Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

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mwalls

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Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostWed Apr 26, 2017 5:30 pm

I am planning a silent film screening in a little over a month and am asking for some advice. This will be my first screening and I would like it to go over very nicely, as I would like to do more. It is being held at a local Piano Gallery, that has a setup in their showroom for piano events. This is the first time silent films will be shown there, and they are excited about the idea. Between my silent film group and the regular piano patrons, I am anticipating about 30 – 40 people.

I am hiring a local piano player, who does have experience accompanying silent films. I am bringing my DVD projector and a good sized Da-Lite screen. I am putting together a program that I am going to have printed at Office Depot or Staples or some place. There is no charge to attend but I will be asking for donations to help cover the cost.

I would like to show a short and a feature. The feature I would like to do is Steamboat Bill, Jr. I was planning to download from Archive.org to a DVD but someone told me the resolution would be too low to project decently. Does anyone have any advice about that? For the short, I would like to show Mighty Like a Moose. I plan to contact Kino for permission. My concern is that they will either just ignore the request because it is so small, or on the other hand charge a decent amount. I am doing this on less than a shoestring budget (I footing the bill minus any donations), so I am trying to keep the costs down.

I know many of you have screened films and have attended lots of screenings and are very knowledgeable. Can I get some advice on the above and anything else you can think of?

Thank you,
Matthew
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Donald Binks

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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostWed Apr 26, 2017 6:17 pm

I don't know if in America you have something similar to what we have in Australia - A Federation of Film Societies? Such an organisation can be very helpful in getting you on your way - especially as to whom to contact for gaining screening rights. They also could have negotiated a special fee for societies too which would be much cheaper than the normal.

As to resolution? It depends on how away from the screen everyone is. It is far better to look for at least 720dpi as the minimum (normal DVD) - although you could get away with 480dpi if the the screen is small enough.

To me the most important part of a silent film show is the actual presentation. Not many people look to this and I have seen instances where films are shown in 16:9 format! Try and get the room as dark as possible when the picture hits the screen. I don't know whether you have curtains available to put in front of the screen - but if you do, this further enhances the presentation when they are opened at the main title.

As I am doing a similar thing to what you are doing, next month, perhaps you may care to PM if you have any other questions?)
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Hamilton's Grandson

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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostWed Apr 26, 2017 6:32 pm

I have been trying to do a similar event in my area in the Pacific NW. The two theatres that I have met with wanted written details on copyrights for the two films that I was trying to show on their equipment that projects DVD-R or Blue Ray on to their big screen. One film is 1928 MGM and the other 1926 NBC Universal. Both are studios are listed as using Swank Productions (503 area code) for copyright permission to show the film whether it be to the public or at the theatre in a 4 hour rented private screening. I have yet to hear anything back from Swank this month, but they have several forms to fill out on their website which allows them to determine the copyright fees. The theatres have not given me any information on what the costs are but hinted that they could be high.

Hope that helps,
Dana
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mwalls

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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostWed Apr 26, 2017 7:11 pm

Donald/Dana,

Thank you for the response.

The screen is a decent sized screen, but maybe small enough to mask some lack of resolution. I will experiment with that a bit. I see that Archive.org allows different formats to download. That might help.

Absolutely agree about presentation. I do plan to produce a nice program/brochure. I am going to get a repro poster of SteamBoat Bill that they will allow me to hang in the window of the showroom a couple of weeks before the event. I was thinking of holding a drawing for the poster. I also want to give a very brief opening talk. I don't like to know anything about a film before watching it. There should be a number of people in the audience who have never seen Steamboat (or even a silent film), so my program will be more facts about the stars than talking about the films. And the same thing about the talk I give. And I do plan to keep it brief but enough to get the audience warmed up. Any thoughts about what might be interesting to say to people not familiar with silents?

Sunset on the day I am presenting is at 8:32. I plan to start the event then, and after I talk for a little bit hopefully it will be dark enough to get a decent projection. It certainly will be for the main feature. The showroom has windows on two sides, so blocking out light is not an option.

As for the rights to Mighty Like a Moose, Kino might just ignore my request. All I need is DVD, and for such a small gathering and no admission, it probably does not pay for them to respond. Then, I don't know where that leaves me. I have never heard of anyone who helps with negotiating. I did get a quote from Flicker before. They were very prompt and friendly.

Donald, I will PM you so we can compare notes.

Matthew
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostWed Apr 26, 2017 7:30 pm

Thanks Matt,

Good information. The theatre's I have dealt with are very cautious as they should be about allowing things to be shown even if the DVD's are available on line and in public domain. One theatre owner used some very bad language to describe what she felt about the studio's greed for money from copyright fees nearly 90 years after their films were first shown. I still respect the process involved with the studios and the musicians that score the rereleases.

Good luck with the program and keep us posted on the results.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostThu Apr 27, 2017 8:43 am

To Hamilton's Grandson re Swank:
Are they still in business? I had a lot of business with them, but over 20 years ago. Since you're not getting any response, you might want to check with Warner Bros. non-theatrical distribution, who would be the owner of the MGM title, and the same with Universal. You might need to deal directly with the owners.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostThu Apr 27, 2017 1:27 pm

If you are showing a film studio's film that is post 1923 and still under copyright by them, you will need to obtain their permission, or you will be paying much much higher in attorney fees to defend yourself in court against them if you do it without permission. And they are not practicing greed. ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDER, be it individual or corporation, OWNS that film you want to show until that copyright runs out, that's how that works, be it for film, music, book, TV, play, etc.. Many heirs survive on that copyright you don't want to pay for. Even orphan films are usually owned by someone, you have to track down the copyright holder, and that can be difficult even for studios.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostThu Apr 27, 2017 6:09 pm

Missdupont,

Absolutely agree. It is my intent to follow the rules to the letter. It is my understanding that SteamBoat Bill is public domain. I will supply my own music. I do not intend to use a Kino release for any possible entanglements regarding restoration claims, etc. In the end I will have a substandard print to project, but I don't see any other option financially.

What may be doable is to see if Kino will allow a DVD projection of the short "Mighty Like a Moose", possibly for a small sum given the size of the audience and no admission charge. But, if Kino charges a larger sum or simply ignores the request per one of the reasons above, that leaves me without a short to show. If "Mighty Like a Moose" does fall through, does anyone have a suggestion of a good PD short I can show, and source for a decent DVD print?

Thanks for all of the suggestions,
Matthew
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostFri Apr 28, 2017 9:53 am

Thanks Miss Dupont for the input.

I was referring to the theatre owner's opinion on the "studio's greed" and should have put this sentence in quotation marks. I am also carefully researching the copyright rights and you made a good point about how difficult it can be these days to track down the exact owner of these rights.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostFri Apr 28, 2017 11:09 am

I know Milestone used to have distribution rights for purchase on their website in the hundreds of dollars range for feature films, usually for classroom use.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostFri Apr 28, 2017 11:10 am

All of the Chaplin Keystone, Essanay and Mutual shorts are Public Domain. (The First National ones are technically PD, but the only versions easily available are re-edits that Chaplin assembled in the 1950s and later. The Chaplin Estate will send you a letter if they see you are showing one of his later films.)

All of the Keaton shorts from 1922 and earlier and all of the Harold Lloyd and Langdon shorts are public domain. None of the Laurel AND Hardy shorts are PD, but most of their solo comedies are.

Mighty Like a Moose is copyrighted. If you could show a Blackhawk 16mm print of it, this would be allowed because the film prints are licensed for "non-theatrical" use. Most of the Hal Roach Charley Chase films are copyrighted, but there are a few where the copyright was not renewed.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostFri Apr 28, 2017 2:52 pm

Thanks MalieJandra and Bruce,

I will check out Milestone. Maybe they have some possible shorts for reduced fee. And thanks for giving me all of the suggestions of the shorts for Keaton per 1922 and Harold Lloyd. I am not very familiar with them but will look into them to see if I can find very popular ones and also ones that I can find a decent print.

I have thought about film. I have a 16mm projector but no silent film. For future shows (hopefully there will be), I will ask around to see if I can "rent" a few to show. I know there is a beautiful Steamboat Bill Jr on Ebay right now.

And thanks for the tip about Mighty Like a Moose being copyrighted. I checked late last night around the internet and found nothing, and then looked on Silentera and noticed that the copyright claimant was unknown. That gave me a glimmer of hope that it was PD. Glad you set me straight before I headed down that path.

Matthew
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostFri Apr 28, 2017 9:49 pm

Harold Lloyd's Number Please? (1920) (available from Milestone on "The Cook and Other Treasures") and Get Out and Get Under (1920) on David Shepard's Slapstick Encyclopedia are two excellent Harold Lloyd 2-reelers.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostMon May 01, 2017 6:27 am

silentfilm wrote:Harold Lloyd's Number Please? (1920) (available from Milestone on "The Cook and Other Treasures") and Get Out and Get Under (1920) on David Shepard's Slapstick Encyclopedia are two excellent Harold Lloyd 2-reelers.


Also Buster Keaton's "One Week" (among many others) is wonderful and a real audience pleaser!
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostWed May 03, 2017 4:27 am

I would NOT download STEAMBOAT BILL from Archive.org. Most of their material is not the best video quality. There are FAR better quality DVDs available either from your library system or from Amazon.

Not sure about your state, but here in Ohio we can search online through our local library websites to scour many other libraries in the state for their holdings--which in most cases can be sent to your local library for check out.

As one who produced public film series over the years, I always did my due diligence to make sure what I showed were in
Public Domain.

Good reference sources for PD material listings:

http://www.reelmediainternational.com/classic.htm

http://www.buyoutfootage.com/pages/subt ... efilms.htm
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 2:16 pm

I held the screening last night and it went really well.

About twenty people came to the event. What surprised me was their experience with silent films. Before starting I asked for a show of hands how many people had seen a silent film before; expecting maybe half. I believe everyone raised their hand. But, I then asked how many of those who had seen a silent film had seen one with live music; again I figured half at most. But no. Just about everyone raised their hand.

The pianist was someone recommended to me by a member in my silent film group. So, I went into this last night not having heard him play. As it turns out, over the years he has done about 100 silent films and he was wonderful. He received a standing ovation in the end. The event was free with donations accepted, and I was happy to hand over all of the donations to him. He enjoyed himself and never actually asked for anything (he was just excited to play a Steinway), but he did appreciate the thought. He said he would be happy to play anywhere I do any other screenings.

For about half of the evening I was watching the audience trying to figure out if they were enjoying themselves, or bored, or any sign I could get. It was tough to tell. But in the end everyone was very upbeat and pleased and requested I do it again. The staff at the piano gallery also were requesting I do another screening. Sounds good to me :-)

I did a program to give to people before the screening and advertised my group. So far I have had three new member requests today. All in all, a very fun experience.
Last edited by mwalls on Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 5:02 pm

Thanks for sharing the results post event. I am still trying to put on a similar event once I get the copyright issues researched.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostSun Jun 04, 2017 6:06 pm

Thanks for letting us know. Nice to see people brought together like this.
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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostSun Oct 08, 2017 12:32 pm

Last night I screened Behind the Door at the Steinway Piano Gallery (same place that I did The Immigrant and Steamboat Bill before). The audience grew a little for this second screening and was very enthusiastic at the conclusion. As the audience was gathering I had on the screen slides of old “preview” slides. When I started my introduction I had brought an actual glass slide from “Subway Sadie” (1926) to show to the crowd what they had been seeing. I had printed some history of the restoration of Behind the Door in the program but added some points in my opening that I learned from the extra on the Flicker disk as well as the interview that Mike did with Robert Byrne on Nitrateville Radio (thanks Mike!). The same gentleman who accompanied the previous screening returned and this guy does a great job. He again had a line of people at the end to congratulate him. All in all a very fun evening and it went well enough that the Gallery hopefully will be interested in my coming back in a few months. Below is a photo of the screen from behind the piano.

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Re: Need Some Advice Please for an Upcoming Screening

PostSun Oct 08, 2017 8:08 pm

Congrats on a second success...most of us can only dream of being able to show real Silent Features to an audience, let alone have live piano accompaniment. I'm sure this must be a thrill for you as well as for all those involved.

Look forward to hearing about future showings.

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