The little-known and modest Builders makes most unusual, almost Brechtian use of 'ordinary people', thanks to Pat Jackson's clever exploitation of subjective camera. Jackson's film is a dialogue, alternately chummy and argumentative, between an off-screen narrator and the eponymous builders (no, these are not actors, and this is a real building site on which an ordnance factory was being constructed). The result is an experimental crossbreed between the Paul Rotha 'multi-voice' style and the direct-to-camera interview technique of Housing Problems (d. Arthur Elton/Edgar Anstey, 1935). Echoes are more likely to be found today in commercials or in classroom teaching aids than in self-styled documentaries (which are likely to fight shy of so non-naturalistic an approach).
The aim was to boost the low morale of the home front building workforce by proving that its efforts were as vital to the war as anyone's. By incorporating into the dialogue the builders' initial objections to the case put by the camera-voice, their final agreement is made more convincing. This is secured by the inclusion of library footage proving the direct effects of their work on the national effort. Also crucial is the metaphorical implication that society at large has to be ready to rebuild itself once the war is over, as something better than it was before.
*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Land of Promise: The British Documentary Movement 1930-1950'.