Who I Am
My name is Tom Doggett. I was raised LDS and have always enjoyed old LDS films. The LDS Church embraced film production as part of their worldwide activities in the mid-20th Century and it has been an increasingly important aspect of their public messaging ever since. Through the YouTube "Hard-to-Find Mormon Videos" channel, I've helped bring over 300 LDS films back into the public eye. I've received many letters from faithful Mormons thanking me for my efforts, and many views from others who have enjoyed some of the more odd videos from time past!
The Film That Helped Resolve a Financial Crisis
In the 1960s the LDS Church was in the middle of a large budget crisis brought on by over-development and other issues. The still-fledgling LDS Motion Picture studio was tasked on how to help with the problem. Their solution was to film a dramatic event they assumed to be historical that related to the payment of tithing: when President Lorenzo Snow went to Latter-day Saints struggling through an extreme drought in St. George, Utah, in the late 1800s, and promised them rain if they would recommit to the payment of tithes and offerings to the Church. While the story itself as portrayed was more legendary than historical, tithing was an important speaking point during President Snow's tenure (emphasizing tithing on gross monetary income as opposed to what had previously been a donation of a percentage of goods and services reaped beyond a family's annual needs). The 50-minute film was a hit throughout Mormon congregations when it was released in 1963 and its emphasis on the payment of tithing certainly played a role in the resolution of the LDS Church's budgetary crisis at the time.
In the late 1970s as videocassettes became more commonplace and more economical for local congregations than old film projectors, the LDS Church released a much shorter edition of the film on video, and it is this half-hour version (and another even-shorter edition made in the 1990s) that most Latter-day Saints are familiar with. The original film has never been made available since its original released on 16mm film.
Now you have a chance to bring this film back to life in its unseen entirety in stunning original color!
This project is to aid in the digitization of the original 50-minute version of the film that played its role in both LDS history and culture ever since. Your contribution can bring back footage that has been seen for decades: footage about history and issues that are again at the forefront of modern Internet discussion.
Making a high quality digital edition of 16mm film is expensive work, as it requires the scanning of each individual frame. Another cost is the required post-processing of the digitized frames. The natural reddening of old film must be accounted for as old film naturally reddens over time and does not do so equally over the length of a roll. Cracks, hairs, and other film artifacts can be removed.
With this crowdfunding effort I am aiming to amass enough funds to produce a film of a high enough resolution to reproduce all of the original details of the 16mm film with the original colors. Basically, I want to be able to present a film that will be a close to what the film originally looked like when released in 1963.
What You Get
The final goal will be to release the film to sites like the Internet Archive and YouTube where they can be seen and shared publicly. I will released a version of the film with additional end credits relating to this crowdfunding campaign and hopefully you can be part of it! I anticipate that this version with these extra film credits will remain the primary version of the film used by historians and enthusiasts for years to come.
You can see the results of my current efforts so far at the YouTube channel "Hard-to-Find Mormon Videos" (http://youtube.com/c/hardtofindmormonvideos). Each video is a window into the past of Utah and the LDS Church, and this effort is no different from what has already been done.
How This Impacts Others
This effort will benefit everyone. As the film was released in 1963 and the copyright was not renewed it has entered the public domain and as such is available for public use and display (there may be a few issues with still-licensed audio, but I have not yet been able to determine more about this yet). That means that not only will those who donated to this fun have legal and free access to the film, but so would everyone else!
* A historian who wished to discuss either the late 1800s or the 1960s for the LDS Church could make free use of the film in any presentation she or he wished to make.
* Remakes and remixes would be possible (including "Mystery Science Theater 3000" riffing tracks, sketches, and other creative endeavors).
* A film house, symposium, historians' group, or other venue would be likely able to display the film publicly (pending evaluation of the film's soundtrack).
Everyone benefits, and if we can meet, or even exceed, the goal as given, the better the final product will be for everyone to use.
This project means a lot to me for the thrill of being involved in making something lost to history accessible again. I know you want to share in that thrill yourself!