Great War film will put King’s Lynn on the map

Holly Meadows children work on the Bridge for Heroes film "The Great Story"
Holly Meadows children work on the Bridge for Heroes film "The Great Story"
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A multi-national international animation project is set to put King’s Lynn on the map.

The Great Story is a unique series of 12 stop-motion individual animations about the First World War that will make up a half-an-hour film focusing on various events and themes from the conflict.

Each animation is unique and is made by a different group of six individuals aged from six to 54.

These individuals have been selected from the organisations involved including Holly Meadows Primary School, King’s Lynn Air Cadets Force, Ventspils in Latvia, The Bridge for Heroes beneficiaries, King Edward Academy, Berlin British School in Germany, Whitefriars Primary Academy, Freebridge tenant group, Young Carers Trust, Help For Heroes Band of Brothers, Marham Junior School and The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG).

Each group spent a full day researching the particular event, then developed a storyline, and then using that story they had to hand draw all the elements seen in the animation.

Using special bespoke animating tables they created a stop motion animation containing over a thousand individual images.

To enhance the audience experience, a narrator will also provide a backing voice-over to accompany the visual stop motion. Among those providing narrations are General The Lord Dannatt, Group Captain Stewart Blackburn of Veterans Norfolk, borough mayor Colin Manning, Lorraine Kelly of ITV, Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick, the Bishop of King’s Lynn, Tony Hall of Freebridge Community Housing, Band of Brother of Help For Heroes and Group Captain Harv Smyth Station Commander RAF Marham.

The first idea of the project came back in November last year, and it was intended to be a small animation project that would involve local school and youth groups. Since then with the addition of another 36 organisations, funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s World War 1 programme, additional private funding and corporate funding, has now grown into something that will guarantee Lynn’s own entry into the international film market. The project is led by The Bridge for Heroes Charity in cooperation with a local production company Riarmato Productions.

The project bought together many different organisations including Veterans Norfolk, SSAFA, Prince’s Trust, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, Berlin British School, Church of England, Freebridge Community Housing, College of West Anglia, Help for Heroes, COBSEO, The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, West Norfolk Council, Norfolk County Council, King’s Lynn Archaeological Society, Norfolk County Council Library Services and many more.

The production crew from both The Bridge and Riarmato Productions worked with more than 70 young people, across three countries to produce the 12 animations and an additional behind the scenes feature containing interviews with participants, supporters, sponsors and clips from the production days and its own guide on how to create your very own stop motion animation.

Mike Taylor, founder of The Bridge for Heroes, said: “The Great Story is a brilliant project that has certainly brought together many national and local organisation to work together and create such a unique and important project. The production process and the opportunity for our beneficiaries and their families to get involved, has enhanced their daily lives and provided them with some interesting skills in both creating animations and engaging in historical research.”

The project will be launched locally in Lynn at a series of public screenings throughout September at the Majestic Cinema. There will also be an official premiere at Lynn Corn Exchange – despite offers to hold it at Leicester Square in London. The films are then going to be made into DVD education packs, and with the help of the Department of Education, are going to be distributed to most school throughout the UK, Germany and Latvia. Individual films will also be available to be viewed online on various social media sites.

Martins Strals, director of The Great Story and founder of Riarmato Productions, said: “The aim of the project has been to create a unique and universal education tool that shall record and preserve history for the future generations. The fact that the individual animations are made entirely by the participants, with the assistance from the production team, gives them a unique opportunity to not just passively learn but to actively engage and create a powerful educational tool for many others. Without the funding from Heritage Lottery Project and corporate sponsors we would not have been able to make the project, and allow it to expand and include all of the parties involved.”