BRADFORD is the world’s first UNESCO City of Film - but not many people know that it also harbours one of the oldest amateur film-making clubs in the country, if not the world.

Bradford Movie Makers, formerly Bradford Cine Club, was formed in 1932, but developed from meetings held in 1926. It has been in its current building, off Little Horton Lane, since 1935.

Amazingly, the club is still going strong. Weekly meetings attract around 20 enthusiasts who continue to make films for local competitions and festivals. Club members also enjoy social events and outings.

"Recently members took the opportunity to repair and renovate the building, adding a green room and audio room to the existing small cinema and kitchen,” says president Marie McCahery. “Many members have been making films of the renovations and of the effects of lockdown, but are keen to start new projects.”

Club treasurer Andrew Cockerill is particularly interested in old films and equipment. The club’s film archive includes a colour film made in the 1940s - at the time colour film would have been extremely expensive. Following the renovations, the club now has more space to keep such equipment.

Members welcome donations of films made in the Bradford area. “We recently received films from former Keighley MP Ann Cryer, and we are keen to organise shipping of some old films from the 1960s and 70s, from the daughter of a former member now living in Australia,” says Marie.

It was Marie’s passion for all things vintage that led to her interest in film-making. She filmed the various vintage events she attended, and needed the skills to turn the footage into a film. “But even better is to see real film of life in previous decades,” she says

Colin Egglestone, 88, is the club's oldest member and has been attending regularly since 1976. The retired cabinet-maker is delighted to see the renovations.

“When I joined there was a waiting list,” he recalls. “I go every week and love the films. My son Ian is also a member.”

Fellow octogenarian Harry Nicholls still makes films too, and, as a retired close-up magician, loves practising tricks on camera. The 82-year-old recently won an award at Burnley Film Festival.

The club - which will be 90 years-old in 2022 - is due to feature in a full length documentary A Bunch of Amateurs, by an award-winning filmmaker. Filming began before lockdown, and took place over a three-year period. Supported by the British Film Institute, and produced by York-based Labor of Love Films, it is due to be released in late 2021/early 2022.

The movie-making process has changed dramatically with advances of technology.

“The skills are different but we're all telling a story,” says member Joe Ogden. “Old film was less clinical-looking than digital, yet old cine film had quite a small frame, so you had to be a good camera operator to get details, and it was very expensive back in the day, a hobby for the rich.

“With digital, you can have a full studio in the palm of your hand for pocket money prices, and with social media it can reach more people in a day than old films could in a lifetime.”

Member Phil Wainman says: "In many ways digital video technology has made filmmaking easier, cheaper and far more accessible than it used to be. That said, there are still a lot of technical and creative skills to learn in order to produce, shoot, direct and edit a good short film.

“For some older members the digital medium has proved a challenge as it requires computer skills in order to store and edit their footage. This is very different from the physical process of shooting, cutting and cementing strips of film together, the way it used to be done.”

Member Ian Simpson adds: “Movie-making is far easier with modern technology than it was on film. I bought my first Super 8 cine camera and projector in 1973 when I was 17. I have always enjoyed incorporating visual effects. I can do so much more with modern software.

“Some people believe filmmaking is difficult - one of the main principles of Bradford Movie Makers is that anyone can pick up a camera and learn to make a documentary or fiction film.”

Says Phil: “Some members specialise in specific skills like visual effects, writing, directing or cinematography. Many of us have multiple skills which is common in the amateur filmmaking world, where lack of budget means you have to be a jack of all trades. Not everyone in the club makes films, you can join the club as a writer, producer or actor - you don't have to be a camera person.” Other important roles include treasurer and publicist.

For members seeking actors, casting websites are useful. Says Jim Walker: "I make fiction films and I soon learnt not to use people who couldn’t really act. One bad actor loses the suspension of disbelief for the film. I use casting websites such as StarNow, which are free to use for the filmmaker.”

It is not necessary for new members to have a movie-making camera or expertise.

Says member Joe Ogden: “If you have a camera it helps, but you may want to be a scriptwriter, or act, or do some editing. A lot of things go into making films. Don't go out and buy an expensive camera and expect miracles - you can start by using your mobile phone.

You can make a good film with a mobile phone or a bad film with a £5000 camera. The skill is to do it over and over, and learn from your mistakes. Build up your kit as you need it, or hire it, when and only when you need it.”

Member Dave Marshall says: “One of the main principles of the Bradford Movie Makers is that anyone can pick up a camera and learn to make a documentary or fiction film. This is no longer a medium which is only available to a privileged few.”

Adds Phil Wainman: “We are happy to help novices take their first steps in learning about filmmaking. Also, you can join the club as a writer, producer or actor - you don't have to be a camera person.”

Films can be anything between two minutes to 15 minutes, sometimes longer depending on the subject matter. Making them can range from a month to two years, if the film has complex special effects

The club holds competitions, challenge matches against other clubs and social events throughout the year.

Says Ian Simpson: “There are also external competitions such as the BIAFF (British International Amateur Film Festival) I have enjoyed entering.”

The club is open to new members. Membership costs £20 per year. Meetings are held on a Monday evening. To contact them visit