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Books on the History of Academic Film

Academic Films for the Classroom: A History by Geoff Alexander

Exploring a realm of film often dismissed as campy or contrived, this book traces the history of classroom educational films from the silent era through the 1980s, when film finally began to lose ground to video-based and digital media. It profiles 35 individual academic filmmakers who played a role in bringing these roughly 100,000 16mm films to classrooms across North America, paying particular attention to auteur John Barnes and his largely neglected body of work. Other topics include the production companies contributing to the growth and development of the academic film genre; the complex history of post-Sputnik, federally-funded educational initiatives which influenced the growth of the academic film genre; and the denouement of the genre in classrooms and its resurgence on the Internet.

Films You Saw in School by Geoff Alexander

Films You Saw in School: A Critical Review of 1,153 Classroom Educational Films (1958-1985) in 74 Subject Categories jumps beyond the historical story of the companies, filmmakers, laws, and history of the classroom educational film movement that were discussed in his first book. Here more than one thousand academic classroom films are categorized into 12 major classifications and a number of other sub-genres, an essential insight into little-known behind-the-scenes stories that drove the making of these films, many of which are as relevant today as when they were made.

Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States edited by Devin Orgeron, Marsha Orgeron, and Dan Streible

A vastly influential form of filmmaking seen by millions of people, educational films provide a catalog of twentieth century preoccupations and values. As a medium of instruction and guidance, they held a powerful cultural position, producing knowledge both inside and outside the classroom. This is the first collection of essays to address this vital phenomenon. The book provides an ambitious overview of educational film practices, while each essay analyzes a crucial aspect of educational film history, ranging from case studies of films and filmmakers to broader generic and historical assessments. Offering links to many of the films, Learning With the Lights Off provides readers the context and access needed to develop a sophisticated understanding of, and a new appreciation for, a much overlooked film legacy.

Useful Cinema edited by Charles R. Acland and Haidee Wasson

By exploring the use of film in mid-twentieth-century institutions, including libraries, museums, classrooms, and professional organizations, the essays in Useful Cinema show how moving images became an ordinary feature of American life. In venues such as factories and community halls, people encountered industrial, educational, training, advertising, and other types of “useful cinema.” Screening these films transformed unlikely spaces, conveyed ideas, and produced subjects in the service of public and private aims. Such functional motion pictures helped to shape common sense about cinema’s place in contemporary life. Whether measured in terms of the number of films shown, the size of audiences, or the economic activity generated, the “non-theatrical sector” was a substantial and enduring parallel to the more spectacular realm of commercial film. In Useful Cinema, scholars examine organizations such as UNESCO, the YMCA, the Amateur Cinema League, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They also consider film exhibition sites in schools, businesses, and industries. As they expand understanding of this other American cinema, the contributors challenge preconceived notions about what cinema is.

Before Video by Anthony Slide

The video revolution in the 1980s affected all areas of the American entertainment industry; its impact was most dramatic--ultimately devastating--to the non-theatrical film field. Non-theatrical film is the term used to describe motion pictures which are not shown in movie theaters, but are produced and/or distributed to markets that include the educational community, home, and business and industry. The author covers the early Hollywood-produced features and short subjects in a format other than 35mm for homes, hospitals and correctional institutions, as well as industrial films. This is also the history of two major non-theatrical libraries, Bell and Howell and Kodascope, both of which were founded to service the needs of purchasers of the then-newly introduced 16mm projectors.The book documents how the advent of the 16mm projector made possible the introduction of audio-visual aids in classrooms and offices. A number of production companies were established, primarily in Chicago, to produce films for this new outlet. In addition, Hollywood saw a new market and began licensing distribution of the films. Complete with appendices providing distributors from the 1920s-1940s and current names and addresses of non-theatrical film sources, this book-length study of the history of this film genre is both important and much needed.

Books about Film Archival Practice

The Film Preservation Guide by The National Film Preservation Foundation

The Film Preservation Guide describes methods for handling, duplicating, making available, and storing film that are practical for research institutions with limited resources. It is organized in chapters tracing the path of film through the preservation process, from acquisition to exhibition, and includes case studies, photo-illustrations prepared by the staff of George Eastman House, charts, 10-page glossary, bibliography, and index.

Film Restoration by Leo Enticknap

Film Restoration: The Culture and Science of Audiovisual Heritage is the first monograph-length work intended to enable the general public and readers with a humanities background to understand what film restoration does and does not involve. In doing so, Enticknap engages with current debates on audio-visual artefacts and identifies the ways in which traditional methods and approaches within film studies, history and cultural studies fail to provide the tools needed to study and criticise restored films meaningfully and reliably. The book also includes a technical glossary of over 150 terms related to the processes of film restoration

Appraising Moving Images by Sam Kula

Written by an archivist with forty years of experience in England, the United States, and Canada, Appraising Moving Images is a practical guide to archival and monetary appraisal of moving images for anyone who has responsibility for moving image collections. It reviews the history of moving image archives and it assesses the relevance of general archival appraisal theory and selection methodology to the work of moving image archivists; provides examples of 'best practice' in managing the life cycle of moving images, from creation to long-term preservation; and examines various approaches to monetary appraisal that have proven effective in recent years.

Saving Cinema by Caroline Frick

The importance of media preservation has in recent years achieved much broader public recognition. From the vaults of Hollywood and the halls of Congress to the cash-strapped museums of developing nations, people are working to safeguard film from physical harm. But the forces at work aren't just physical. The endeavor is also inherently political. What gets saved and why? What remains ignored? Who makes these decisions, and what criteria do they use? Saving Cinema narrates the development of the preservation movement and lays bare the factors that have influenced its direction. Archivists do more than preserve movie history; they actively produce and codify cinematic heritage.

Film Preservation by Karen F. Gracy

Film Preservation: Competing Definitions of Value, Use, and Practice offers a unique window on the world of film archiving. The author brings a historical, economic, and social framework to bear upon this unique community, looking at the people, institutions, and corporations that play key roles in the preservation endeavor. Through ethnographic narratives that place the reader squarely within the scene, Gracy gives readers the context to understand fully the complexities of film archiving work, and what it means to be a member of this profession. This book provides an introduction to the major players in the film community and the internal and external forces that influence film preservation, and a background of the film preservation movement. It also addresses the constraints of funding, intellectual property issues, and the orphan film movement. The primary focus is on the relationships among the various players: archives, studio and film preservation labs, and content owners.

Books that Discuss the 16mm Film Format

Everyday Movies by Haidee Wasson

Everyday Movies documents the twentieth-century rise of portable film projectors. It demonstrates that since World War II, the vast majority of movie-watching did not happen in the glow of the large screen but rather took place alongside the glitches, distortions, and clickety-clack of small machines that transformed home, classroom, museum, community, government, industrial, and military venues into sites of moving-image display. Reorienting the history of cinema away from the magic of the movie theater, Haidee Wasson illustrates the remarkable persistence and proliferation of devices that fundamentally rejected the sleek, highly professionalized film show. She foregrounds instead another kind of apparatus, one that was accessible, affordable, adaptable, easy to use, and crucially, programmable. Revealing rich archival discoveries, this book charts a compelling and original history of film that brings to light new technologies and diverse forms of media engagement that continue to shape contemporary life.