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HMD Report: Burlington, Vermont 2008

HMD Report: Burlington, Vermont

Gemma’s report from HMD Burlington:

Event Venue: Burlington College

Event time (inspection): 9am ? 2pm

Event time (screening): 11am ? 3pm

Total Audience: 11

Number of people who brought films: 6

Films screened by Gauge: 8mm: 17, Super ? 8:0, 16mm: 0, 9.5mm: 0, Video: 0

Volunteers (8): Gemma Perretta, Barry Snyder, Tom Terracino, Jared Agnello, Corey Lovell, Jonah Grumbine, Mark Rosen, Sarah Stan

Special Events/screenings: The Burlington HMD was the central event in a 3-day workshop at Burlington College this year. The first and third days focused on the history of amateur film and technology and an introduction to the work of film archives.

Press (pre-event and post event): postcards and flyers were distributed throughout
Burlington, e-mailings to the Burlington College Community, listing in the Burlington Free Press events section and local historical societies were notified.

This year we did a three day workshop surrounding Home Movie Day at Burlington
College. 6 Students participated, two of whom brought films to show.

The first day of the workshop, Friday (10/17), students learned about the history of amateur cinema which included screenings of a variety of material drawn from “Treasures From the American Film Archives,” Kino’s “The Movies Begin,” “Scenes from Home Movie Day,” and more. The students particularly responded to “America’s Funniest Home Videos Greatest Hits.” One student noted that it would have been more entertaining if “From Stump To Ship” had been edited down to show more clips of the log drivers falling off the logs into the water the way “America’s Funniest Home Videos” is edited; an insight we all found humorous. The class was mostly comprised of film production students, and the cultural value of home movies and understanding how they are used as well as the aesthetics of amateur cinema in contemporary filmmaking was well received.

Day two of the workshop was Home Movie Day. We had a smaller turnout from the public this year, but an equally enthusiastic screening and some interesting film samples.

The first person to bring film in was a man named Rene (pernounced “Rainy”) Gusson from Winooski, Vermont. Rene was hoping to screen an anniversary film he thought he’d brought in along with a small bag of other 8mm and Super-8mm films. It turned out that the first two reels we inspected, the 8mm films, were not home movies but commercially produced stag films from the 1960s. Rene did not have any information about where they came from, and we moved on to look through the Super-8 films. Unfortunately the anniversary film he was looking for was not in the bag that he brought in, so he went back home to look for it some more. The students were very excited about the stag films, but it was decided not to show them. Rene did come back later with the anniversary film, but we were having problems with the Super-8 projector. It was decided not to show the film at HMD, but it will be transferred to DVD at Northeast Historic Film for Rene to see, and the College will look into new Super-8 projection equipment for next year.

The second person to bring film in was named Rosalind (Ros) Young. Ros brought in a number of 16mm reels that her father filmed in her native state of Mississippi. Ros’ father recently passed away and she had brought the films from Mississippi back to Vermont but hadn’t had a chance to look at them yet. She brought in a 35mm can that was completely rusted shut, and a number of smaller reels. The smaller reels all appeared to have some bad water damage, fading and the splices were falling apart and so were deemed un-projectable without further inspection. We took the rusted 35mm can outside and cracked it open only to find two hockey-pucking 16mm reels, clearly in an advanced state of decomposition. Sadly, those two reels were a short film Ros’ father had written and produced starring some local friends. She still has the script, which includes the cast of actors, but she believes that was the only copy of the film that existed. Although the films were deemed un-projectable it was interesting for everyone to see and Ros was grateful to have been able to have a place to bring her films for council. Ros requested the smaller reels be brought back to Northeast Historic Film for conservation and transfer.

The third person to bring film in was gentleman named Paul, an adult student at
Burlington College (in his 70s!). Paul brought in Super-8 reels he shot of his children. Although his films were in good condition he was concerned about showing any of the films since he didn’t know the content and didn’t want to offend his sweetheart (his wife). He was pleased to hear his films were in good condition, though, and happy to get some information about how to store them and where to get them transferred.

The fourth person to bring film in was Sylvia O’Neil. Sylvia brought in nine 50’ reels she shot mostly of ski trips and a Disneyland vacation in the 1960s. We projected all of Sylvia’s films during which we received a lively commentary in which she remembered all the places and people in the films.

We also screened Jonah Grumbine’s family’s 8mm films on his own projector, which he had brought in. Most notable of the Grumbine’s films was a wedding film shot at Jonah’s parent’s wedding that had never been viewed since it was shot. Lastly we screened a short 8mm home movie reel Cory Lovell brought in which was shot when he was very young on a family trip.

The third day of the workshop, Sunday (10/19), we screened “Images of an Assassination: A New Look at the Zapruder Film” and wrapped up with the workshop reviews. Two of the students are working on documentary films and were particularly interested in learning about how to access and use stock footage. Other students expressed interest in the content in home movies for entertainment value.