Dec 26, 2012


postscript to previous post:

A/V Geeks proprietor Skip Elsheimer provides the missing metadata about the acetate child crystalized into im/mortality by Bill Morrison. And thereby incidentally reminds us why collectors, geeks, and entrepreneurs are essential to film preservation, and, let's say, cultural heritage in general.

The Decasia shot comes from the A/V Geeks Archive's 16mm print of an educational film from the legendary Centron Corporation of Lawrence, Kansas:
logo from A Citizen Makes a Decision (1954)

Safety on the School Bus (1951)
released by Young America Films
11 min., b/w, sd., 16mm
OCLC no. 5913398 

Despite having been assigned a unique identifier number by an unknown librarian for the Online Computer Library Center (nonprofit producer of the glorious public access catalog, no libraries are currently listed in the WorldCat record as holding any kind of copy of Safety on the School Bus.  

How did the frame from this unique A/V Geeks print get to Decasia and how did the print get damaged? writes this Boxing Day morning, 2012:
It was damaged when Hurricane Fran [Sept. 1996] flooded my basement and knocked out power so the sump pump stopped working. Water damaged around 200 films. I was very depressed about it and didn't really want to go through the collection to assess the damage. Then I got a request from Bill Morrison, who was only looking for damaged material.  That gave me the push to find the bad stuff...

Saludos to Elsheimer and fellow Atomic Age men and women who collect films abandoned by their owners (first-, second-, and third-hand) and who hold own to them even after floods and hurricanes, having faith in their Orphic value.

courtesy of Skip Elsheimer.

Much more could be said, but for the holiday moment, I will just underscore the point about film preservation and access occurring outside of official channels of collecting institutions or copyright holders.

We do have an increasing amount of knowledge and appreciation about Centron and its kindred producer-distributors. (See Faye E. Riley's University of Kansas dissertation and her essay "Centron, an Industrial/Educational Film Studio, 1947-1981," in Hediger and Vonderau's Films that Work, 2009). However, even the most likely source of access to Centron films, the University of Kansas library in Lawrence, has only 5 records for Centron-authored works in its catalog. Tellingly, 4 of the 5 items containing Centron films are DVD compilations -- each of which Skip Elsheimer curated or produced or both:  Atomic Age Classics, vol. 1 and vol. 8, How to Be a Man, and How to Be a Woman. 

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What Skip Elsheimer et al. are up to 
in Raleigh, North Carolina, 
April 25-27, 2013: