Texas Film Round-Up

Texas Archive of the Moving Image is coming to Amarillo for the Texas Film Round-Up. They will be on the 2nd floor of the Downtown Library on 6/19, 10 am – 7 pm; and 6/20-6/21, 10 am – 5 pm. We had a chance to talk to TAMI about the project and how you can get your films digitized.

Tell us a little about the Texas Film Round-Up?

The Texas Film Round-Up is a collaboration between the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) and the Texas Film Commission (TFC) that collects Texas-related home movies, educational films, advertisements, local television, and other films and videos in the hopes of preserving Texas media heritage. The Round-Up goes to various regions in Texas where we set up a film and video drop-off point for the community, then take these films and videos back to Austin. There, we inventory the materials, provide minor cleaning and repairs if necessary, and digitize the films and videos at no cost to the donor. We then return the original materials, along with the digitized files, which are transferred either to an external hard drive or DVDs. In exchange for the free digitization service, the donor grants TAMI permission to use a digital copy of their films for educational purposes. 

TAMI also collects copies of films that are already digitized. Some families have the resources to digitize their home movie collections, but they can still be a part of Texas history by donating copies to the Archive. 

What kind of films are you looking for?

TAMI is looking for all kinds of films and videos from the Panhandle! We believe that home movies are great primary source historical documents of Texas culture, so we are happy to have family films or videos of backyard barbecues, parades on Polk Street, or any other community event.  TAMI is also interested in acquiring old television commercials, educational films, or old silent films of Texas. One great example are the films of Melton Barker (www.meltonbarker.org) – an itinerant filmmaker from Texas who traveled around the country producing “Our Gang” style films with local children from each community. We know that Barker made two Amarillo productions in 1944 and 1948, and neither of those films have ever been discovered. Most of Barker’s films are lost to time, so finding one or both of the Amarillo versions would be fantastic!

How does a film qualify for free digitalization?

To qualify for free digitization, films and videos must:

  • Be one of the following formats:
    • Film - Super 8, 8mm, and 16mm films
    • Video - VHS, VHS-C, SVHS, Beta-SP, ¾” U-matic  tapes, Hi-8 tapes, 8mm tapes, and mini-DV cassettes
    • Relate to the history and culture of Texas because they were filmed in Texas, filmed by a Texan, or featured Texas or Texans
    • Be submitted by the copyright holder, who grants permission for the films/videos to be shared via TAMI, or be in the public domain
    • Total no more than 50 items, and include no more than 10 videos per household

Why is it important to digitize Texas films?

There are many reasons why digitizing Texas film is important:

  • Films, videos, and DVDs are fragile and impermanent. In fact, only half of Hollywood films produced before 1950 still exist.  Video and DVD recordings also have short life-spans - usually deteriorating in thirty years or less. 
  • Preservation involves a complex combination of preventative practices that assist in extending the life of artifacts in order to make the past accessible to current and future generations.
  • Digitization, an important component of moving image preservation, involves converting analog media, such as film or video, into a digital format, such as a computer file. In this way, digitization helps to maintain and provide easy access to content, even if the original source material continues to deteriorate.
  • Texans have recorded their lives, and subsequently, cultural history, on film since the 1890s. Many people do not understand the value of their home movies as historical records that document the social history of the 20th-21st century, telling the story of our lives from the people’s perspective.

Have any films that you’ve digitized stood out?

Many have! In addition the Melton Barker films we mentioned previously, one that we love here at TAMI is a promotional film commissioned by the Santa Fe Railway Company that provides a sweeping overview of the state of Texas, including a piece on Amarillo that you can see at our event Friday night! The film makes the bold assertion that "Texas has come to be accepted practically as the universal gauge of the ultimate of everything," a saying that has become an old stand-by in the TAMI offices. Some other standouts include:

  • A Hollywood newsreel of Mother-in-Law day here in Amarillo
  • A Shriners Parade from 1915 that we believe may be the earliest footage of Houston
  • Telecasts from the Miss Wool of America pageant in San Angelo
  • Home movies that document activities ranging from a World War II scrap metal drive to Willie Nelson concerts to a ranch family in Wichita County who kept a calf in the kitchen!

Tell us about the film screening that’s being held at the Tascosa Drive-in Theatre.

TAMI is hosting a fun community event at the Tascosa Drive-In Theater on June 20. We will present a 15 minute curated reel that features historical footage of the Panhandle, including a 1916 Charles Goodnight film, 1930s Dustbowl coverage, home movies, newsreels, and more. These films were shot in Amarillo and around the Panhandle from 1916 though 1989 and offer the Panhandle resident a chance to see their city on the big screen. 

The gates open at 8 pm, and the show starts at sundown. We will have TAMI staff to on hand to answer any questions about film preservation or the Texas Film Round-Up, and there will be a film preservation exhibit before the show.  How to Train Your Dragon 2 will follow our reel.

Where can people go to find more information?

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