A year-by-year summary of our activities
The staff stayed through it all. Despite the difficulties, getting furloughed and all that, everyone stayed and that has made a huge difference. The exception being the Alamo staff, where we hired new people including a projectionist. Phil is still here but has stepped back from the nightly grind of the screenings.
A continuation of requests to digitize home movies and videos. People stuck at home were getting around to dealing with those shoe boxes of old films they had been meaning to have copied. Around the same time requests from producers looking for archival film increased. Location shooting was difficult, or not allowed, so archival projects really took off. Sales doubled and then doubled again. We licensed footage to Ken Burn’s Mohammad Ali series, 9to5: The Story of a Movement, a Netflix miniseries called Trial 4, the Knights of Columbus, and many local projects in Maine.
Our biggest earned revenue source is from long-term film vault rentals. Most of our 60 clients are colleges and universities who have been able to keep their accounts current. So, when you total it up, things have been humming along pretty well on the earned income front.
Our PPP loan and Shuttered Venue loan, were forgiven. Our largest grant is from the Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR) which is, in turn, funded by the Mellon Foundation. This is a $214,000 grant to digitize and catalog 2,400 television programs donated by WCVB in Boston. WCVB went on the air in 1972 with a goal of redefining the conventional wisdom of what a television station could do. They originated 60 hours of programming a week, more than twice that of any other station. They created shows which changed the face of television across the country. These range from the first legal affairs program (Miller’s Court), to a sitcom (Park Street Under- which was taken by ABC and renamed Cheers), to groundbreaking children’s programming like Jabberwocky, and youth and minority produced programming like Aqui and Rapmatazz.
Our financial donors continued to be extremely generous. Members kept sending in their dues even though the biggest benefit, movie tickets for $5 instead of $8, was useless. A small percentage of Annual Fund donors paused their giving, but most kept on and quite a few leveled up knowing there were tough times for many.
The Alamo opened for a six week stint in July, just in time for a new and more contagious variant of the Coronavirus hit hard. Movie studios were still holding back the blockbusters and had fallen in love with streaming and were sending many titles straight to the home market. We couldn’t stay open. Even though we had received grants to help, it was irresponsible to lose money so consistently. And our audience just wasn’t ready to come back.
Michael Grillo, Associate Professor, History of Art, University of Maine, joins the board. NEW ACCESS STATS: 2,300 digital files newly shared to website; 390 collections revealed; 59 new collections accessioned; 99 technical services jobs completed. CORONAVIRUS-YEAR MANAGEMENT: For staff and public safety with arrival of coronavirus the Alamo Theatre closes to screenings and events on March 14. The building shuts for all but masked and distanced staff. (The cinema closed during the 1918 influenza pandemic, too.) Staff members are put on furlough and work-from-home; cataloging, collections care and technical services continue. Alamo Theatre building basement reorganization, a major accomplishment. Braison Capitano, former theatre assistant transitions to staff part-time and helps with clean-up projects before moving to archival processing.
PANDEMIC FUNDING & GRANT AWARDS: Paycheck Protection Program loan of $57,100 arrives June 15. National Endowment for the Humanities CARES Act grant awards, $78,000 for collection processing and digitizing, to create a new store, and to move Reference by Mail to streaming video. Morton Kelly Charitable Trust $15,000 general support in face of COVID; Art House Convergence $5,200; Marshall Dodge Memorial Fund $5,000. Maine Community Foundation $6,000 toward cinema Phased Hearing Loop Array with $12,000 Anonymous grant for Hearing Loop (installation scheduled March 2021). Davis Family Foundation $10,000 for Fly Loft Restoration Project; Fisher Foundation $2,000 for Fly Loft Restoration Project (brickwork, roofing planned for summer 2021). ANNUAL FUND AND MEMBERSHIP: Donations for operational support are higher than 2019. Membership revenue dips just 23%, despite the fact that the Alamo Theatre is closed.
COMMUNITY MORALE: The cinema marquee is offered for positive messages; 208 appear providing laughs and connections on Main Street. Marquee rental brings in $3,650. PROJECTS: Sian Evans creates a one-hour documentary, Maine’s Home Movies, shown on Vermont PBS and MPBN.Trial 4 Netflix series buys over 20 minutes of stock footage. Instagram and Facebook daily clips from the collections continue.
WILLIAM S. O’FARRELL FELLOWSHIP: Madison Brown, doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, receives the 2020 O’Farrell Fellowship. Dissertation title, “Videosyncracies: Power and Contingency in the Familial Home Video Archive;” research at NHF postponed due to the pandemic.
ON HIATUS: The Summer Symposium sadly takes a break because of travel and gathering restrictions.
Andrea McCarty is elected board president. GRANT AWARDS: $7,880 grant from the Maine Community Foundation Hancock County Fund for Alamo Theatre equipment. $13,000 grant from Golden Rule Foundation for Maine’s Home Movies: Treasures from Northeast Historic Film, and $10,000 for operational support. Two $5,000 Endowment gifts from the Bullock Family Trust, one for the Alamo Theatre and one for the NHF endowment. PROJECT ACTIVITIES: Reaching Out to the People of Maine (Davis Family Foundation) large and small venue presentation improvements including new video projector, BluRay player, and portable sound system. Archival Moments to Go (Maine Arts Commission) publication of digitized media for display in the cinema and YouTube. Western Mountains (Betterment Fund) digitization and cataloging of western Maine media with exhibition at Fryeburg Fair, Hiram Historical Society, and the Ski Museum of Maine; see examples here. Cold storage (Morton-Kelly and Fisher), dehumidification and monitoring improvements for archival storage. ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM: A is for Amateur, a particularly rich two days of international programming with presenters and content from Iceland, Cuba, Spain, the Netherlands, and North America. Symposium activities include the ever-popular lobster dinner. CONFERENCE PRESENTATION: at the Association of Moving Image Archivists in Baltimore, Maryland, “Creation of an Archival Moving Image Database for AI Research” by Jim Lindner, Media Matters, and David Weiss, Northeast Historic Film. FELLOWSHIP: Tara Merenda Nelson, Curator of Moving Image Collections at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY, is awarded the O’Farrell fellowship. She is researching 8mm and Super8 film productions and their community exhibition context.
Julia Gray is elected board president. GRANT AWARDS: The Davis Family Foundation makes a grant award for “Reaching Out to Maine’s People” to acquire equipment for staging presentations at the Alamo and venues around the region. The Maine Arts Commission awards funds for video clips from NHF’s Collections in three versions: short for social media platforms; medium for Maine Public TV; long as Archival Moments in the Alamo Theatre. The Betterment Fund provides a major grant to digitize, catalog, and present 100 years of moving image collections from the Western Mountains region of Maine. We will create a landing page on our website where all content will be viewable, work with local sponsors to present these materials where they were made, and provide clips to Maine Public. The Morton-Kelly Charitable Foundation and Fisher Charitable Foundation award grants to support new equipment and upgrades to NHF’s Conservation Center Film Vaults. NHF completes the CLIR-funded project, , a $322,000 effort, partners digitize and provide access to women-made films. Digitized collections highlight the lives and perspectives of remarkable women in 1,760 files, representing 61 collections and over 390 hours of video. Project Director Karin Carlson-Snider and partner Sharon Thompson, Lesbian Home Movie Project, present the project at the AMIA annual conference in New Orleans. AWARD: The book, , wins the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Best Edited Collection Award. ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM: The symposium topic is. FELLOWSHIP: The O’Farrell Fellowship is given to Martin Johnson, Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina. Johnson studies advertising films from NHF for his next book, The Best Advertisement Will Never Be Written: Advertising Films Before Television (1895-1939).
Northeast Historic Film, the Chicago Film Archives, and the Lesbian Home Movie Project begin The Woman Behind the Camera: Home Movies and Amateur Film by Women, 1925-1997, an 18-month project to digitize and make accessible home movies and amateur film and video made by women. The project is supported by Digitizing Hidden Special Collections at The Council on Library and Information Resources, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. David S. Weiss is reappointed Executive Director. Jim Lindner sponsors the William S. O’Farrell Fellowship and joins the Board of Directors; Karan Sheldon and Justin Wolff complete their board terms. Emma Prichard joins the staff. Artemis Willis, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago, is awarded the O’Farrell Fellowship to pursue research related to lantern slides. The 18th annual Summer Film Symposium’s topic is Regional Moving Image Collections and Archives in the 21st Century. Amateur Movie Making: Aesthetics of the Everyday in New England Film, 1915-1960 (moving images at oldfilm.org/amm), published by Indiana University Press, co-edited by Martha J. McNamara and Karan Sheldon.
Charles Stanhope (Southwest Harbor, Maine) and Julia Gray (Orland, Maine) join the board of directors. Michael Hutcherson (Islesboro, Maine, and Cambridge, Mass.,) becomes NHF’s fourth board President, succeeding Jim Henderson. The 17th annual Summer Film Symposium’s topic is Screening New England, organized by Jennifer Jenkins, University of Arizona; Audrey Amidon, National Archives and Records Administration; Dino Everett, University of Southern California; Heidi Holmstrom, National Archives and Records Administration; Steve Norman, Belfast Public Library, and Devin Orgeron, North Carolina State University. Andrea Mariani, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Udine, Italy, receives the O’Farrell Fellowship; he works on site with the Kattelle technology collection. The International Maritime Film Festival is held at NHF with Wooden Boat Publications. The year sees celebration of thirty years of NHF and 100 years of the Alamo Theatre. Brook Minner leaves NHF after 18 months as executive director, and David S. Weiss steps in as Interim ED.
After a national search, the board of directors selects Brook Ewing Minner, MLIS, to succeed David Weiss as Executive Director. Events are held in Bucksport and Portland to express thanks to Weiss for his years as founding leader. One of Minner’s early tasks is to replace the roof on the original cinema building. A more delightful summer project is working with the Ellsworth Historical Society on Movie Queen, Ellsworth (1935) from the Walter J. Clark Collection—screening it for the first time since it was made. The Symposium theme is Moving Images of War and Peace. The recipient of the William S. O’Farrell Fellowship is Ryan Shand, PhD, Research Assistant, University of the West of Scotland. Shand’s project focuses on Counterpoint, a 1929 amateur fiction film made by Roy Lockwood. “The Film Life of Charles Norman Shay, Penobscot Elder” is part of the Camden International Film Festival, with Shay’s 8mm film presented by the filmmaker, introduced by Jennifer Neptune. Home Movie Day returns to NHF in October. The Davis Family Foundation supports work with the Maine State Library toward sharing collections through the Digital Public Library of America. The year-end fundraising appeal exceeds the goal, bringing in over $58,000 for operations.
Scarf Dance (1930), Hiram Percy Maxim Collection
The 35mm projectors stay in Northeast Historic Film’s cinema, the Alamo Theatre, AND fundraising is successful for digital cinema projection and additional speakers for first-run film screening. The donations come from members of the community, with matching funds from the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation. The Summer Symposium theme is Visions of House and Home; it’s the fifteenth annual gathering. The recipient of the William S. O’Farrell Fellowship is Liz Czach, Associate Professor, Dept. of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta. Czach’s project is focused on sound in amateur film. David Weiss presents film by Hiram Percy Maxim and O.P. Geer at the Museum of Modern Art, NY, in a collaboration with the Orphan Film Symposium. New board members Ron Russell, Michael Hutcherson and Max Langstaff join the Board of Directors. The Board conducts a national search for a successor to founding Executive Director David S. Weiss, retiring after 28 years of leadership.
Vision Meeting, JulyThe Association of Moving Image Archivists gives Northeast Historic Film The Silver Light Award for contributions to the field. The award citation by Andrea McCarty: read here. A new donor makes possible purchase of an MWA Flashtransfer Choice scanner, supporting high resolution transfer of 16mm, Super8, 8mm and 9.5mm film. The Symposium theme is Visions of Travel and Mobility, with presenters from the US, Canada, the UK and Luxembourg. The 2013 O’Farrell Fellowship awarded to Graeme Richard Spurr, a postgraduate student in Film and Television Studies, University of Glasgow. Past staff members convene for a Future Visions discussion led by Pam Wintle. Over 80 clips published online in Hancock County, Maine: A Century of Archival Film, supported by the Maine Community Foundation. The Boston TV News Digital Library goes live, describing 10,000+ items from our WCVB TV Collection. The journal The Moving Image 13:2 features two NHF pieces, Caitlin McGrath’s “I have Seen the Future: Home Movies of the 1939 New York World’s Fair” and Leo Goldsmith’s review of the 2012 Symposium.
Oliver Gaycken, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2012 O’Farrell Fellowship. We hold Home Movie Day in Portsmouth, NH. The Boston Local TV Digital Library blog includes WCVB TV content, including Andre the Seal. Brian Graney and Gemma Scott present at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies at the Paramount Theatre, Boston. The Symposium is Wunderkino 2: On the Varieties of Cinematic Experience. In May hold a full day screening with art and cultural historians to discuss amateur film, considering aesthetic intent, audiences, and interpretive strategies. Over 40 cold storage clients entrust their audiovisual materials to our cold storage vault.
The Symposium is Das Wunderkino: A Cinematic Cabinet of Curiosities. Walter Forsberg is named the William S. O’Farrell Fellow. Moving Images 1938-1940: Amateur Filmmakers Record the New York World’s Fair and Its Period is funded by the CLIR Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program. Brian Graney joins the staff for the collaborative descriptive project engaging Northeast Historic Film, Queens Museum of Art and The L. Jeffrey Selznick School, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film The result is fairfilm.org and three cataloging workshops at GEH, The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas, Austin, and Simmons GSLIS in Boston. We hold Home Movie Day at Maine Historical Society, Portland, Maine. Karin Carlson processes WCVB Collection. We participate in “Film Restoration and Access in the Digital Age,” at the Coolidge Award honoring film preservation.
In Our Wake: Maine’s Maritime Heritage on Film is presented at Penobscot Bay Rendezvous in Camden, Maine, and other sites. The WCVB Television Collection becomes part of Boston Local TV News project, 1960-2000. Moving Images of Work Life, 1916-1960 funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. We publish 50 new finding aids for moving image collections documenting work life with over 1,000 reel-level descriptions. Katrina Dixon and Martin Johnson present “Describing Local Films: New Thoughts on Itinerant-produced Works,” at the Association of Moving Image Archivists/IASA annual conference. We present “Describing Amateur Films of Work Life” at Saving Private Reels, in Cork, Ireland. Caitlin McGrath is the first O’Farrell Fellow. The Symposium is Filmic Representations of Indigenous Peoples.
E.B. White Collection
We celebrate the tenth year of the revival of our home, the 1916 Alamo Theatre, as a community cinema. The tenth annual Summer Film Symposium is Ways of Watching, with first-time funding from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We fill 45% of our cold storage vault space. Room remains for rental clients, an important source of operating revenue for NHF. The National Science Foundation awards $260,935 to support Language Keepers, documentation of the Passamaquoddy language. The National Film Preservation Foundation awards $16,380 for film to film copying of the Adelaide Pearson Collection and two other collections. NHF Home Movie Day takes place at Maine Historical Society and includes Martha White presenting the home movies of E.B. and Katharine White.
The facade restoration is complete. The Betterment Fund grants $50,000 for our endowment. The Maine Community Foundation awards a $25,000 challenge grant as a one-to-one matching opportunity to support our endowment by April 2010. The National Alliance of Media Arts and Culture supports succession planning by board and staff with consultant Sharon Rosen. We receive the WCVB-TV Collection, approximately 4 million feet of Boston television newsfilm from 1970-1979. The Summer Film Symposium is City & Country, organized by Mark Neumann and Janna Jones, who also present. Researchers visiting the Study Center include Maija Howe from Australia, working on The Artlessness of Untimeliness: Temporality and the Mid-Century Home Movies. A March workshop by Brodsky & Treadway is held at the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass., with support from the Golden Rule Foundation. We raise membership dues for the first time since the program was established in 1989.
Engraved bricks on the Alamo Facade
The Buy a Brick facade renovation campaign raises over $100,000 to repair the front of our classic brick building, supported by the Town of Bucksport, the Davis Family Foundation, and 263 individual gifts. The annual Summer Symposium, Time Out: Images of Play and Leisure, includes return presenters Robbins Barstow and William O’Farrell, and new participants including Erik Jorgensen on the Western Maine Sanatorium (film from our Hackett Collection). Sian Evans joins the board; Martha McNamara retires. Gemma Perretta and Barbara Manning join the staff and we lose Sean Savage to California. The National Endowment for the Humanities awards a $29,850 Digital Start-Up grant for Finding and Using Moving Images in Context, working with the Gilbert and Branch Collections’ film of China with partners Primary Source and Harvard’s China Source. New England Archivists sponsors Film Preservation Basics, a Brodsky & Treadway workshop with 12 participants from three states. The National Film Preservation Foundation awards $8,460 for preservation of a 1946 film, Trail to Better Dairying.
We celebrate our twentieth year with an event in May at the Portland Museum of Art, a screening of My Father’s Camera presented by director Karen Shopsowitz, and selections from the archives. Bob Brodsky & Toni Treadway, with support from the Golden Rule Foundation, lead a workshop, Personal & Family Film in the Digital Age, at Maine Historical Society, and we have a screening highlighting WCSH-TV. The Summer Film Symposium is The Working Life, organized by Mark Neumann and Janna Jones. The Alamo Theatre has its 90th birthday and the Davis Family Foundation awards $20,000 for improvements to our building. Cineric, Inc., preserves Mission: Alpha Centauri, a 1967 science fiction student classic, to 35mm. Q. David Bowers donates nearly 4,000 postcards of cinemas throughout the United States, with strength in the early years of the last century.
Storage consortium members move their collections to Bucksport and cold storage rental is also made available to nonprofits and individuals. Alan Kattelle pledges his amateur cinema technology collection to Northeast Historic Film and a museum committee begins its work. Cinema attendance jumps 20% over 2004. NHF staff takes part in Home Movie Day III, the first at the Maine Historical Society. Graduate-level interns join us from the University of East Anglia, Nederlands Filmmuseum, and the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program at NYU. The sixth annual Summer Film Symposium theme is Amateur Fiction Film. The Librarian of Congress names The Making of an American (1920) to the National Film Registry.
The National Endowment for the Humanities awards a Stabilizing Humanities Collections grant to outfit the Conservation Center and to create an archival storage consortium of nonprofit organizations. Roundtable III includes Native Studies, metadata, and student rights, safety and privacy. The fifth annual Symposium, Moving Image as Biography, draws presenters including Marée Delofski from Australia. Internet video sales double from 2003; VHS sales are largely replaced by DVD sales.
The new Conservation Center building rises. We present a screening at the Library of Congress Pickford Theater: Supreme Court Justice David Souter attends. Roundtable II focuses on online Social Studies Maine content, with a panel on the Wabanaki Curriculum Commission. We hold the fourth annual Symposium, Toward Access, Interpretation and Understanding, the Northeast Silent Film Festival, and take part in the first Home Movie Day. Our founders receive the Constance H. Carlson Award for exemplary service to the Humanities from the Maine Humanities Council.
Conservation Center groundbreaking takes place in June. The Online Collections Guide [Wayback Machine snapshot] debuts, a searchable database funded by the Davis Family Foundation. We host the first annual Roundtable, on iMovie and Archival footage, for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (all 7th and 8th graders receive MacIntosh iBooks). Cineric film laboratory makes a major pro bono gift. From Stump to Ship is named to the National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress.
NEH Challenge Grants makes a $500,000 award to help complete the capital campaign; funds to be divided between establishing an endowment fund and construction of the Conservation Center. Renovations bring new safe floors to the front of the building. Video streaming starts on Road Runner of Maine.
The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation and Pentagoet support the capital campaign, joined by many others. The Northeast Silent Film Festival debuts, and we hold the first Summer Symposium. The Library of Congress National Film Preservation Tour draws people of all ages for classic films.
10,000th Alamo Theatre customer June 1999
The Alamo Theatre opens for regular movies on May 1. Film preservation events sell out including Mary Pickford in Daddy Long Legs and Easy Rider. Collections grow with 85 new moving-image accessions and significant ephemera and equipment collections.
The Education Committee completes a mission statement. The auditorium in the Alamo Theatre is functionally completed. NHF joins a consortium of moving image archives awarded a major preservation and access grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The auditorium is constructed and made ready for outfitting. Champion International Corporation makes the initial substantial donation to kick off the capital campaign.
The Maine Mall and Burlington Square Mall host the Going to the Movies exhibition, along with more than 20 talks by film scholars-and film with an orchestra conducted by Gillian Anderson. 1100 people attend a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, Vermont. Going to the Movies PDF.
The Collections Guide is published with information on 200 collections. Rick Prelinger screens films, one of many archivists and filmmakers speaking and/or lending prints and videotapes. Arts consultant Bruce Hazard studies and submits recommendations on organizational management.
Interior of the Alamo, 1993. Photo by Alan McClelland
Going to the Movies, the social history of moviegoing project, receives a grant of $185,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create an interpretive history exhibition based on original research and to offer lectures and screenings.
The Kellogg and the Davis Family Foundations make grants to help renovate the Alamo Theatre. Construction starts in the mud basement. National Video Resources funds a project to expand video distribution.
The Alamo Theatre building is offered in a bank foreclosure auction. NHF members and friends pledge enough to bid and buy the building for $37,500. The gutted space becomes home to the archives and quickly opens to the public with a 16mm film screening series and potluck suppers.
Videotape distribution takes off with the first “catalog” in Moving Image Review, 14 titles. Video Loan Service, a free video loan service, also starts with 31 titles. (In 2000 there will be more than 300.)
Grant support increases with funding from the Maine Humanities Council for Going to the Movies: A Social History of Motion Pictures in Maine Communities. A National Alliance of Media Arts Centers-funded study helps management planning.
The Board votes to create a membership program emphasizing connections and affordability. Staff members participate in conferences, discussing amateur footage and becoming leaders in this field. University of Maine management study helps develop a plan for NHF’s future.
Cooperative work with other archives results in restoration of the 1921 The Seventh Day with the Museum of Modern Art, and repatriation of the 1909 A Sailor’s Sacrifice from England. The first Moving Image Review is published.
Television newsfilm is a focus with the Bangor Historical Society/WABI Collection of 16mm film. The archives convenes an advisory group, and launches an educational pilot project.
Visits to film archives around the country encourage the creation of a regional archives. Northeast Historic Film is incorporated in Maine; the Board meets for the first time with just three members: historian David C. Smith, film archivist Pam Wintle, and David Weiss.
Karan Sheldon and David Weiss work for the University of Maine on the preservation and tour of From Stump to Ship: A 1930 Logging Film. The experience reveals the need to find, preserve, and make accessible deteriorating, neglected film.