I find that broaching the subject of industrial film often brings up more
questions than answers. For example, what is "industrial film?" How broad
is this genre (or subgenre)? Does it describe films about production
processes, training films, and records of manufacturing, or does it also
encompass the hundreds of thousands of films produced by manufacturers to
promote their products, naturalize their corporations in the public eye, or
express corporate points of view? As fas as I know, no one in the U.S. has
addressed this problem, at least in the past forty years or so.
Until the seventies _Business Screen,_ published ten times a year by Ott
Coelln out of Chicago, was the trade journal of industrial and sponsored
film. As the genre became subsumed into the even more nebulous area of
"corporate video," the journal slowly faded away until it was acquired by
_Backstage_ and disappeared. There are ample periodical references between
the 1920s and 1960s, and many books on how to produce, sell and distribute
industrial films, but almost no recent scholarship seems to exist.
Access to industrial films is probably best achieved through the excellent
American Archives of the Factual Film at Iowa State University. A portion
of their catalog and background information is available on the net. AAFF
also holds paper records from many important figures in the field.
My archives holds several thousand (and perhaps many more) industrial
films. It's accessible to scholars, limited only by availability of time.
Write me for more information.
I have tried to address the obscurity of industrial films with my new
CD-ROM series, _Our Secret Century._ The first four volumes will be in
stores within the next week or so, and the remaining eight will be
available later this year. The series contains 100 films, about 40 of which
could be characterized as "industrial," with ample background information,
program notes and collateral materials.
For further information, email me or visit Voyager's website at
430 West 14th Street, Room 403 / New York, NY 10014 USA
212 633-2020 / Fax: 212 255-5139
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