Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/4/2020 (405 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s a common story. You have a box of ancient home movies shot on 8mm film sitting in a closet, but no projector on which to screen them.
Or maybe you have footage of a ’90s-era Canada Day celebration shot on a mini-VHS tape, but your VHS player has long been relegated to the low-tech scrap heap.
If the footage is recognizably Manitoban or features long-gone landmarks, such as a drive-in movie theatre, an ’80s-era video arcade, or the old United Army Surplus store on Portage Avenue, your home movies could be valuable enough to be digitized, at no cost.
The Gimli Film Festival is launching a new project, the Manitoba Movie Archive, that allows Manitobans to have up to an hour of their home movies transferred to a digital format free of charge. In exchange, they must agree to allow the footage to be put in the public domain so that it may be accessed through the online archive archive.org and through the Gimli Film Festival website (gimlifilm.com).
"The real goal is to create this treasure trove of historical images of Manitoba that the public can browse," says GFF director Aaron Zeghers. "It will be in the public domain, so that would allow people making documentaries or people making whatever kind of new artwork to access these images and create new work, to recontextualize these images and use them in an effort to kind of reflect on the history of Manitoba."
The project launches at a time when older folks might be looking for a way to preserve old memories and pass them onto the next generation in a format that allows them to be seen, Zeghers says.
"We are dealing with some pretty unprecedented times right now — times when the future looks questionable," her says. "So it’s helpful to take a look at the past and remind ourselves of the progress that we’ve made."
The project was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic, but was accelerated in the wake of the crisis. It comes at a time when the festival itself (scheduled to run July 22-26) is in doubt.
"This is one of the only things that we had been planning that doesn’t involve people gathering in a single location," Zeghers says. "So of course it was something that we fast-tracked. But it has been in the works for a while with our Manitoba Project, which we’ve launched to celebrate the anniversary of Manitoba 150, and the 20th anniversary of the Gimli Film Festival."
The project outlines some rules and restrictions. The project will only transfer footage shot in Manitoba and shot before the year 2000, and will only transfer footage for individuals prepared to waive all copyright over the materials and willing to place the transferred footage in the public domain.
Priority will be given to images that have historical relevance, including historical Manitoba landscapes, locations, architecture, events and individuals, and they’re looking exclusively for movies shot on physical media (film and videotapes). Hard drives and SD cards are not eligible.
Anyone can only send a maximum of one hour of footage to start, although Zeghers allows that limit could be waived if someone is sitting on a gold mine of desirable material.
"We are looking for footage that has the historical relevancy and people are limited to sending us one hour of footage to begin with," Zeghers says. "If the first hour footage is really great, we would totally consider extending the invitation to send more stuff down the road."
Any individual submitting footage must fill out a signed copyright release form, and the applicant is responsible for the initial cost of shipping physical media to GFF. (GFF will pay the return shipping costs, but will not liable for any damaged, missing or lost materials.)
"It’s while supplies last," cautions Zeghers. "We only have finite resources, so it’s totally advantageous for people to go online and fill out the registration forms and let us know what type of footage they think they have. And then our staff will follow up with them."
To register, log onto wfp.to/homemovie
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.