c. Post-Production

The first step in the post-production process was to transfer all of the material from Hi8 format to Pal-VHS. This meant first that I could view and review the material without risking tape damage; and second that I could use a domestic video player-recorder for this process. The transfer was a simple procedure, since the camera could be plugged directly into the back of the video player-recorder to achieve this. I then had to log all of the material and to make some initial decisions about selection before transcribing all of the footage which I might use during editing.

Next, I was ready to create the editing script. I felt that it was important to begin the technical process of editing with as clear a picture as possible of the final outcome, in order to be able to concentrate first on artistic decisions during the editing; and second on how to integrate the material, given that, as the principal function of the film was to present my research, artistic decisions did in some cases have to take second place to achieving the desired narrative. (In fact, I had begun the scripting process much earlier, when creating the shooting script, and I would recommend this strongly to other researchers.) It was also important to create an editing script before beginning the editing itself because I intended to edit the footage digitally, using the computer-based system Avid for the Apple Mac. Since storage space was necessarily limited, it made sense to pre-select material; this also made sense from a financial point of view, since the suite was expensive to hire.

When I began the post-production process, I was concerned about the final length of the film, since it seemed to me that fifteen minutes would have been ample for a student production, but that at least an hour would be needed to present the material, which would necessarily put a strain on the "reader's" attention span. This meant that I needed to take the pace of the film into account when structuring it.

I knew that I was telling two stories: the story of Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, told by her biographer, Helen McClelland; and the story of the fans and their centenary celebrations, told by the fans themselves and by picturing their events. I decided that I wanted to tell the story as far as possible in their own words, rather than putting my own construction on it. This seemed to me to be more in keeping with feminist research methodology, and also more in keeping with the open nature of hypermedia, where the "reader" has a greater opportunity of drawing their own conclusions. (This latter was, of course, the reason why I had used video to "show" the research as far as possible rather than simply "telling" the "reader" in the first place.) I therefore decided to limit the narration to brief introductions to scenes.

In order to use the internal structure of the footage which already existed, I decided to structure the material chronologically during the editing, both in terms of the story of Brent-Dyer's life and the story of the fans and their celebrations. I also decided to use the device of the "school picture" which had been taken by the fans as the image which began and ended the film. The fans themselves talked about feeling like "old girls of the Chalet School" (Austria 1), and I wanted to show the reality of the "school community" which had grown up around the fans' reading experiences of the fictional school. I therefore opened the film with the taking of the photograph, finishing the scene with the photograph itself (Opening Sequence), and closed the film by panning around the faces of the women in the photograph (End Sequence), many of which the "reader" would have come to know better during the duration of the film.

In order to integrate the two stories as much as was possible, I divided McClelland's contributions into four scenes. (Because I had made some initial decisions about the structure of the final film before shooting, I had already ensured that the content of each scene would be suitable for this purpose.) In order then for the "reader" to make sense of the narrative, McClelland needed to begin it. As the biographer, McClelland was also the Chalet School "expert" rather than me, and I wanted to make this quite clear to the "reader".

Using McClelland's footage at the beginning of the film, though, was problematic, in that there is very little action in the scene, so I was concerned about losing the "reader's" attention. However, I hoped that the footage of the taking of the "school picture" which opens the film would provide sufficient intrigue for the next few minutes. In addition, as McClelland's first scene begins by introducing Brent-Dyer's centenary and the popularity and longevity of the series (Elinor 1; Intro 1), I decided to illustrate this latter aspect by cutting the scene with footage of the book sale held as part of the centenary events, thus making it very clear that the women pictured valued the books enormously. This, I felt, would provide sufficient intrigue for the "reader" to continue.

Following this scene, I felt that it was logical to introduce the books themselves, since the "reader" of the film would naturally be asking more about the fiction which could provoke such passion. It then seemed logical to begin with the opening of the first book, The School at the Chalet (Intro 2), where the idea of the school is conceived by its fictional headmistress (I edited the extract for brevity). I decided to illustrate this scene with the artwork which had been used on the covers of the different editions of the book during the century. This would show the "reader" how the series' illustrators, and thus its readers, had imagined the world of the Chalet School. It would also show that the series had been reconceived using contemporary imagery by its publishers as the real world of school changed, rather than being presented to its readers as a set of historical texts.

Next, I felt that it was important to introduce the fan club, Friends of the Chalet School (FOCS), and its members. First, I felt that it was important to introduce girl members reading the books today, since the series is, after all, written for children, and at the time over 100,000 copies of the paperback editions were regularly being sold each year; the majority, presumably, to girls. I had recorded a series of disjointed comments from the girl fans and had no footage of them doing anything else but talking, so I transcribed these comments before creating a "conversation" about the books (FOCS 1). This begins with the girls talking about their first introduction to the series, which for most was reading The School at the Chalet from which the preceding scene had been taken. They then "talk" about their reading habits, showing their passionate love of the books, before "concluding" with a discussion about their favourite characters and the reasons for their choices.

Following this, I felt that it was logical to introduce the adult fans, and to stress that most of the club's members fell into this category. Fortunately I had been able to interview the Australian founder of the club, Ann Mackie-Hunter, when she had visited the UK, together with Gill Bilski, who had begun the club in the UK. This scene, FOCS 2, therefore tells the story of the founding of the club and why Mackie-Hunter had felt motivated to do this. It also stresses the international nature of the club and of the series. After this, I felt that it was logical to introduce the centenary celebrations and the reasons why Polly Goerres and Clarissa Cridland had felt motivated to organise them (FOCS 3).

After these introductions, I was able to continue the narrative by cutting between McClelland's story about Brent-Dyer and the story of the celebrations themselves. I decided to begin the story of the celebrations with the Hereford weekend in April 1994, since the events which had really begun the celebrations, at South Shields earlier the same month, had both been beset by technical problems in terms of my filming them, and duplicated events which took place at Hereford in terms of the content. Filming on the Friday night in Hereford had also been problematic, so I decided to begin with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque outside Brent-Dyer's former home and school in Hereford by Mayor Elect Kit Gundy (Hereford 1). This would show the fans en masse, thus stressing the popularity of the books as well as introducing the fans to the "reader"; the police shown controlling the traffic would stress the importance of the event; and Gundy's personality and appearance would underline its "Britishness".

Since Gundy had actually known Brent-Dyer, I followed this scene with an interview between Mackie-Hunter and Gundy, which I had recorded immediately after the plaque unveiling (Hereford 2). This is the first scene where Brent-Dyer is described by someone who had known her, since McClelland had only began her research after Brent-Dyer's death. As Mackie-Hunter rather than myself interviewed Gundy, the fans also had control of the process, which I felt was in keeping with the feminist and postmodern nature of my research methodology. Mackie-Hunter's thrilled reaction to hearing about Brent-Dyer also tells the "reader" more about the nature of Chalet School fandom.

In reality, fans had gone on from the plaque unveiling to view sites associated with Brent-Dyer in Hereford. However, I had chosen instead to go ahead to the sites which the fans were due to visit during the afternoon, which were associated with the fictional school during its years in England. Rather than showing the fans on the visit, I decided instead to use the interview which I had carried out before the fans arrived, with self-described "literary detectives" Beth and David Varcoe who had researched and published a commemorative guide to the sites. While the Varcoes tell the story of how and why they had carried out their research, the scene also introduces the "reader" to the fact that the fans were interested in these issues, and to snippets of information about the content of the books (Hereford 3). It is also, unintentionally, a humorous scene, and I felt that all of these elements were necessary to the pace of the film at this point if the "reader" was not to lose interest.

Keeping to the chronological order in which I had filmed (but omitting some of the footage on the grounds that it duplicated material in terms of content), I followed this with a scene about mother-daughter relationships with the series, using an interview with Jenny and Rachel Davis (Hereford 4). For lack of any alternative venue, I had carried out this interview in my hotel bedroom, although I hoped the impression would be given that it was the room in which the Davises themselves were staying. (In fact their home was close by, but this would have been too difficult to explain when showing a gathering of fans from all over the world.) I had been very limited by the setting during the filming, particularly as Jenny is disabled and did not wish to show parts of her body on camera. I had also made the technical error of leaving the camera on auto-focus: this meant that the focus "slipped" whenever either of the Davises moved slightly. Fortunately, however, alongside mother-daughter relationships with the series, the scene illustrates the fact that many of the fans regarded their fandom as a "guilty secret", and the confessional, video-sdiary style of the footage suited this perfectly.

Continuing to stick to the sequence in which I had filmed, the next scene shows footage of the team quiz which the fans had held on the Saturday evening, illustrating the fans' detailed knowledge of the books. However, I principally used the scene to begin to show deeper reasons for their fandom, using the interview with Folly co-editor Sue Sims as a voice-over (Hereford 5). I introduce Sims in terms of her editorship and her huge collection of the books, leaving the "reader" to believe what they wish about her as a result. In the interview itself, Sims then talks about the fact that she would have hated to go to a boarding school in reality; and analyses why the series still provides her with a fantasy of wish-fulfilment.

Following this I decided to show the dinner which followed the quiz (Hereford 6), concentrating on the after-dinner speech made to the fans by Luella Hamilton, a former pupil of Brent-Dyer's. Again, this provides the "reader" with a first-hand description of Brent-Dyer, this time from the perspective of her as a teacher. It also introduces Brent-Dyer's internationalism and opposition to fascism, and the intriguing (I hoped) fact that two of Haile Selassie's granddaughters had been pupils of Brent-Dyer's. As with the fandom, I wanted to begin to show the deeper aspects of Brent-Dyer's life, and to encourage the "reader" to begin to take the Chalet School phenomenon more seriously.

I ended the Hereford footage here (the events had actually continued the following day). At this point I felt that it was appropriate to introduce the "reader" to more facts about Brent-Dyer and the Chalet School series, and so I returned to McClelland (Elinor 2). Here McClelland tells the story of Brent-Dyer's trip to Austria which inspired the series, and how McClelland herself discovered the real sites disguised behind the fictional names which Brent-Dyer had given them.

Next it was logical to move on to the next centenary event, the trip to Austria in May 1994 organised, not by Friends of the Chalet School, but by Daphne Barfoot, editor of a smaller fanzine, The Chaletian. It seemed appropriate to begin with the story of how and why Barfoot founded The Chaletian, and why she had organised the fan visit to the Austrian sites. However, since I also wanted to show the visit itself, I decided to use the interview as a voice-over (Austria 1), accompanied by footage of the fans travelling, like the fictional schoolgirls, by lake steamer. Since Barfoot refers to the fans feeling "like being old girls of the Chalet School", I decided to cut from here into the second extract from the books themselves, at the point where another fictional journey was being recreated. I used the extract from The Princess of the Chalet School, again edited, to accompany footage of the fans travelling down the valley by steam train (Austria 2).

Continuing with this footage and footage of the river walk which followed, I cut from the extract to an interview with fan Anne Thompson, also used as a voice-over (Austria 3). This introduces the "reader" to another fan and to the reasons for her fandom; it also introduces the "reader" to the fact that Catholicism was represented in the books, and that this was regarded as being extremely unusual in reality. Since Thompson talks about Joey Bettany, the principal heroine in the series, as being an "eternal schoolgirl", I decided to cut from this comment to another extract from the series, also from The Princess of the Chalet School (Austria 4), used as a voice-over accompanied by continuing footage of the river walk. This provides the "reader" with yet more information about the content of the series, as well as re-stressing the importance which the fans laid on visiting the sites which had inspired fictional episodes.

From here, I felt that the "reader" would be ready to listen to a deeper analysis of the importance of the Chalet School phenomenon and why this had not previously been recognised, from Rosemary Auchmuty, the foremost academic expert on girls' school stories. However, I felt that the "reader's" attention would be easily distracted if this was simply accompanied by footage of Auchmuty talking, so decided to use the bulk of the interview as a voice-over, accompanied by footage of the fans walking at yet another site which had inspired episodes in the series (Austria 5). From this interview I decided to cut again to a relevant extract from the series, this time from Exploits of the Chalet Girls, used as a voice-over alongside continuing footage of the walk (Austria 6).

Following the Austrian scenes, I decided to continue with footage of the exhibition which had been organised by fans in Edinburgh from May-June 1994, since there was no relevant information about Brent-Dyer which needed to be imparted to the "reader" first. I began this sequence with an interview with Polly Goerres and Clarissa Cridland, explaining how and why they had curated the exhibition, before cutting to footage of the exhibition itself (Edinburgh 1) and continuing to use the interview as a voice-over. From here I moved to an interview with a fan, Lilian Smith, who had created one of the exhibits, a Chalet School tapestry (Edinburgh 2). I wanted to make several points in these two scenes: that the phenomenon was taken seriously enough by the outside world to have been given exhibition status; that the series had inspired many fans to create associated arts and crafts work; and that Brent-Dyer's publishers, Chambers, were based in Edinburgh. I completed the sequence with footage showing a fan meeting at Edinburgh, including an interview with the group's organiser, Fen Crosbie (Edinburgh 3). At this point I wanted to show the "reader" more about fandom outside of the centenary events, as well as challenging some popular misconceptions about the nature of fandom.

At this point it seemed logical to return to McClelland's story about Brent-Dyer and her Chalet School series, particularly since the change in pace should now be welcome to the "reader". (The fan footage was actually quite "fast", partly due to the fans' obvious enthusiasm; and partly due to the fact that the organisers had to set a very fast pace in order to keep to their schedule.) In this scene McClelland explains how Brent-Dyer had moved her fictional school following the outbreak of the Second World War, first to Guernsey and then to England; how she had tackled the growing-up of her heroine, Joey Bettany; and about her other connections with Guernsey, both real and fictional (Elinor 3).

From here it was logical to move on again to the next of the fan events, a weekend in Guernsey in September 1994. I decided against using the bulk of the footage which I had obtained, first because the content duplicated points which had already been made; and second because the poor weather conditions had meant that much of the technical quality was poor. I therefore began the sequence with a scene introducing the fan visit, using footage of the visit itself accompanied by a voice-over from Polly Goerres and Clarissa Cridland (Guernsey 1). I then continued with the footage, accompanied by a voice-over from an interview with Mo Everett, a fan who had organised the weekend locally. Since I had footage of Everett introducing the fans to various Guernsey sites, I hoped that this would clearly identify the speaker. Everett explains her own passion for the books; how she had identified the local sites which had inspired fictional episodes; and how she felt about belonging to the fan network (Guernsey 2). The scene also stresses again the importance which the fans assigned to visiting the sites.

I had now reached the final sequence of the film. I began by returning to McClelland's story of Brent-Dyer's life, from the lack of success and closure of her school; to her increased output as a writer; and finally to her death in 1969 (Final Years 1, Elinor 4). I followed this by cutting to the final event which had been organised by the fans, a memorial service held on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Brent-Dyer's death on 20 September 1994. I began with footage of the fans gathering outside the church, including Clarissa Cridland speaking about Guernsey, before using a voice-over by Cridland explaining the background to the service (Final Years 2). At this point, I also wanted to introduce the "reader" to the fact that Brent-Dyer, despite her fame, had been buried without a headstone, and that the fans had decided to rectify this by buying and placing a stone themselves.

I then used footage of the fans processing into the church, before concluding the scene with an extract from a speech to the congregation by Brent-Dyer's heir, the actress Chloe Rutherford. This personal reminiscence returns the "reader" to Brent-Dyer in her personal life, and includes a vivid description of her appearance and personality. From here I cut to footage of the headstone itself, accompanied by a voice-over from Polly Goerres (Final Years 3), whom I reasoned should now be familiar enough to the "reader" to need no introduction. The final shot in the scene shows a close-up of the card which accompanied the flowers that the fans had put on the grave; both this and the voice-over emphasises the fans' enduring love and respect for Brent-Dyer as an author.

I began the end sequence of the film by returning to the "school picture" which had been taken at the Hereford weekend, panning slowly around the faces of the fans while the credits appeared over them, and resting on my face in the front row to emphasise my closeness to the fans. This shot I had had made professionally by a rostrum camera company, and was actually the one with which I had the greatest difficulty. First, the company did not produce footage of the correct length. On the second attempt, they carefully excluded one of the fans, Helen Aveling, a wheelchair user, from the photograph, when I specifically wanted, first, to include all of the women in the photograph, and second, to make the disabled fans as visible as possible to emphasise the integrated nature of the club. Finally I solved this by going to the studio and standing over the operator while the shot was made; this did not endear me to the company, but it is a course which I would certainly recommend to others (particularly women, since the all-male nature of the company may well have had something to do with my experiences).

Over this shot I used four extracts from interviews with fans, none of whom had appeared in the film before. These speak progressively of the reasons why fans love the books, from their "happy endings" to an entire philosophy of life; the diversity also stresses that fans have different reasons for their passion. I then concluded the film by cutting to a photograph of Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, accompanied by her name and dates of birth and death; this stresses the anniversary element of the film. I accompanied this shot with a voice-overed quote from the Chalet School series, one of several spoken by the main heroine Joey about "always being a Chalet School girl". This I felt summed up the essence of the fandom, and its importance. From here I faded to black.

When I had created the editing script from the transcripts of the footage, I was ready to begin the "off-line" edit. First I had to transfer the footage again, this time from Hi8 to the broadcast standard tape Beta SP, to create the "rushes" tapes from which I would work. There were two reasons for this: first, Hi8 is inherently unstable; and second, my camera was not capable of time-coding the shots - a process which assigns an individual code to each frame of video - so this needed to be added to the footage before editing. However, I was also able to adjust the image and sound quality during the transfer, leaving less to be done at the final editing stage.

This transfer process was carried out under the auspices of VeT (Video Engineering Training), where I had previously taken a three-day course in using the editing system, Avid. Unfortunately, however, the process was fundamentally flawed, partly due to my lack of experience. What I should have done - and what I recommend to others - was first to have transferred much more footage than I required, and second to have divided the process into two stages, adding the time code last by "striping it in". In fact, due to my misplaced desire to save tape stock (the stock turned out to represent only a tiny portion of my expenditure), I only transferred exactly those sections of footage which I wished to use in the final film, adding the time code at the same time.

My mistake became apparent when I came to the next stage, digitising the footage on to the computer-based editing system, Avid. Due to the method of time-coding which I had used, the time code was broken between each section of the footage. However, the computer did not read the actual time code of the footage when digitising it. Instead, it relied on the Beta SP player to identify the time code at the beginning of each tape, and then assumed that all of the code from then on was continuous and added its own code to the data files accordingly. Every time there was a break in the tape, therefore, the time code on the files went out of synch with the time code on the tapes. Since no-one in the building had previously understood how the digitisation process worked, it was some days before I realised that this was happening, and then only because I had chosen to digitise the footage with the time code showing over each frame (a course which I would recommend to anyone editing digitally). I then had to redigitise the material, stopping the process manually between each piece of footage.

Following the successful digitisation, I had to organise the footage by naming each "clip", and then by breaking it down into named sub-clips of individual shots. These could then be viewed by their first or last frame, and/or by their names. As I had already produced an editing script this was a fairly simple process; this was fortunate, since good organisation of the material was crucial to the continued success of the edit.

After this, I could begin the editing process. Needless to say, the final script as it appears here has changed since the editing script, principally by being shorter in order to keep the length of the final film down to around sixty minutes. Aside from this, though, the principal difficulty which I found was in lack of material which could be used for editing purposes: "cutaways" of details etc. This is often a problem for novice film-makers, but had been compounded in my case by being disabled, since both my physical energy and my ability to move the camera around in the crowds of fans was limited. (Two people with different physical abilities would really have been required to capture the best possible footage of the events, which is why I initially sought outside funding.) I also had problems with editing the sound track as a result of difficulties (largely arising from inexperience) during the recording. In addition to problems with poor sound quality, I had also omitted to record a "buzz track" of background sound at every location; this meant that I had few "natural silences" to use in the edit.

However, despite these difficulties I successfully completed the "off-line" edit, and I was then ready to move on to the "on-line" stage. Here the gender politics of the film and television industries became a problem, alongside my lack of experience. VeT were extremely helpful in advising on the process, but despite it being an organisation controlled by women, the workers did not know of any on-line studios which were run by women and which would therefore be sympathetic to the project (my finances necessarily being limited, along with my confidence). In addition, while I wanted to carry out the final edit digitally using an on-line Avid system, which I felt was most appropriate to the research as a whole, few studios then possessed them and so the price was out of my reach. I therefore settled for a tape-based studio, which offered me a "cheap" deal for a basic job.

During the tape-based on-line edit, a master tape is first produced from the rushes tapes using an "autoconform" process. This process is controlled by a computer, using a file of information or Edit Decision List (EDL) from the off-line edit which lists the time codes and order of the selected footage. Following this, an editor creates a second tape, adjusting the image quality as the picture is transferred and adding captions. Since the autoconform process took place overnight, I did not arrive at the studio until the edit itself began. Here I discovered that the autoconform process had taken considerably longer than the studio had estimated, and that I had less time for the edit as a result.

When the edit began, though, I noticed several points where the time code was incorrect. At this point I was told that the errors were due to the way in which the material had originally been digitised, since, unknown to most off-line editors at that time, digital editing was known to involve time-code inconsistencies. My previous experiences, however, meant I knew perfectly well that no such inconsistencies existed, and I continued to complain. But no notice was taken of me - the only other woman in the building appeared only to make the coffee and to answer the phone - and the errors were left. I then moved on to the "sound dub" at the same studio, where the levels in the sound track are harmonised and the quality is improved as much as possible. Due to the previous delays, this process was left unfinished, so I left the tapes with the studio. As I left, the autoconform editor came in, smelling heavily of drink, and blamed the company's equipment for the problems which I had had.

The following morning I complained by fax to the studio, asking that the errors be corrected and the dub finished at their expense. Two days later, I was due to show the film at the first Chalet School conference, and I had no more credit available to me. Their response was to refuse, and also to refuse me access to my tapes unless I paid cash in full for them that morning. I had no choice, and although the union Bectu pursued the studio on my behalf for many months, they were unable to obtain a refund. I then needed to find a studio which could finish the dub at least at short notice, and was lucky enough to find a sound studio, Wild Tracks, which would carry out the work the next day. Whilst also controlled by men, here I was treated with nothing but respect, and later I was provided with free access to the studio for a day to complete the work to a higher standard.

Following this experience, I decided to try to carry out a second on-line edit myself, using Avid. Unlike a tape-based on-line edit, this would be a very similar experience to using the off-line equipment, with the major difference being the quality of the picture. I had no more credit available to me, but in September 1995 I was granted free access to Avid's own studio to attempt the edit. Unsurprisingly, though, there were problems: I had not used the system for ten months; had never carried out an on-line edit before; and in addition the equipment was not working properly, which only became apparent when I had to finish the process. As a result, the footage was unusable, and it was only in September 1996 that I was able to obtain access once more to complete the edit successfully, with technical support from one of Avid's own editors. In fact, when I had learnt how to use the equipment and understood the concepts, I found the process itself surprisingly easy. I knew better than anyone else when the picture had reached optimum quality, and had no difficulty using the captioning programme because of my previous work in desktop publishing. I did, however, find the digitisation process slow because I had not transferred enough material on to the original rushes tapes, and so the computer found it difficult on occasions to identify the starting point of my footage.

The final work which I carried out on the film was to replace some of the narration. Originally, due to the tight time-scale to which I was working, I had recorded all of this myself. Obviously my inexperience was apparent, but I felt that it was important that I should introduce the film, since overall I was the author and I wanted to make this explicit to the "reader". However, on repeated viewing of the film, I felt that a separate voice should be reading the extracts from the books, since this was the voice of Brent-Dyer herself. I was fortunate in persuading the actress Kate O'Mara, whose mother, as a child actress, was a friend and inspiration to Brent-Dyer, to re-record the extracts. This process was in itself problematic, since O'Mara's schedule meant that this eventually had to take place in her dressing room when she was appearing in pantomime, in January 1997. However, I felt that she was a highly appropriate choice, and was extremely grateful for her cooperation.

Due to the post-production process being so lengthy - 26 months - I was able to obtain feedback on the film before it was finished, which meant that I could take this into account if necessary during the final edit. In fact, the only changes which I made were to the narration and captioning, but I still feel that it was important to allow fans the opportunity of commenting on and influencing the final work and to ask for professional feedback as well, and I would recommend this course to other researchers.

I first presented the working copy of the film to fans at the conference organised by Bettany Press on 3 December 1994, projecting it from a VHS player. At the beginning I introduced the film in the context of my research, making it clear how it would eventually be used. At the end, I then explained a little about the editing process, and what effect this had had on the images of the fans and their events which are presented in the film.


Fortunately, the response of the fans was overwhelmingly positive. Following this screening, I offered to make professionally duplicated VHS copies of the film available to them, and more than two hundred women eventually asked for these, despite the fact that I had to charge them £17 each to cover my costs (I also gave copies to the FOCS library, so that everyone with access to a video player could gain access to the film irrespective of income). Somewhat to my surprise, the majority of these women wrote back to me with their impressions of the film. From these letters, it was clear that there were several different reasons for their enjoyment.

For some, the film provided them with a record of the centenary events:


For others, the film provided them with a substitute for attending the events:


For some of these women, the opportunity to see the fans and events through my eyes was welcome because their own impairments prevented them from ever participating in similar events.


For some other women, it was geographical location which meant that they were unable to attend events and to meet other fans.


For the majority of fans, it was the representation of themselves and of the sites which gave the most pleasure, but a minority of fans referred instead to McClelland's scenes about Brent-Dyer herself.


A detailed discussion of fandom can found in The Fans of Girls' School Stories.

In order to get feedback from other academics, I put forward the working copy of the film to the 1995 Women's Studies Network conference, where it was screened repeatedly in a room set aside for videos. However, lack of disabled access meant that in the event I was unable to attend myself, so feedback was very limited.

I also sent a working copy of the film to Roland Keating, Editor of BBC2's Bookmark series, who had originally turned down my programme proposal since: "popular as [Brent-Dyer's] stories are, I don't really feel there is enough in them to sustain a full-length documentary." After viewing the film, he wrote back to me that, in his opinion, the film was: "A remarkable illustration of what the latest technology makes possible, and an enjoyably informative documentary in its own right." The Chalet School phenomenon had proved to be much bigger than either of us had expected.

Next: II : d. Script
Return to: Making The Chalet School Revisited Index
Return to: Researching & Creating Virtual Worlds of Girls Index
Return to: Virtual Worlds of Girls Index

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