8mm home movies
I’ve always been interested in photography, and over the last few years I’ve also become more interested in vintage photography, which was one of the reasons I started to collect vintage cameras and write this blog.
When I was a child my Father was also a photographer and as well as pictures he used to take 8mm home movies of us all. Showing the movies was a family event even more keenly looked forward to than the evenings viewing the slides, especially when, after viewing the latest film, he would switch the projector into reverse and show the films backwards!
When dad died a couple of years ago, I discovered all the movies he had made in a plastic box in the shed he used as a workshop. Unfortunately, rain had leaked through the roof and into the box and all the films were completely ruined. The only ones that we still had access to were a few which I had copied to video tape about 20 years ago by simply projecting them onto a screen and taping them.
Reminiscing about the films he used to make got me thinking about all the other families who must have done the same thing and I wondered what is happening to all the millions of feet of 8mm film that must have been shot over the last 50 years. I suspect the answer is that a lot of it went the same way as our family films, but it seems a fair amount have also ended up being sold on eBay as part of house clearances etc.
So, being interested in old photographic equipment, as well as being generally interested in social history, I decided to invest in a few of these films and a projector to show them. My initial investment was for £8 for a Eumig P8 Dual projector which can show both std 8mm and super 8mm films.
The projector I bought was a ‘sold as seen’ unit so I had no idea if it would be working or not; in fact the plug had been cut off the mains lead because the seller couldn’t safety test it. So when it turned up, the first job was to fit a plug to the lead and see if the unit worked.
I did some initial tests with a DVM to make sure that there wasn’t a short across the mains supply and also fitted a 3amp fuse to the plug before I first plugged it in, but once I’d convinced myself it was OK I connected it up and switched on.
I was pleased to find that the projector started buzzing, the motor started turning and when I switched the main switch to the ‘light on’ setting the bulb lit up and projected a nice square of bright light onto the wall. The only initial problem I can see it that the take up reel isn’t running. With the back off I can see there is a clutch arrangement on the take up spool which isn’t working so I’ll need to investigate that more fully.
For films I have invested in 3 Super 8 films which are all home movies:
- A Holiday in Paris taken in 1969
- A film of Yugoslavia with sound taken by a couple on holiday sometime in the 1960s
- The Scottish highlands in 1965
Each of these were only a few pounds on eBay. As long as you buy from auctions, the films don’t make huge sums of money – just steer clear of some of the ‘Buy it now’ sales which ask silly money for films. Although at the moment I haven’t been able to watch these, I’m looking forward to being able to soon, once I get the take up reel clutch issue sorted out.