This weekend, the state invites all amateur filmmakers to empty their attics, unpack their trunks and haul out their treasures for posterity — rescuing those dusty Super 8 films and VHS tapes with the title crossed out twice.
On Saturday, for the second year, the State Archives of North Carolina will host Home Movie Day, a free-for-all showing of footage by everyday camera dabblers.
The idea behind the event is partly to preserve films shot with obsolete technology, which might otherwise deteriorate to the point of uselessness. All VHS, 8 mm and 16 mm products shown Saturday will be converted free to DVD format.
But the State Archives also hopes participants will consider adding their home-shot gems to the state’s collection, provided they add to an understanding of state life.
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“If it pertains to some historic event, or if it helps illuminate North Carolina history, we’d love to have it,” said Kim Andersen, audio-visual archivist. “Home movies don’t have to be babies’ birthdays. I hope people will bring in their high school plays. High school graduations. Band competitions.”
Last year, the event drew roughly 200 people toting reels and tapes. Interest ran high enough that the archives had to turn people away. If you came last year and didn’t make it in time, you’re on a list this year to take the front of the line.
While videos that make the screen win the contributor a free DVD, owners of those dropped off without being shown have to pay for reproductions. Either way, the copy gets mailed to the filmmaker rather than handed out on site, which slowed things down last year.
The only qualification for a film making it into the archives is relevance to state history, which can be a broad definition. You don’t have to have shot footage of a governor’s swearing-in ceremony. An archivist might want a tape just for the clothes people are wearing.
Andersen said a family recently brought in footage of vacation spots in the ’60s and ’70s. Seemingly uninteresting at first glance, it gave the archives a field day.
“We’ve got Land of Oz, we’ve got Tweetsie Railroad,” Andersen said. “It’s more about what these people were doing than who they were. They had old cars. They had old beach cottages that don’t exist anymore.”