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Honoring And Archiving Home Movies
by Bart Weiss 28 Dec 2010

Your home movies and videos are important and should be preserved. Guest blogger Bart Weiss tells you why – and how.


Guest blogger Bart Weiss is the director of the Video Association of Dallas and VideoFest.

Greetings seekers of art

One of my great joys of the week is reading Frank Rich’s column in the NY times. He writes about politics with an ear towards pop culture and movies. Often I hold it out for  Sunday night as a treat for myself when all the rest of the work is done. This week’s piece is about a home movie called Disneyland Dream. I love what Rich says here but what I really love is that he is talking about home movies. One of my cultural heroes and mentors is Rick Prelinger. Rick taught me that home movies (and educational films) tell us overtly about who we are and what we believe in. They serve as pure cultural anthropology. I once had a friend who brought his home movies to his therapist to show what his parents were really like.  (Nowadays you can just go to YouTube.) Rick tells us that the media we throw away is the media we need to preserve, ephemeral media.

How much ephemeral media do we create these days? And what stories will they tell researchers and family in the future?

Another great thing about Rich’s piece: it mentions Archive.org. If you have never been to the site,  go now. (Actually wait until you finish this post. I promise to get to the end soon.) I hope you don’t have a deadline when you visit. It is a time hole, but a good one – as opposed to playing Angry Birds.

Archive.org has home movies, education films, indy films, audio recordings photos and a crazy section called the Wayback Machine that archives the web. This is the place to go for all things ephemeral, so it is no surprise the Rick Prelinger is a key player here. Another thing about this archive: you are free to use the material in non-commerical film and video – a masher/cultural jammer paradise. So go check it out.

As for home movies, go to the closet and see what you have and when you have some time see what these films say to you. But, you may say, I don’t have a Super 8 projector.  What should I do?

Well you are in luck, TAMI to the rescue. I don’t mean the TAMI show, which was cool.  I mean the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. This Austin org will transfer your home movies for FREE if they were made in Texas and if you don’t mind that they’ll also be put online.

Maybe sometime I’ll post the home movies of me shaving for the first time when I was 29. Or maybe some things are meant to remain ephemeral.