A student documentary about the Shields Ferry on the River Tyne and its engine man. Made by founder members Murray Martin and Graham Denman, it is recognised as the first Amber work.
A gentle, reflective film about a gentle, reflective man, and a river crossing as brief but evocative as the film itself. The Northumbria Ferry crossed the River Tyne between North Shields and South Shields carrying workers, shoppers and kids, and in the evening the same again dressed up to sample the night life on the other side. The river crossing, though only ten minutes long, was an event, set against the busy river and its strong industrial landscape. The film uses the song Sair Fyeld Hinny, performed by the great Tyneside traditional singer Louis Killen. An old man’s song to his wife, it means sore failed, so broken or brought down. BBC North East refused to broadcast the film unless this dialect song was removed, so Amber’s broadcast breakthrough didn’t come until the 1980s. When Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen opened a portrait studio in an empty shop, as she developed Byker, she called it Sair Fyeld Hinny.
Amber Films, 10 mins, 1969