Tag Archives: reels

The Films of My Father

When I was a kid my dad was a film maker. Not of the Hollyweird sort, he made educational films. I still remember one of his films being shown in my grade school and giggling when I saw myself used as an extra.

16mm Movie Film
Oxygen, Barr Films, 16mm Movie Film

Zoom forward and I’m working on documenting obsolete technology for an art project. I’d been photographing some reels and canisters I’d acquired by digging around junk shops.


I was pretty happy with the direction the project was going when it occurred to me: … hey my dad made movies and must have some of them still! It would be more of a tie in.

People-Who-Work-with-People, Barr Films

So that’s my ongoing personal project, still in progress.

Oxygen, Barr Films, 16mm Movie Film

Technology Straight from the Scrapheap

Recently I’ve started a new art project. For much of my life I’ve been fascinated by technology.  And where and when I grew up was a lucky coincidence. San Jose in the 1970’s and 1980’s was in the fledgling days of Silicon Valley.

Historic Garage Where Silicon Valley Was Born (Michael Halberstadt)
Historic Garage Where Silicon Valley Was Born (Michael Halberstadt)

We had an Apple II at home and I’d play Castle Wolfenstein, Swashbuckler, or Prince of Persia for hours claiming to my parents that studies proved such games improved hand-eye coordination.

 (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt)
The “Apple Garage” (Photographer: Michael Halberstadt)

So in any case, I stumbled upon a bunch of old movie film boxes at a thrift store located at a garbage dump. I was fascinated by the aesthetics of the whole package: the weathered exterior cardboard boxes, the handwriting, the labels with dates facts and figures and the film itself.

35mm Movie Film Canister
35mm Movie Film Canister

The metal canisters are all stamped with different patterns based on the film manufacturer. And the chrome has worn off where they were handled over the decades.

16mm Movie Film Canister
16mm Movie Film Canister

I think they were all at a commercial German TV station: Werbefunk Saar was on one of the labels. And the handwriting on all the boxes looks like the same.


And the film itself when viewed from the sides reveals interesting patterns.

I’ll keep you posted here and on my other sites for updates.