The study of home movies and amateur film is relatively new. It is only within the past 15 years that academic curiosity has explored the sociological, historical, cultural, and archaeological richness that can be found in these films. Below are a few links to help you get a better understanding on how the importance of home movies have enriched the field of motion picture studies. Please contact us with suggestions for material to include in this list.
Amateur Cinema Studies Network
The Amateur Cinema Studies Network (ACSN) is the first international initiative that brings together scholars and visual artists concerned with the study and production of amateur cinema. This bibliography is a great resource for the amateur film scholar.
Media History Digital Library
The Media History Digital Library is a non-profit initiative dedicated to digitizing collections of classic media periodicals that belong in the public domain for full public access. In particular for amateur and home movies enthusiasts is the amateur filmmaker periodical Movie Makers. On this site you can find the scanned periodicals from 1926-1953.
The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, they provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public. There is a portion of the site dedicated to Home Movies from the collection of The Center for Home Movies and other home movie contributors.
- Selected Bibliography
Reel Families: A Social History of Amateur Film (Arts and Politics of the Everyday)
by Patricia R. Zimmermann, 1995
From Amazon.com: “Reel Families is the first historical study of amateur film, the most pervasive of media. Patricia Zimmerman charts the history of this medium from 1897 to the present, examining how ideological, technical, and social constraints have stunted amateur film’s potential for extending media production beyond corporate monopolies and into the hands of everyday people. She draws on an array of sources?camera manufacturers, patents, early film and photography technology journals, amateur filmmaking magazines, professional magazines, and family-oriented popular magazines?to investigate how the concept of amateur film was transformed within evolving contexts of technology, aesthetics, social relations, and politics.”
Home Movies: A History of the American Industry, 1897 – 1979
by Alan D. Katelle, 2000
From Library Journal: “In this unique book, which delves into the origins of cinematography, Kattelle writes about film’s earliest inventions, such as the magic lantern, camera obscura, and mutoscopes, and explains in detail how they worked and who their inventors were. The competitiveness of Path , the Lumi re brothers, Daguerre, Edison, Eastman, and other contributors to the evolution of motion pictures is fascinating. The book features chapters on amateur equipment, organizations, and collecting, and two sections are devoted to the rise of the Eastman Kodak Company. Amateur films are discussed at length, including the famous Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination. Numerous illustrations and photographs enhance the text, while extensive appendixes cover amateur films, equipment charts, manufacturers, and much more. Readers who are unfamiliar with the subject will gain a wealth of knowledge.”
Mining the Home Movie
by Karen I. Ishizuka (Editor), Patricia R. Zimmermann, 2007
“By claiming home movies as essential tools of historiography, Ishizuka and Zimmerman manage to break down artificial barriers between public histories and private records. In this groundbreaking volume, their selection of visionary essays offers a way to reclaim devalued work and turn the tables on the cataloguers. Absolutely required reading for historians, curators and media analysts.”—B. Ruby Rich, author of Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement
Amateur Filmmaking. The Home Movie, the Archive, the Web.
Editor(s): Laura Rascaroli, Gwenda Young, Barry Monahan, Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.
“Hats off to Laura Rascaroli, Gwenda Young, and Barry Monahan for assembling fascinating highlights from their ground-breaking 2010 conference on amateur film, Saving Private Reels. Amateur Film: The Home Movie, the Archive, the Web features 23 essays that explore the diversity of the ‘home movie’ which span nations, genres, eras, aesthetics, and critical frames. This collection includes studies of some unlikely film figures like Errol Morris as well as largely unknown auteurs; it maps diverse visions of the past and future by examining pioneering 16mm and 8mm amateur films from Ireland, England, India, and China, to name a few; new archival practices; the latest YouTube viral videos as well as multiplatform experiments for Web 2.0. Writers are diverse in their origins, interest areas, and intellectual approaches. Some highlights include Richard Kilborn and Ruth Balint each writing on Hungarian archivist-filmmaker Péter Forgács and Dominique Bluher on the prolific French filmmaker Joseph Morder. This collection leaves one hungry for more. As Marker might have asked, ‘Will there be another collection?!’” – Deirdre Boyle, Associate Professor, The School of Media Studies, The New School, USA
Amateur Cinema: The Rise of North American Moviemaking, 1923-1960
by Charles Tepperman, (Berkeley: U of California Press), 2014.
“Despite the number of practitioners and the large number of works they made, very little scholarship has focused on amateur cinema. Charles Tepperman’s close reading of published and unpublished sources not only vivifies the untold history of amateur cinema, but mobilizes the history and aesthetics of amateur cinema as a wedge to consider complex aspects of cinema as a whole, especially the reception/production spectrum, the nature and incubation of technical innovation, and the practices of personal mediamaking, mashups and remix.”— Rick Prelinger, founder of Prelinger Archives and Associate Professor of Film & Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz
Editors, Martha J. McNamara and Karan Sheldon, Foreword by Alice T. Friedman, With Contributions by Dino Everett (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), 2017.
“This remarkable collection of essays both documents and brings to life the contributions of amateur filmmakers in the Northeast region of the United States. With close attention to the technical and material attributes of the medium of film, this volume, reflecting an overarching sensitivity to the nature of the archive itself, also attends to the vision of the individuals whose work comprises the extraordinary resource represented by the Northeast Historic Film. The compilation is a welcome and important addition to film studies, particularly in the digital era, when the nature of medium specificity has been radically transformed. In creating a detailed record of the nuances and evolution of celluloid technology, with its attributes and parameters, these essays collectively capture the vision of passionate amateurs in a region well known as a source of inspiration for a wide range of artistic practices. As a group these practitioners, and the record of their work treated here, have helped to define aesthetic choices and expectations that have so thoroughly permeated the twentieth century and present era as to be sometimes invisible. This important study, itself reflecting a broad range of voices, performs the important work of bringing them back into view.” — Anne Goodyear, Co-Director, Bowdoin College Museum of Art