Who cares about your movies?
[Pelican Rapids, MN], ca. 1930’s – Arthur Higgins Collection
Naturally, films may hold intense and private meanings to the people who shot them, and to those who appear in them. As the materials are passed along to successive family members or friends, they can retain an almost magical power to bring absent loved ones back into the room. And it’s not just the people in the movies, of course — rooms and yards, toys and clothing, cars and pets, a whole world of the small details that make up a life are captured there to spur memory and invite reflection. The filmmaker’s immediate and extended circles of family and friends may value your movies.
But home movies typically capture a great deal of community life as well. Overtly public events such as groundbreaking ceremonies, holiday parades, sporting events, and social rallies bear obvious interest for local historians. But it’s often the background details that around the greatest interest in these movies: the bygone assortment of small local businesses, the canopy of trees that used to line residential streets, the outskirts of town before it tripled in size. Local historical societies and regional archives may value your movies.
Even beyond the sphere of local historians interested in particular times and places, a myriad of researchers in the broadest range of fields such as sociology, urban planning, costume design, architecture, public health, human behavior, and ethnic histories, as well as amateur enthusiasts of every subject from railroad trains to hat styles may find evidence and details of interest in home movies shot for entirely different purposes. Everyone participates to some degree in a communal milieu of behavior in shared spaces – our clothing, our leisure pastimes, our manner of participating in traditional rituals or even our notable absence from certain community settings are significant. And some people simply love the “look and feel” of amateur movies for their own sake. Researchers and cultural enthusiasts may value your movies.
Finally, it should be noted that home movie footage is often particularly sought after not merely for study, but for use in producing new media such as documentaries, commercial advertisements, or feature films. While it may be unlikely that any single home movie would be useful in this way, it is also true that footage capturing a unique view of a significant event or public personage, or footage that captures a certain activity or milieu with particular clarity or evocative power may have a further life in a new media production. Stock footage scouts and documentarians may value your movies.