April 24, 2023

Writing Lost Silent Films: A brief history of the Spanish film booklet and its value in the reconstruction of lost silent films

In the Spring 2016 issue of The Moving Image, the Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), author Paul S. Moore, associate professor of communication and culture at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, discusses how ephemera can provide a glimpse of the history of lost silent films in his article, "Ephemera as Medium: The Afterlife of Lost Films". While the word ephemera can be used broadly to encompass objects such as movie posters of all kinds, from lobby cards to half-sheets, one sheets, three sheets, and more, Moore also mentions the growth of digital archives, which offer an even greater variation in film history.

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December 11, 2021

Writing Inspiration from Digital Visuals

Sometimes a writer will want to write an article for his or her website or blog but is without inspiration or an idea. While a change of scenery can certainly help - perhaps a temporary relocation or a vacation from the daily humdrum of life - another aid for getting fresh ideas to write about can come from digital visuals. Normally when a writer has completed an article and is seeking an image or two to accompany the article, perhaps one of public domain, digital repositories online such as Wikimedia Commons or Flickr will be used just for this purpose.

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July 5, 2021

To Rewrite or Not to Rewrite

How do you decide when to rewrite an article that is more than a few years old and want to republish it? The article could be on any topic and might at first seem to be fairly complete insofar as basic information goes. For example, an article on the Challinor & Taylor Glass Company of Tarentum, Pennsylvania provides only a few lines on the history of the company because that is all that was available at the time when the article was written, in 2008. The bulk of the article consists of the different types of glass manufactures by the company, as well as patented glass design patterns

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December 22, 2020

Reconstructing a lost silent film chapter

Sometimes when a lost film is rediscovered, a reel or two may be missing from the complete film. In cases where the extant reels are intended for restoration and digitization, the missing reel might be reconstructed. Many times the reconstructed footage will consist of film stills, synopsis elements and film review (which can be found through Lantern Media History) information. In rare cases, depending upon the silent film's popularity, a film booklet may be sought after, which can be an invaluable research tool for silent film preservationists.

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December 14, 2019

Creating identifiers for a film poster collection

Collecting film posters can be fun, but should the time come to organize it more efficiently by cataloging the posters, what is the best way to do it? It may be natural to use a regular set of consecutive numbers as identifiers, such as 1, 2, 3... regardless of how many posters are in your collection. But some film posters, especially lobby cards, were manufactured in sets, usually in numbers of eight, which might make ordinary consecutive numbering a challenge. Additionally, lobby card sets often had a title card, followed by seven more colorful ones all the same size: 11" x 14".

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May 24, 2019

Using film exhibitor's reviews in a movie article

Upon glancing through a vintage Hollywood trade publication, the film writer may see a page or two consisting of three columns of text with no pictures or artwork of any kind. After spending a few minutes reading these few pages, the writer realizes that these are film exhibitor reviews, containing very basic information about a newly released movie.

So what exactly is a film exhibitor's review? Basically, it is a review of a newly screened film by the movie theatre owner - who was often called the exhibitor many decades ago - and submitted to a Hollywood trade publication such as Moving Picture World or Exhibitor's Herald.

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March 31, 2019

Writing a public domain comic book superhero

Using a public domain comic book hero or superhero in a short story, novel, flash fiction, non-fiction, or even a poem can be the perfect way to impart a piece of comic book history. There are many different ways one of these long-forgotten comic superheroes can be used: as a literary device, an actual character in the story, or even as a subplot as a means of educating the reader about a personal interest in Golden Age comic book heroes or superheroes.

The history of comic book heroes and superheroes is fascinating in itself and there are a number of websites dedicated to the subject.

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December 24, 2018

Writing the historical short story

History can provide many different ideas for a short story, inspiring enough creativity in the writer and provide a feeling of authenticity to captivate the reader. Of course, the writer of the historical short story spends time researching the time period to be written about, making notes about the habits, manner of dress, type of food eaten, and social norms, as well as mention important historical figures who were in power at the time, such as Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the governor of Louisiana from 1701 to 1743.

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September 27, 2018

Reconstructing plots from lost films using film booklets

Collectors of paper movie memorabilia might be familiar with and even own a number of film booklets. These film booklets, generally published in Europe, contain film stills plus a condensed story of an American film. The popular Biblioteca Films or Los Films del Far-West publications, by Gato Negro in Barcelona, Spain, are commonly seen in places like antique shops, ephemera shows, or online auction sites. Often printed on newspaper-quality paper, these film books were acquired by cinema patrons in the lobby at the box office

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April 8, 2018

Cataloging your electronic research materials

Having an ample supply of electronic research sources on hand is essential for the writer. While more sources can always be added, old ones deleted, or at least placed in a "rarely used" folder, it can be beneficial to organize them to include descriptions as a means of identifying what topics can be derived from for various articles or stories. This is where cataloguing comes in handy, and best of all, no fancy software is required to complete the job.

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