We invite you to put our ‘Files on film’.

Following last year’s highly successful competition, we have selected ten more documents from our collection which we hope will inspire you to make a short film.

This year, the theme is the First World War as part of our centenary programme. We have selected ten diverse documents from the period, reflecting different experiences of war time.

Please note: this competition closed on 7 January 2015. Winners will be notified by email and announced here by 13 February 2015.

What is it all about?

We want you to read some or all of the documents we have selected and let one of them inspire you to make a short film (no longer than three minutes). You can choose any aspect of what you see - a character, a line, or the whole document, to create a film of your choice.

Anyone can enter, using any type of film equipment from mobile phones to studio cameras.

Documents to choose from


Winning films will be awarded:

  • £500 for 1st prize
  • £200 for 2nd prize
  • £100 for 3rd prize

The winning film will also be shown on our website.

How do I enter?

Have a look at the selection of documents provided.

Make a film based on one, or a selection of the documents. It must be no more than three minutes long, including any titles or credits.

Make sure you include the reference of the document(s) you have chosen at the beginning of the film.

Upload your film to YouTube and complete the entry form with the live URL. Send the completed entry form to filesonfilm@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk.

Although those filling in the entry form must be over 18 to comply with YouTube rules, anyone is welcome to take part in making a film. If your film is shortlisted, we will require consent forms to be signed for everyone involved. Please see our frequently asked questions below for more information.

'Files on Film' entry form and terms and conditions (PDF, 300Kb)

Read the key points to remember and our frequently asked questions (PDF, 155Kb)

Please note, the language used and the events depicted in these documents are representative of the time they were created. They may use terms that would not be used today. However, our role is to preserve the integrity of the historic public record, which is why they have been presented as originally captured. We ask that you bear this in mind when dealing with sensitive issues.

Judges' biographies

Chris Croucher is an award winning filmmaker with nearly ten years of on set experience within the film and TV business. He is currently producing season five of ‘Downton Abbey’ for Carnival Films & TV. His most recent short ‘Friend Request Pending’ (writer/producer) toured the globe. The film premiered at the 2012 BFI London Film Festival and stars Judi Dench, Penny Ryder and Tom Hiddleston.

Jeff James is Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives. Jeff has overall responsibility for The National Archives' future direction as well as current performance, and is accountable to ministers for both. His role is to lead in all The National Archives' many different activities, in our work with government and in providing services to the public. Jeff is Keeper of Public Records and Historic Manuscripts Commissioner.

Ian Hay-Campbellis Chairman of The Friends of the National Archives. Originally from New Zealand, he has a keen interest in 19th and 20th century British and Commonwealth history. Before he retired in 2005, Ian was a broadcaster with the BBC World Service and then joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as a career diplomat. Since his retirement he has researched his family's history, using the resources at The National Archives.

Further judges to be confirmed...

Last year's winning entries

1st place
Angus Campbell Golding: ‘A West Indian in England’

CO 875/59/1: Ministry of Information leaflet (PDF, 36.95Mb)
A draft copy of 'A West Indian in England' by H D Carberry and Dudley Thompson, 1949-1951.

The judges unanimously agreed that this film achieved the perfect combination of humour, emotion and drama in bringing the document to life. They felt the story was told beautifully and elements would resonate with the experiences of both those arriving in England for the first time and those who had lived here all their lives.

2nd place
Eglantine Pillet: ‘No Vote, No Census’

RG 14/2277 f.362 and RG 14/227 f.4: 1911 census returns (PDF, 1.24Mb) Two 1911 census returns showing responses from suffragettes.

The judges were extremely impressed with the ability of this film to make such an important issue accessible and engaging in such a short period of time. They felt the humorous interpretation brought the documents to life in a new and exciting way by imagining the characters involved.

See all of last year's short-listed films here.

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