November 9, 2020

Image: A film still showing some puppies (SPRA 1974.74.22N, Fonds 138: Griff James fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Today’s Movie Monday features a second film from the Griff James fond. This film was taken circa 1965 and includes footage of a man and woman playing with puppies, riverboating (and the loading of a boat), a cabin being built, races at Wapiti Ski Hill, and fishing.

Griff James recorded many of his activities and interests on 16mm film. This type of film was introduced with the Eastman Kodak Company’s amateur movie camera, the Cine-Kodak, in 1923. The camera was bulky, boxy, and cranked by hand, but it made filmmaking accessible to hobbyists and professionals alike. What made the Cine-Kodak special was perhaps not the camera itself, but the width of the film it employed. Rather than the usual 35mm film (which was alarmingly flammable), it used 16mm film made of noncombustible plastic. Amateur filmmaking flourished, and 16mm film continued to be widely used by hobbyists until the 1940’s. At this point, professionals still preferred the 16mm film, but amateurs were turning to the less expensive and more portable 8mm film.

The invention of 16mm film, and subsequently 8mm film, changed the way memories were preserved. Together with journals, letters, and photographs, home movies became a way of documenting both the ordinary and extraordinary moments in the life of a family or individual. Today, these film collections are a treasure trove for archivists, researchers, and history enthusiasts!

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