May Fair event celebrates work of Ballyclare filmmaker

The work of Archie Reid will be showcased.
The work of Archie Reid will be showcased.

A celebration of the movies made by amateur filmmaker Archie Reid will be screened during a special Picture House Community Cinema event on May 19.

Archie was a prolific and award winning amateur filmmaker, with many short movies made documenting local life around Northern Ireland including short films about his beloved home town of Ballyclare ‘starring’ a cast of friends, neighbours and local school children.

Now a selection of his short movies have been curated by NI Screen and brought to the big screen by the Ballyclare Picture House, a local community cinema that holds monthly screenings of films in the Town Hall.

“The May Fair has a long history in the town and is always the highlight of the year for local people. We wanted to compile a selection of this amazing archive footage made by Archie and his wife Lindy and their friends,” explained Robert Robinson of Ballyclare Picture House.

The event is free and takes place in the Town Hall at 8pm (doors at 7.30pm) on Saturday, May 19 – screening of the short films will be supplemented by interludes of music, poetry and talks with people who worked with Archie during his film making career.

Archie, who lived in Ballyclare his whole life until his death in 2005, got into filmmaking as a student at Queen’s University when he joined the camera club and got the chance to begin making films. He preferred it to photography and kept up his new hobby when he went on to do a postgraduate teaching qualification at Stranmillis College, where he met Lindy – a 17 year-old trainee teacher.

“The camera club there put up a poster saying ‘Wanted: Women’ for films and photoshoots – I went along but I preferred doing the technical jobs rather than posing! I did the sound and back up then the sound was recorded separately and you had to match everything up,” Lindy explained.

The couple went on to become teachers and married in 1961. It was in 1972 through school that they met Iza and Joan McDowell – also teachers – whose mother Florence Mary had written ‘Other Days Around Me’, a reminiscence of growing up in the County Antrim countryside.

“Florence Mary asked Archie to make the movie and he agreed as long as Iza and Joan looked after the practical side. They roped in 30 children and many friends and we made the movie!

“The film went on to win a Ten Best Award in the Institute of Amateur Cinematography Awards and was shown at the National Film Theatre in London,” she said.

By this time, Archie had formed ARC Films with chums Craig Clements, Rex Thompson and Rowel Friers, the renowned Belfast Telegraph cartoonist. Rowel Friers starred in this comedy playing no less than three roles in the film including the local parish priest.

The group found humour in the lack of knowledge of the English people about Northern Ireland and that inspired them to make Sodom and Begorrah, a comedy about the attitudes to Ireland.

“The film is dedicated to people who have misconceptions of Irish life. We put up signs for the town of Ballybegorrah but it was really Holywood. From idea to completion took two years but it was such fun,” Lindy explained.

Archie continued to teach history and media studies while making his films and eventually took a job making education videos for the education and library board as well as doing some films for Newtownabbey Council.

Everyone is welcome to come along to see a collection of Archie’s work at the Picture House event on May 19.

While tickets are free, seats are limited so booking is advised. For further information go to www.ballyclarecinema.com or Facebook/ picturehouseBCC.

Film stock kindly made available courtesy of Northern Ireland Screen and the BFI.