Films for use in the classroom
"Hanna you must be a crackpot"

In the early twenties, the cinema offered many children a place to visit that gave them a comfortable seat, often more cosy that they had at home. The buildings were warm in winter and cool in summer. The films they watched gave them a land of make-belief, that was easy to assimilate, it was not too demanding on their concentration as reading a book.

Often, I found when reading a book that really interested me, that, after a few lines, my mind would start to wander and thoughts that the text had suggested would go racing through my mind, and for a while my mind would move away from the book altogether.

Whilst my mind-hopping often led to new ideas and inventions - I came to the conclusion that films could be more inspiring and more easily followed. I could see a time when cinemas would show a short film before the feature film - something of a more documentary nature to widen the horizons of the audiences who had come to be entertained.

I had a vision of a machine that would bring pictures to every home and a library where people could borrow films to play on their own machine. As a teacher I was determined that I should help to make this dream a reality and create an atmosphere of enjoyment into teaching and so improve the willingness to learn and so improve the standard of education.

It was sad in a way that it was the spin-offs from making weapons for warfare that new materials and ideas were adopted for peaceful purposes. In the training of the fighting services, films became a successful weapon. And so it was that later the National Committee for Visual Aids in Education added to its list of blackboard and chalk, pictures and charts - the possibility of instructional films for use in the classroom. They called upon me to tell them how it could be done.

I told the academics that it was their duty to foster good craftsmanship. That craftsmanship was an essential part of our tradition and heritage, and that in years to come, our country would be the poorer if we neglected to teach the value of all useful trades and crafts. I expressed the view that in all schools, girls as well as boys should be given the opportunity to use tools and materials, both wood and metal, and that they should be taught to appreciate the historical developments and influences on mankind in determining the form of society.

Whilst many agreed with my comments, it was an not easy task to convince my colleagues in the teaching profession that films in the classroom could be a useful aid to their teaching. No doubt many regarded me as a bit of a crackpot; others considered that I was a. opportunist trying to make a few pounds with a new gimmick.

But nothing could have been further from my mind. It was mostly at my own expense that I went into pioneering 'films for use in the classroom'. I even, in an attempt to save money, went into the business of developing and printing my own cine films, often with disastrous results. I went through a period of hard, painful and expensive experimenting - an apprenticeship, that brought many disappointments. Reels of film were shot , ideas were developed and more often than not were scrapped and started again.

I learnt film making the hard way - by trial and error. found the whole subject so fascinating, despite the disappointments, and gradually I improved my techniques, although some of my ideas brought laughter to some of the professional film producers whom I met and had talked to.

 In my own 'film laboratory' ( a small space I had created between a bathroom and a bedroom) - I spent hours developing yards and yards of film. I remember after piling many yards of throw -outs into the dust bin in the back yard, that I heard the Corporation bin men say - when they came to empty the bins - " This must be where the film chap Hanna lives." and I found them examining the celluloid in the back street.

My Film Laboratory
The 'film chap' was becoming known even in the back streets of my own town!