Help Us Archive Our Silent Films
The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum (located where Charlie Chaplin developed his “Little Tramp” character in films for the Essanay Studios) has a large film collection consisting of both 35mm and 16mm films. The films range in age from early nitrate film stock to more recent diacetate, triacetate, and polyester.
The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum is both a living history museum and research archive ( www.nilesfilmmuseum.org). Our film collection started with about 300 films 12 years ago and has grown to over 9,000 films. For the museum to be able to properly archive and catalog this collection requires inspection and repair work on each individual film. The museum uses these films for weekly presentations of silent film with live music and classic films in a 1913 theater as well as renting films to festivals, which also requires maintenance and re-inspection of the films.
We have an experienced film archivist who has been working with us for the past year thanks to a grant and matching donations, and we need to keep him active in the constant on-going process of inspecting, repairing, and archiving our growing collection.
Our films have come from various private collections and some of the film prints are one of a kind. For example we have original film footage from Hiller Aviation documenting the progress of helicopter development and their use for medical transport. We also have 1928 35mm footage of a railroad convention where locomotive manufacturers are demonstrating their new models to railroad owners: some never went into production. In our collection is a rare format 28mm real-estate film showing the development of the Twin Peaks residential neighborhood in San Francisco.
Documentaries are just a part of our collection. We also acquired a lost 35mm nitrate print of a film produced by animator Charlie Bowers and had it preserved onto safety film. We have also located and preserved several Essanay films that were produced in our area.
Our goal is to continue preserving lost and rare films and to continue archiving our collection. Our goal of $35,000 will provide us with the funding needed to continue the project of inspecting, cataloging and archiving films currently in our collection.