William O'Farrell Fellowship Awarded

Submitted by Jessica

Northeast Historic Film (NHF) is pleased to announce the 2011 award of the William O’Farrell Fellowship to Walter Forsberg, a Research Fellow at New York University's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program. The Fellowship provides a stipend of $1,500 to support research at NHF, a regional moving image archives established in 1986.

Forsberg’s work will focus on the Donald C. Brown Jr. Collection of 35mm drive-in and theatrical trailers, collected from over a dozen cinemas in New England and West Virginia. Rather than ‘Coming Attractions’ trailers for upcoming feature films, the trailers in the collection consist largely of ‘snipes’ and interstitial trailers, such as: ‘tags’ and ‘daters’ (eg. “Starts Sunday,” “Bargain Matinee”); concessions advertisements (eg. “Let’s All Go To the Lobby”); theatre policy notices (eg. “No Smoking”); holiday well-wishing messages from local businesses; Soundie-style musical interludes; and, countdown clocks—viz. everything other than the promos for feature films that one generally associates with the term, ‘trailer.’Donald C. Brown, Jr. Collection

Dating from the 1950s through the 1980s, these other kinds of trailers are an oft-overlooked genre of independent and industrial film. Produced by such regional independents as Chicago’s Filmack and Boston’s Pike Productions, snipe film production was known to be a refuge for emerging or out-of-work animators; Walt Disney, Dave Fleischer, and Jay Ward are all known to have authored snipes during the hungriest points of their careers. Furthermore, as they were very often custom-tailored to the needs of specific theatres and localities, snipe films can reveal much about the cultural heritage and movie-going practices of individual communities. In a 1993 report on the state of American film preservation, the Library of Congress cited advertising short trailers as important records of “America’s social memory.”

The William O'Farrell Fellowship is awarded to an individual engaged in research toward a publication, production, or presentation based on moving image history and culture. The award honors the legacy of Canadian film archivist William S. O’Farrell, an advocate for amateur and nontheatrical film collections. O’Farrell was a valued supporter of NHF and an unparalleled mentor and friend. The 2012 William O’Farrell Fellowship competition will be announced in the fall, with applications accepted through mid-January 2012. For more information, contact Barbara Manning, NHF Business Manager, at barb@oldfilm.org.

Northeast Historic Film (NHF) collects, preserves, and makes accessible the moving image history of northern New England. The nonprofit organization runs a community cinema in the 1916 Alamo Theatre, and stores thousands of hours of videotape and more than 10 million feet of film in a cold storage vault. For more information, visit us at www.oldfilm.org.

NHF holds one of the nation’s largest collections of home movies and amateur films. We also hold all surviving Maine television newsfilm in seven collections, as well as, the WCVB-TV Boston collection consisting of 4 million feet of 16mm newsfilm.

Media Contact:
Jessica Hosford, External Affairs Director