Doc Rowe film and archive project

by Fifth Column FIlms in Whitby, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Total raised £66,073

raised so far

1126

supporters

Join us in saving Doc Rowe’s precious archive of British folk traditions, and help launch an exciting new film about his work.

by Fifth Column FIlms in Whitby, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 17th November 2023 we'd raised £58,429 with 1031 supporters in 29 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

 New stretch target

A huge thankyou to everybody that's donated thus far. Now we've hit the target of £58,000 we have the funds to digitise all Doc's film and video material, but there's still a huge amount of work to do marking up and cataloguing it, not to mention trawling through all 1,500 hours of it selecting material to go into the film. Please do keep donating to help us manage the huge task ahead, and if there were any rewards you were keen on but missed out please do contact us and we'll do what we can to oblige! 


"Britain's greatest folklorist." The Guardian

Doc Rowe has been documenting the folk traditions of mainland Britain since the mid 1960s, and has built up a vast collection of irreplaceable audiovisual material spanning 60 years. Rob Curry and Tim Plester (the co-directors of THE BALLAD OF SHIRLEY COLLINS and WAY OF THE MORRIS) began making a film about Doc during lockdown, the primary impetus of which was to ensure that the archive was preserved for posterity. We want to feature as much of Doc's incredible footage as we can in the film, but, in the spirit of ‘being the change we want to see’, we want to play a role in permanently securing Doc's legacy. Rather than just digitise the bits we need, we are therefore launching this crowdfund to (hopefully, with your help) create a permanent digital archive of all the material related to folk traditions that is currently languishing on film stock and old video formats in Doc's hallowed archive in Whitby. The resultant digital copy will then be housed in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, and will allow Doc to share the material with the communities that preserve these customs, and eventually the general public.

WHO ARE WE WORKING WITH?

Cornish production company awen productions CIC, run by filmmaker Barbara Santi, recently received a large Heritage Lottery Fund grant to return Doc's huge collection of materials related to Padstow Mayday to Cornwall. This was our primary inspiration to launch this crowdfunder, and we are liaising closely with them so both projects digitise material to the same specification, and can be kept in one central resource.

The Museum of British Folklore have hosted numerous exhibitions with Doc, and are supporting this project from the outset.

The British Film Institute are providing the specifications for the digitisation process, ensuring the footage is future proofed and stored in the correct format.

Dirty Looks, one of the UK's premiere post-production houses, is overseeing the archival transfer process.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) will retain a permanent copy of the digitised material in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, and seek advice on how best to share the material publicly.

WHAT WILL WE DIGITISE?

This project has the specific remit to digitise and transcode Doc's film and video material related to folk traditions and calendar customs. Alongside the film and video material, Doc has a huge collection of sound recordings and photographs which also need a home. Additionally, he has an equivalent amount of material connected with traditional song, which is sadly also out of scope of this project. 

All photos by Doc Rowe

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

Doc's material is on a host of formats, but for simplicity's sake we've broken it down into broad categories.

  • If we raise 9,000, we'll digitise all his film material from the 1960s and 70s.
  • If we raise 17,000, we'll digitise all his VHS material from the 80s and 90s as well.
  • If we raise 25,000, we'll also digitise his Mini DV material from the 2000s.
  • Beyond that, resources will be used to complete the film and start the digitisation of Doc's traditional music footage.

The material will be stored on duplicate Enterprise Hard Drives, and archived on LTO-9 Tape.

ABOUT THE FILM

This new feature documentary from Tim Plester and Rob Curry follows Doc Rowe over the course of a calendar year like no other. Having spent the last 60 years documenting the enduring folk customs of the British Isles, his obsessive, perennial ramblings were rudely interrupted by the outbreak of Covid-19. Picking up with him on Mayday 2021, the film follows Doc through the travails of the forthcoming year, as he tries to get back on the road despite a series of health issues and imposed lockdowns. Alongside this, Doc has reached a crossroads in his life, and his vast collection of audiovisual material is now too unwieldy to manage on his own. The film follows Doc as he tries to find a permanent home for it all, and cement not only his legacy but that of the customs he has dedicated his life to documenting. A timely celebration of the varied working-class communities that doggedly maintain the weird and wonderful events that Doc champions, the film is a patchwork portrait of modern Britain, which offers-up hope during this turbulent period of fracture and renewal.

WHO WE ARE

Fifth Column Films have been making films about England's folk traditions for over a decade. Their first film, Way of the Morris, which told the story of the Morris revival in Tim's home village of Adderbury in North Oxfordshire. It screened at numerous festivals and was broadcast on Sky, and despite only being 63 minutes long, received a 40 screen cinema release in the UK. Their follow up, The Ballad of Shirley Collins, told the story of the iconic folk singer's return to the stage. It premiered at the BFI London Film Festival and was released theatrically in the UK and US. Their last film, Southern Journey (Revisited) retraced the footsteps of song collectors Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins across the Southern US. It premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest, and was a Guardian 'pick of lockdown culture'.

ABOUT ‘DOC’ ROWE

David ‘Doc’ Rowe is a product of the 1960s art-school scene, which featured a democratisation of intake, whereby everyday folk were empowered to shape discourse and culture for the first time.

Doc Rowe holding a cameraIt is this background that helps inform Doc’s distinctive take on the festivals that he frequents; for it’s not the mythology and heritage that excites him, but the communal sense of togetherness that manifests at such events. Indeed, alongside his perennial perambulations, Doc was involved in both the anti-apartheid and CND movements, and approached documenting them with the same work ethic and inclusive spirit that he brings to the calendar customs. Perennially broke from self-funding his lifetime obsession, he has sacrificed anything approaching a conventional career in favour of the freedom to travel the country. Somehow, despite the far-flung places he visits, he’s achieved this without ever learning to drive - hitchhiking in the early days with a bagful of recording equipment. The document of this nation’s traditions and customs that he has built up along the way is an unparalleled and priceless resource for which we are all collectively in his debt. Working together, we can return the favour, and permanently secure the future of his irreplaceable body of work.

Rewards

This project offered rewards

£22 or more

Stream the finished film

Streaming link to the completed film, plus your name in the credits to express our appreciation.

£33 or more

Download / own the finished film

Download and keep forever a copy of the film, plus name in the credits.

£33 or more

NEW: Campaign t-shirt ONLY

Get the wonderful official campaign t-shirt, only available here, designed by Anna FC Smith from one of the watercolour composites she produced while artist in residence at Doc Rowe's archive (postage included in donation). Also available in bundle below. See design here:- https://fifthcolumn.org.uk/34807537

£33 or more

Macfarlane/Flynn CD ONLY

Signed CD of Johnny Flynn and Robert Macfarlane's new album The Moon Also Rises

£33 or more

England on Fire book ONLY

Signed copy of England on Fire: A Visual Journey Through Psychic Landscape, Mat Osman and Stephen Ellcock's incredible book on English folk art

£44 or more

Download / own film with exclusive bonus features

Bonus features including round table discussion hosted by Eliza Carthy, directors 'dvd style' commentary and exclusive deleted scenes and selections from Doc's archive. Plus download and keep forever a copy of the film, plus name in the credits.

£75 or more

Screening bundle

VIP Invite to the Premiere of the film, with a directors Q&A [Travel not included] - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits

£75 or more

Macfarlane/Flynn CD bundle

Signed CD of Johnny Flynn and Robert Macfarlane's new album The Moon Also Rises - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits

£75 or more

Anna FC Smith t-shirt bundle

Unique to this campaign, t-shirt designed by Anna FC Smith from one of the watercolour composites she produced while artist in residence at Doc Rowe's archive - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits. See design here:- https://fifthcolumn.org.uk/34807537

£75 or more

NEW: England on Fire bundle

Signed copy of England on Fire: A Visual Journey Through Psychic Landscape, Mat Osman and Stephen Ellcock's incredible book on English folk art - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits

£300 or more

D|CK GAUGHAN Special

Stunning oil and enamel on board painting of D|CK GAUGHAN’s 1981 LP Handful of Earth by artist Henry Miller. An LP of Scottish nationalist songs and very old highland ballads. Henry’s work is currently on show in the John Moores Painting Prize at Liverpool’s Walker Gallery. 25cm sq. View it here:- https://fifthcolumn.org.uk/34873868

£500 or more

Doc Rowe Special

VIP visit to Doc Rowe's archives in Whitby [Travel not included] - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits.

£5,000 or more

Executive Producer credit

Be a material part of completing the project. Includes VIP invite to the premiere + exclusive signed print of film poster + download of the finished film with bonus features.

£75 or more

Alan Moore Bundle

Personalised signed copy of wizard and graphic novel maestro Alan Moore's short story collection 'Illuminations'. Plus download of the film, bonus features and name in the credits.

£75 or more

Ben Edge Bundle

Ben Edge 2024 calendar signed by the artist and directors. Plus download of the film, bonus features and name in credits.

£75 or more

Boss Morris exclusive

Limited edition (10 only) signed A4 Boss Morris Gicleé print by Alex Merry, exclusive to this campaign - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits

£85 or more

Macfarlane/Flynn VINYL bundle

Signed vinyl copy of Johnny Flynn and Robert Macfarlane's new album The Moon Also Rises - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits

£100 or more

Boss Morris bundle

Gorgeous limited edition print of Boss Morris (from a set of 1/50) by a local artist. Plus download of the film, bonus features and name in credits.

£100 or more

Folklore Tapes bundle - The Ritual Year

Your own copy of The Ritual Year, the Folklore Tapes incredible book about the calendar customs artwork of Dave Pearson + rare accompanying 7" vinyl - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits.

£500 or more

Boss Morris Special

A unique opportunity for you and a friend to join Boss Morris for a Tuesday night practice session in Stroud (on a night of your choosing). Learn the basics of Cotswold morris & join them in a dance. Plus a hearty merch bundle worth £200 & a drink in't pub afterwards.

£500 or more

Ben Edge special

VIP visit to artist Ben Edge's London studio [Travel not included] and print bundle worth £250 - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits.

£500 or more

Museum of British Folklore Special

VIP guided tour of the 'Making Mischief: Folk Costume in Britain' Exhibition, in London April/June 2024 for you and a friend [Travel not included] and a special merch bundle from the museum archives - plus download of the film, bonus features, and name in the credits.

£1,000 or more

Associate Producer credit

Be a core part of completing the film. Includes VIP invite to the premiere + exclusive signed print of film poster + download of the finished film with bonus features

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