Matthew O'Neill

The Charlie McAfee Archive: Local Film History and Museum Exhibition

Year: 2015

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Queen's University Belfast
(at time of presentation)

Personal profile:

Matthew G O’Neill received his BA Hons in Media with Film Studies from University of Ulster and his MA in Film and Visual Studies from Queen's University of Belfast. He is currently studying for an MA in Sociology at Queen's University and is in the process of applying for a PhD.



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This paper will explore the possibilities of using amateur film to construct and explore localised history, using the case study of the Charlie McAfee Archive which is housed in the Ballymoney Museum. McAfee was born in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, where he spent most of his time capturing the changing times of the area on 8mm film. During his life he embodied the ‘plain style’ of film-making in depicting ordinary people's lives, from the construction and demolishing of buildings in the local area to filming the Queen’s visit in her coronation year.

My presentation will focus on the community group project from its inception to the finished Museum exhibition. Volunteers learned standard museum practices: handling and care of historical objects; forming a history that is accessible and of interest to a local audience; exhibit display and design. I will also explore the possibility of using this archive for other projects such as working with schools, as well as using amateur film to map the place and space of Ballymoney Town.

The intention is that this research will become a model for other local communities with a rich film history and to engage people with film theory, film practice, constructing history and the possibility of using this history on multiple platforms.