Monday, October 18, 2010

Home Movie Day

"Saving our film heritage should not be limited only to commercially produced films. Home movies do not just capture the important private moments of our family's lives, but they are historical and cultural documents as well. Consider Abraham Zapruder's 8mm film that recorded the assassination of President Kennedy or Nickolas Muray's famously vibrant color footage of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera shot with his 16mm camera. Imagine how different our view of history would be without these precious films. Home Movie Day is a celebration of these films and the people who shot them. I urge anyone with an interest in learning more about how to care for and preserve their own personal memories to join in the festivities being offered in their community..."
Martin Scorsese

Home Movie Day almost didn't happen in New York this year, but the archiving community came together and donated their time and resources. At the last minute some former MIAP students organized an event in Brooklyn and my classmate, Erik, organized one in the Hamptons. Swinny, Candace and I went out to Southampton with Erik and his girlfriend Friday night to spend the night at his family's lovely cabin. We woke up early Saturday morning to head out to the venue, a beautifully restored historic barn, and set up for a day of inspecting and projecting 8mm, Super 8mm and 16mm home movies.

We had to beg and borrow (no stealing as far as I know) for all the equipment we had, but ended up with a pretty legit setup of portable rewinds, a portable light box, tape splicer, split reels, leader and other odds and ends necessary for inspecting film. Erik set up a table of old film boxes, cameras, literature and other stuff to look at, and the barn came with chairs and a stable perfect for setting up our screen. 
We began prepping the 16mm films Erik brought with him as soon as we arrived, while he set up and manned the projector. I had to be clever with a flashlight and a loupe in order to inspect the film and it made me feel a little like the MacGyver of film handling. 
Yes, there's a whaling room behind that film reel I wound. Among the sweet finds of the day were a home movie from 1939 that included footage of the '39 Worlds Fair, an early '60s film of a hovercraft landing on the beach and other beautiful amateur family and travel films. So cool. I highly recommend checking out a Home Movie Day in your area next year. Take your grandparents' films if they have them!
The day was super chilly and the grounds were so beautiful, we were forced to take little breaks to explore (check out those big pots for boiling down whale blubber on whaling boats), climb trees and get in trouble.
When the event was over we had a little lunch, browsed a yard sale and headed to the beach for a little taste of the Hamptons life. (That third picture would be me strutting away victoriously after chasing seagulls.)
We had one last hurrah in Erik's backyard right before we left that involved some 35mm nitrate film and my penchant for destruction. Video soon.