Bill Shepard - A Personal History of Newport and a little about my own learning process.
In 2013 I had the priviledge of meeting Bill Shepard and learning about some of the history of Newport. I was introduced to him by Claire Hector, who was working at the time with Natural Enterprise. With the support of both Natural Enterprise, the Newport Rivers Group and Newport Parish Council, we set off on a journey to explore the social history of The Lukely River and Newport Quay.
Bill was born in Orchard Street in Newport in the early 1900s and has lived in Carisbrooke & Newport all his life. He is a keen natural historian, arborealist and collector of local knowledge. His passion for the River and its surrounding wildlife came across very strongly on our walks and many I time, I was transported away by what he was saying. Very few people I have spoken to have heard of or taken notice of the river that runs down from Carisbrooke into Newport. I hope that these films will encourage you to take another look at what is flowing passed you as you drive through town in your car or rush to the nearest bus stop before leaving.
The start of The River Lukely
We started our filming journey by the ford, off Clatterford Rd, Caribrooke.
I think I was slightly in awe of Bill's age at the time and didn't feel confident in directing him to look at the camera. I wanted him to be comfortable with the filming process, so took a very relaxed approach. Unfortunately this did lead to a number of problems with the final film, more of which later..
Caribrooke Mill is in private ownership, but we were given access to the grounds and Bill reminisced about the happy times he spent on the Mill pond when it was open to the public for a small fee.
Bill talks about life on the Quay.
More about life on the Quay, including talk of the rail, coal and flour industries.
A bit about my own learning
A number of technical difficulties arose whilst making the above films: making the transition between DV tapes and HD mid project was not a good idea!; mid edit my Mac gave up the ghost and there were problems with the way I had backed things up etc.
Having little technical backup and with confidence at a low ebb, I was close to giving up entirely. I had already spent far too long on this project, giving it more and more time, simply because I liked the subject and the commissioning organisation, but I got there in the end and decided to keep these four films as they were.
So what have I learnt from this? Well, to be clear about what can be expected with limited resources; not to overstretch myself and then feel insecure when I fail to achieve; to ask for help when you need it; to believe in the power of telling a story and not to get hung up about technicalities. There are plenty of people out there who can bore you for hours with technical jargon, but not everyone can tell a good story; there is value in getting on with people and making them feel at ease in your presence!