of Hail Mary for the club, granting them £10,000 to help pay off bills and refurbish their building. This small mercy reignites the members’ hope for their organisation to continue surviving, despite the changing tides in both society and the industry. While there are still uncertainties, the film ends on an uplifting and positive note.
A Bunch of Amateurs is released in select cinemas on 11th November 2022.
Watch the trailer for A Bunch of Amateurs here: