Until the publication of Martin L. Johnson’s long-awaited book on local films, the best printed resource is probably The Moving Image, Volume 10, Number 1, Spring 2010, the Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (University of Minnesota Press). It contains among other valuable essays lengthy articles by Caroline Frick on Melton Barker and by Martin L. Johnson on “self-recognition and place-recognition in the local film.” Of special value is a preliminary filmography of North American local films compiled and edited by Caroline Frick. We drew on this source for many ideas in the essay included in the bonus materials for WE’RE IN THE MOVIES: PALACE OF SILENTS & ITINERANT FILMMAKING.
Although most local films have been lost, many also survive. Here is a sample:
1.) A collection of beautifully-restored films from the very first years of the 20th century by Mitchell & Kenyon have been issued on a DVD called Electric Edwardians (Milestone Films); many more of them are available from the U.K. on PAL format DVDs published by The British Film Institute.
2.) Albert Steg, who has collected many of Arthur J. Higgins’ films, created a very informative web page about them: http://www.mindspring.com/~asteg/Higgins/AJHiggins.html
3.) 19 Texas films by Arthur J. Higgins are online at: http://www.texasarchive.org/library/index.php/Category:Arthur_J._Higgins
4.) Many of the films of H. Lee Waters have been collected at Duke University, the North Carolina State Archives, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, and the University of South Carolina Newsfilm Library. A 19-minute documentary film, The Cameraman Has Visited Our Town, including an interview with the elderly Waters and many excerpts from his work is available online at http://www.folkstreams.net/film,115.
5.) A complete Waters film of Spindale, North Carolina in 1937 is here: http://www.filmpreservation.org/preserved-films/screening-room/spindale-1937
6.) His 1938 film of Great Falls, South Carolina, is here: http://mirc.sc.edu/islandora/object/usc%3A2587
7.) From the Paragon Feature Film Company (The Lumberjack) one may also view A Blissveldt Romance (1915) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQOiui2lySA
8.) From Donald Newland, the opening credits of Tyrone’s Hero are at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfK2vNvmwrE). Tyrone, Pennsylvania is about half an hour’s drive from Huntington; the complete film is available from the Tyrone Public Library.
9.) The Texas Archive of the Moving Image has created a website devoted to Melton Barker and The Kidnappers Foil at http://www.meltonbarker.org/. There it is possible to view sixteen iterations of Barker’s film in their entirety.
10.) A documentary about the 1915 local talent film The Man Haters is available from Ball State University, which also has an extensive collection of documentation about the film:
11.) A 1954 film by Shad E. Graham, Our Home Town: Doylestown, Pennsylvania is at: https://archive.org/details/OurHomeT1954
12.) The same site has Our Home Town: Levittown, Pennsylvania https://archive.org/details/OurHomeT1954_2
13.) Our Home Town: San Marcos, Texas is here: http://www.texasarchive.org/library/index.php/Our_Home_Town
14.) A 1936 film about Cordele, GA by itinerant filmmaker H. C. Kunkleman, dba Pacific Film Productions, is here: http://www.libs.uga.edu/media/collections/townfilms/cordele.html
15.) Music of the Ragtime Skedaddlers (Dennis Pash, banjo-mandolin; Dave Krinkel, guitar, and Nick Robinson, mandolin) is available on CD and for download at: http://ragtimeskedaddlers.bandcamp.com/
To read David Shepard’s complete essay on the history of itinerant film in America, order WE’RE IN THE MOVIES: PALACE OF SILENTS & ITINERANT FILMMAKING. WE’RE IN THE MOVIES celebrates the passion of do-it-yourself cinema. This unique Blu-ray/DVD collection features two documentaries never before seen on home video, When You Wore a Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose and Palace of Silents, as well as five bonus films from early itinerant and local filmmakers.