Event Venue: Linwood Dunn Theater
Event time (screening): Noon-4:00
Event time (inspection): 11:00-4:00
Total Audience: 55
Number of people bringing films: 11
Films screened by Gauge:
Super 8: 6
Emcees: Charles Phoenix, Snowden Becker
Volunteers (19): Cassie Blake, Ed Carter, Yasmin Damshenas, Jovita Dominguez, Brian Drischell, Dino Everett, Joe Gallucci, Jere Guldin, Fritz Herzog, Trisha Lendo, Brian Meacham, Esther Nam, Charles Rogers, Sean Savage, Amanda Smith, Jessica Storm, Leah Wagner, Lance Watsky, Tim Wilson + 2 paid projectionists and a half dozen regular theater staff
Hollywood Home Movies III (third biennial Academy Film Archive screening)
Amateur Night (with special guest Dwight Swanson)
Press (pre-event and post-event): Not much better coverage last year, which may explain why it wasn’t news for many media producers. HMD-specific press release sent out by event organizers, “Home Movie Weekend” release sent by Academy press office. The usual flyers and postcards, though still not as widely disseminated as they should have been.
“That was fun, and very emotional for me. It will be so gratifying that when I donate these films, my family will live on and not just in my heart. Thank you again for giving them back to me for a while on a big screen.” — HMD-LA attendee Jeff Heise
This year we recruited a local celebrity host, author and mid-century/retro enthusiast Charles Phoenix, who is known for his found-image slideshows. He’s also an expert on southern California, and particularly knows his automobiles and amusement parks. He’s got a bit of a following, and we know his star-power brought in at least one person with films, and in fact started the day with.
8mm of Disneyland a month after it opened, when our first participant was 7 years old. All rides brand-spanking new, including the dodgy and short-lived Phantom Boats (replaced by the Submarine Voyage, now also a defunct feature of the park) and quaint-even-back-then Tomorrowland. Next, Long Beach: an amazing shot of Nash cars being lowered by crane onto a cargo ship. Mr. Phoenix demonstrated his value as emcee right out of the gate by rattling off an astonishing quantity of trivia about all of the ships, as well as their ports of registry, tonnage, and sundry other identifying features.
Later in the reel, the enterprising dad solves the problem of low-light conditions on Xmas morning by insisting that all the unwrapped gifts be arrayed in the driveway for the camera. Our participant was resplendent in her new Red Cross nurse costume, complete with navy-blue cape and little white hat, and noted that her blonde curls were the result of a recent perm she had been forced to undergo. A lineup of rather creepy dolls and a gender-stereotyping ‘little housewife’ cooking set comprised the bulk of her holiday gift haul. Her brother, who was a few years older, showed off an array of model planes, trains, and automobiles while wearing a new bomber jacket and captain’s hat; then, after a quick costume change into a velour bathrobe and a very jaunty red tasseled fez, demonstrated some new magic acts. A little trick-shot help from Dad’s camera was involved in the ‘disappearance’ of some small props, the little sister, and finally the magician himself, leaving only the robe and fez behind. A Disneyland toy monorail set in action got some oohs and aahs from our audience, especially co-host Charles Pheonix, who declared ‘Look at all those gifts! You kids were spoiled rotten!
Film collector and returning HMD-er Bill Jenkins brought more 16mm from anonymous families, starting with rare views of Busch Gardens in Pasadena, c. 1928.
Jeff Heise brought a 1600‚ reel of 16mm that began with shots of his family’s home in Cleveland, in the neighborhood and era where ‘A Christmas Story’ takes place. (Viewers were alert for evidence of triple-dog-daring in the background, but all visible telephone poles appeared to be unoccupied.) In a continuation of the Disneyania theme from earlier in the day, there is an amazing shot of a Donald Duck children’s bicycle and little girls wearing Donald Duck and Thumper Rabbit slippers. Later films show footage of Southern California including Long Beach, the Rose Bowl, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Los Feliz neighborhood, the Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park Zoo and Knott’s Berry Farm.
Academy staffer Ed Carter showed some Super 8 featuring the construction of LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Ed also introduced a home movie of sketchy provenance recently preserved by the Academy. The family’s name was Stanfield, and the 16mm reel includes material shot from the back of a car driving down Hollywood Boulevard c. 1930, where the street is excessively adorned with ads hyping the premiere of Hell’s Angels. The reel finishes with some amazing panaromic views of downtown taken from high up in the City Hall building tower. The bird’s-eye perspective drew more oohs and aahs, both for the city’s stunning density over 80 years ago, and for the many alterations in the urban landscape since then.
Fellow staffer and HMD-projectionist Fritz Herzog wowed us with yet another of his amateur epics, ‘Planet of the Monsters!’ (Super 8, c. 1968-9). The collaboration of multiple young Herzog family cousins on this project made for somewhat varied image quality, but all those hands behind the camera also meant that everyone got their own impressive death scene as the monsters achieved their inevitable victory over the invading humans. The production design was particularly lavish when it came to the spaceship technology, where construction-paper and magic-marker dials and displays abounded, and cardboard boxes with dials and knobs were clearly, if somewhat crookedly, labeled ‘COMPUTER.’
Academy oral historian Mae Woods brought a Super 8 reel she shot while working as Peter Bogdanovich’s assistant on What’s Up, Doc? (two years ago she shared her candid footage from the set of The Last Picture Show). We get a glimpse of Barbra Streisand’s (male) stunt double and a car crashing from the pier into the ocean.
Finally, HMD projectionist and collector of odd-gauges Dino Everett showed some South American ‘shipping scenes’ on 9.5mm, and Tarrytown, NY’s 1920 Independence Day parade on glorious 28mm. The final piece of the day was some rather odd VHS material - raw footage from an unfinished documentary project on wheelchair marathoners in Long Beach. While not strictly a home movie, the few minutes of this that we watched were quite useful as examples of visual and image-quality differences between film and video formats, and it also offered some glimpses of a truly extraordinary mullet hairdo - the best one to be seen all day.
Several attendees scored Home Movie Day Bingo prizes including movie passes, DVDs, and 8mm-to-video transfer gift certificates generously provided by Film Technology. The prize handouts were an opportune moment for us to observe the recent passing of FT staffer Alan Stark, who had attended every prior Los Angeles Home Movie Day, and was a staunch supporter of our small-gauge film preservation and educational outreach efforts. We feel sure he was there in spirit for yet another all-around satisfactory Home Movie Day.
Report submitted by Snowden Becker, Brian Drischell, Sean Savage