The mentality of the (true) film collector

Selection from Small Gauge Reel & Can Archive


Although some would say I’m a film collector, the film archivist is something of a different mindset than an actual film collector. OK, I will agree I am a film collector of sorts. But a true film collector would rather watch a projected faded red and scratched up film rather than a restored Blu-ray disc of the film. For me, I would rather watch a restored digital copy than a subpar projected film copy. 

Here is a recent ad from a film collector’s forum:

The Goodbye Girl (1977).
Pretty good print, theatrical. Eastman turning. A few lines, splices at reel joins. Got this a while ago, watched it, enjoyed it, but not something I’ll watch over and over again. Would much rather get another print to enjoy. $275 shipped (C USA only), but would much rather trade for that value.

‘Eastman turning’ means the film is red and lost most of the original color. 


With filters on the projector lens or chemical treatment they can get something a little better to project…


Internet Photos: My World in 8mm – Fair Use

While film is mesmerizing to project, I’m not stuck into that ‘projection only’ mentality like a true film collector is. Actually, I don’t do much projection at all any longer. Every time you project a film it causes wear and tear.


Damaged section of 16mm film from The Radio Man

Photo: D.D.Teoli Jr.

As a film archivist I like to bestow as little wear and tear on a film as possible. And some of these projectors and editors are a pain to get lamps for. You may need to buy used projector lamps on eBay from Ukraine…with no guarantee of them even working. (But that is just one extreme example.)


Photo: eBay – Fair Use

If you have sound films, your projector also needs an exciter lamp for the optical sound reproduction. That is another hassle.

Photo: Etsy – Fair Use

It is just a never-ending hunt for used or old stock lamps when you project or run a film editor.


Another difference is film collectors usually would never buy a film like this one below. Most film collectors like feature films and in somewhat pristine shape. I prefer short subject films and not feature films. But that is not the point here. The point is they would not buy a warped-up film suffering from vinegar syndrome to this extent…unless they had a dose of film archivist in them. 


Photo: D.D.Teoli Jr.

With a film archivist it is a challenge to save some part of film history, no matter what condition it is in. I mentioned above that I like restored digital copies of a film. Well, I’m no snob with films. Most of my archival work deals with scratched up, faded and warped and ripped films with various stages of vinegar syndrome and sometimes bug infestation. I’m just saying if the choice is watching a faded and scratched up projected film or a restored digital copy…I will go for the restored digital copy. 

Recently a picker acquired a huge goldmine of films from a deceased collector and amateur filmmaker. This is just a miniscule fraction of films he acquired from the estate…for peanuts. He sold one box of train slides for $5,000+. 


So, here was a case where a picker had some pristine films from a film collector that was dispersed in short order before they sat too long and started to decompose in some basement or attic. I just wish I was rich and could have bought the entire collection…to archive.


The late Dennis R. Atkinson

But whether film collector or archivist. We all got one thing in common. We got lots of film!


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Small Gauge Film Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Advertising Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. VHS Video Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Audio Archive
Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Social Documentary Photography

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