Oakham film-maker's new business reuniting Rutland families with long lost memories

  Posted: 25.06.20 at 12:09 by The Editor

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A film-maker who relocated to Oakham to be closer to his family has set up a business helping families preserve their special video memories for the digital age.

Tony Lane launched Rutland Memories to convert old video footage into modern digital formats and storage options - a skill he acquired when making a documentary of the rock band Wheatus, of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ fame.

Tony told Oakham Nub News: “A few years ago a friend and I were in New York working on our band documentary with Wheatus.

"We had been given 20 to 30 old tapes from the band’s family to get digitised, so you could say that’s when I first thought what a cool idea this could be.

"More recently, I was working as a freelance film-maker, but by the end of February it had completely dried up - Covid-19 already had a knock-on effect up and down the country.

"Luckily, at this point I had been given a temporary premises assistant role at an Oakham primary school, then just before full lockdown I thought it was a good time to set about launching Rutland Memories to reunite the local community of Rutland with their long lost memories.

“I figured that there could potentially be a few people like myself who had grown up with various formats of video and, in most cases, they might be without a way to play them.”

Rutland Memories can digitise most old media including SVHS, VHS, VHS-C, Video8, Hi8, Digital8 and Mini DV.

The business has been offering a free pick-up and drop off service to the local community during lockdown - sometimes even helping those in isolation with shopping.

“The demand so far has been quite high, possibly due to a lot of people still being at home and having a chance to look in their lofts or go through their garages and cupboards.

“Over the last few weeks of doing this I’ve had the pleasure of seeing people cry tears of happiness to see long-lost loved ones again - from a mum in her younger years jumping out of a plane to kids opening their Christmas presents who are now in their 20s.

“It’s a very surreal thing, you’re digitising the past, but delivering them to the present and knowing at this time of crisis that we can offer a service that will put smiles back on faces, that will give people a little bit of hope, really is a wonderful thing.”

Tony, a dad-of-two, relocated to Oakham with his wife Katie after his father had a heart attack.

Struggling with a six-hour drive through a storm to be at his dad’s bedside in Hull, he decided he needed to move closer and chose Oakham – halfway between Hull and primary school teacher Katie’s family in Basingstoke.

Tony explained: “My dad’s heart attack was the most devastating news I could ever get.

"The only thought that went through my head when I saw him was that I had to move closer. I need to be there for him more."

Ironically, coronavirus has kept Tony away from his father for more than four months, but this weekend that will change as the family re-unites, creating new memories which Tony says are essential to maintain mental wellbeing.

As someone who has suffered with mental health issues, he said: “I think it’s important to speak up about mental health at any given opportunity.

"I have struggled in the past and without the love of my family, friends and loved ones, I may not be here now.

“We are called ‘Rutland Memories’ and we need to emphasise how important every life is, to carry on making memories, for us all to reach out to anyone who is struggling.

“I’ve been there too many times, so I know how the darkness can pull you in, how lost and alone you can feel, how desperate for the pain to end.

"But life is about overcoming struggles and creating new relationships with ever-lasting special memories."

Rutland photographer Barney Staniland has been out and about capturing some great images of Oakham’s local businesses as they gradually re-open foll...