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The preservation of rare vintage film from the 1928 – 1931 Mardi Gras

History is going blind!

The majority of film (movie & still) produced between 1911 and 1980 is dissolving into a goo of acetic acid. Eventually it all will break down rendering the priceless visual record of our past “LOST”.

I have been working for over 25 years to preserve our visual history to insure the remarkable events from our past will be around for future generations. The method of transferring film to a digital medium is not a perfect solution due to the fragile nature of digital files but it is a good step towards saving our visual resources.

I own a collection of movies that were found buried deep in a pile of crumbling boxes in a warehouse located in Houston Texas. Over 30 films were discovered with three (3) of them dealing with the annual Mari Gras celebration and the other 27 dealing with Texas subjects.

Untouched for almost 80 years these black & white 35 mm nitrate films of the 1928 – 1931 Mardi Gras in New Orleans were in remarkably good condition considering the warehouse was not climate controlled. At least one of the New Orleans movies was produced by Shopcraft films, a branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad promoting tourism for the region. The content of two films deals with the traditional Mardi Gras parade route and the people who participated dressed in full costume. The third film deals exclusively with the black street performers like the “Excelsior Brass Band” and “Baby Doll” dancers. As far as I know the film showcasing the black street performers is the only one in existence. It is a very rare part of early southern black history. Dr. Kim Vaz just completed her book “The Baby Dolls” that showcases these extraordinary women.

The length of these three films is estimated at around 16 minutes. It could be more or less depending on the overall condition of the films. Nitrate movie film is very unstable and very flammable. It tends to shrink over time requiring a very labor intensive recovery process. The restoration steps are outlined below provided by “Film Technology Company, Inc” out of Hollywood California:

Film to Film Preservation & Video Transfer

Labor- Film Prep & Repair

Film Cleaning

35mm Optical Duplicate Negatives

Wetgate Printing

35mm Film Transfer to Video

Digital Betacam Videotape

Conversion to Quicktime Files

Digital File editing & creation of a master copy

All donors will receive a copy of the restored film on DVD. All major sponsors will receive a copy of the restored films on DVD plus a set of 11 x 14 inch printed copies of selected film still frames. Examples displayed below….

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Once this project is complete the goal will be to find a museum or educational institution that can obtain and house the original movie film. Since the film medium (nitrate film) is very flammable special consideration must be given to keep the original film away from any heat source. Optimum storage would place the original films in a sub freezing environment or in a storage facility that has climate control to keep the temperature around 45 degrees…

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    8 backers

    History Friend: $25.00 level All contributors at this level will receive an edited copy of the restored Mardi Gras films on DVD

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    6 backers

    History Preserver: $50.00 level All contributors at this level will receive an edited copy of the restored Mardi Gras films on DVD plus a special mention in credits on DVD.

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    History Lover: $100.00 level All contributors at this level will receive an edited copy of the restored Mardi Gras films on DVD plus a special mention in credits on DVD. Donors will also receive a set of (3) 11 x 14 inch reproductions of selected single frame stills from the movie.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
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    History Saver: $500.00 level All contributors at this level will receive an edited copy of the restored Mardi Gras films on DVD plus a special mention in credits on DVD. Donors will also receive a set of (6) 11 x 14 inch reproductions of selected single frame stills from the movie.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
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    History Champion: $1000.00 level All contributors at this level will receive an edited copy of the restored Mardi Gras films on DVD plus a special mention in credits on DVD. Donors will also receive a set of (10) 11 x 14 inch reproductions of selected single frame stills from the movies.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships within the US only
Funding period

- (23 days)