IU’s Carolyn Guss “Meets” Edward Feil in 1956

As I have mentioned in my previous blog posts, my summer has consisted of inventorying and researching the Edward and Naomi Feil Collection here at Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive. Just last week, I moved from inventorying the films to wading through the papers in the collection. At first, combing through the papers didn’t seem that enticing of a task because inventorying the films had proven to be such a fascinating and moving experience for me not only as a media archivist but as a human. I have been given the chance to examine the artistic process of a filmmaker whose passion burned so hot with his love for cinema that even his home life seemed like a film set. He could even make something like a cashmere factory look cinematic.

That being said, I moved onto the papers anyway and I was proven wrong. The papers gave me an even more detailed look into the world of Edward and Naomi Feil. Ed kept many interesting things that will ultimately prove to be equally as beneficial in understanding why he became a filmmaker and how he made his films. He also kept some of the correspondences he had with academic institutions who were interested in either purchasing or renting his educational films. This proved to be quite serendipitous for us here at Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive because some of these correspondences connected Edward Feil directly to Indiana University’s Division of Library Science in 1956. Below in chronological order are the correspondences between Carolyn Guss who was the Associate in Selection, Audio Visual Center, LaVern Walther, an assistant professor within the Divison of Library Science and of course, Ed Feil.

   img091On April 21st, 1956, Ed wrote to Lavern Walther explaining that he had been informed by phone that the Division of Library Services here at Indiana University was interested in purchasing a print of a film made about libraries, The Winged Bequest. This film centers around the services libraries can offer to help the handicapped and those who could not leave their homes to go the library.

Six months later on October 11th, Carolyn Guss wrote Ed Feil wondering if he could send the library a copy of the film to preview at no extra cost:

 

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Eleven days after that on October 22nd, Ed proceeded to send Carolyn Guss an audition print of The Winged Bequest for preview:

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On November 20th, Carolyn sent Ed a telegram to inform him that the print was being returned and that the library had to delay their purchase since the decision was still pending:

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Upon reading the telegram, I was saddened by the response from Carloyn Guss knowing that The Winged Bequest was and still is a film that speaks for the handicapped and the wonderful services libraries can offer for them. Then I realized that even though the final correspondence between Carolyn and Ed seemed to be missing, I could check IUCat and see if the film was in the audio-visual collection here at Indiana University. There it was! We had the answer all along!

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-By Rob Anen

‘THINK’ing About the Feil Collection and the Importance of Home Movies

Issue of Business Screen magazine on films at the World's Fair found in the Feil Collection.
Issue of Business Screen magazine on films at the World’s Fair found in the Feil Collection.

Last week I mentioned that the research we are doing on the Edward and Naomi Feil Collection here at Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive has lead to the discovery of something very unique within their home movies.  First, a short back story; as a graduate student of NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program, I had the opportunity to visit the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia back in February. On the last day of our five-day tour of the campus, my cohort and I were treated to a screening of a restoration of a very unique film that debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, Think. The film was created by the famous designers and artists Charles and Ray Eames for IBM’s pavilion at the World’s Fair. It was exhibited on nine screens in the same theatre. There are two versions of Think, the 1964 version and the 1965 version. We saw the 1965 version in February and it’s a film you don’t forget. The 1964 version has been difficult to reconstruct due to the fact that no record exists of how it was exhibited. 

0141122016da0bf3e91ff9c2a5c85218df272ffd64Within the home movies of Edward and Naomi Feil exists footage from the 1964 World’s Fair. Ed never put his camera down and that included when he went into the theatre to watch Think. Thanks to Ed’s penchant for filming everything we now have three minutes of the 1964 version of Think as it was shown in the theater. Ed Feil spliced all the reels he shot from the World’s Fair in sequence as he did with every trip he went on. I noticed the footage right away when I was inspecting the reel because the Ektachrome color reversal at the start of the reel changed to a black and white Kodak stock. I would bet my life on it that Ed knew about the film being shown at the World’s Fair and intended to shoot footage of the film as an eternal lover of cinema.  As evident when watching the entire reel, the black and white portion in between the rest of the Ektachrome had a much higher ISO.  Ed changed the film in his camera while he was still in the theater, films another thirty seconds or so on the Ektachrome reversal and Think becomes muddled due to the lower ISO.

As soon as I noticed this unique footage, I contacted George Willeman, the Nitrate Vault Manager at the Packard Center and he exclaimed that “the big deal with this home movie is that it is (far as we know) the only footage of the 1964 version of Think. He also went on to say that this home movie “is going to make us re-think our restoration!” I am beyond thrilled that the work we are doing here at Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive is leading to exciting and pivotal discoveries such as this. 

Original label on the can the "Think" footage was found in.
Original label on the can the “Think” footage was found in.

Lastly but not less important was the discovery of what may be the most endearing home movie ever filmed by any person ever. Ed and Naomi Feil got married in 1963 and went on their honeymoon to the Bahamas. Much like his official productions, Ed went into this with a vision and edited together the most beautiful cinematic love letter to Naomi. Ed saw no line separating his official productions and his home movies. Ed composed this film the same way we composed the rest of his productions and set the film to music.  I cannot wait to make this accessible to you all one day. As evidenced by my blog posts there are many exciting things to come with the Edward and Naomi Feil Collection. 

Original can, screen shots and tail of "Honeymoon."
Original can, screen shots and tail of “Honeymoon.”

– Robert Anen

Traveling Around the World with Ed and Naomi Feil

Robert here again:

Last week I alluded to the fact that Ed Feil was not your average filmmaker. He put great care into every production he made for Edward Feil Productions and the same went for his home movies. As early as 1939, Ed was making his own productions at home on 8mm, editing them and creating his own title cards. By the time Edward Feil Productions began in 1952, with the production materials at his disposal, he was shooting all of his home movies with his family and friends on 16mm film. By the 1970s, with his clap board in hand, he was recording sync sound on magnetic track at family gatherings.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Ed and his family traveled all over the world and by the looks of it, filmed everything. Here at the Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive we have in our possession hundreds of feet from many exotic places: Paris in 1945, Vienna in 1946, Mardi Gras/Miami in 1954, Las Vegas in 1956, Hong Kong/Rangoon/India/Afghanistan in 1956, Milan/Venice Florence/Rome/Capri/Switzerland in 1959, the Bahamas and Denmark in 1963, both New York World’s Fair 1939/1964, Mexico in 1967, Bermuda in 1969, New York and Puerto Rico in 1972, and Disneyland in 1970/1979. All in color. This doesn’t even include the countless family events that Ed has filmed over the years, some have a matching magnetic track.

Based on our in-progress work on the Feil’s films, home movies make up roughly 15% of the Feil Collection. Truth be told, we have only just started to inventory this collection and these are the gems we have uncovered.  I consider myself incredibly lucky to have the ability to work on such an exciting collection to work on.  Not only does this collection contain industrial films that span many decades and multiple professional fields but well-crafted home movies too.  We aren’t talking about disparate, 100-foot reels of 16mm home movie footage. Ed had the foresight to splice together all of the reels from a given trip in chronological order, number the reels and sometimes insert titles card for changes in destinations such as this one seen below:

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In the case of this still taken from Ed’s time in Italy in 1959, Ed shot a few hundred feet of each destination he went to within Italy: Milan, Venice, Florence, etc. and then with the extra shots he had left over, he edited together a travelogue. This was not the first time he did this. We also possess an edited travelogue of Ed’s time in Asia in 1956. In that case, pieces of leader with the change of country are supplied in between each 100-foot reel of Kodachrome. He hadn’t yet elevated his home movies to the production level of his Italy trip.  By the late 1950s and into the 1970s, Feil home movies all retained a similar form. The first reel of every trip begins with the family getting on a plane, a shot of the pilot in the cockpit, the takeoff, the landing. The last reel of the every trip ends as same way, with the Feils once again getting on a plane headed for home, a shot of the cockpit, etc.  Every trip spliced together in sequence for our viewing pleasure. Here are some quick pictures I snapped with my iPhone from our Steenbeck:

Italian Countryside, Milan, 1959

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Las Vegas, 1956

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Next week we will take a look at more of Ed’s home movies and how the inventorying of this collection has led to Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive assisting the Library of Congress in research for a restoration they are working on.

-By Robert Anen

Meet Our Summer Intern Robert Anen!

Hello! My name is Robert Anen and I’m a graduate student who’s currently enrolled in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Moving Image and Preservation program. At the moment I am halfway through the program and as a requirement, I have to intern throughout the summer. This has landed me here at Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive. This week marks my fifth week here and I have five more to go.  While I’m here I will have a chance to witness the inner workings of a moving image archive for the very first time in my career. Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive has also moved into a beautiful new space on the ground floor of the Wells library so it shall be a new experience for both the archive and me.

Here I am working on the Edward and Naomi Feil Collection:

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I have been assigned to the Edward and Naomi Feil Collection while I’m here. Edward Feil created Edward Feil Productions in 1952 and continued to make films into the 1990s.  From the more than three hundred film reels we have already inventoried here at Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive, we can tell you that Ed has made films for multiple industries since the creation of his production company. These industries include the surgical field, mechanical engineering, dental, nursing, the librarian field, fashion, art, gerontology, and municipal development.  

Edward Feil Productions was based out of Cleveland, Ohio and towards the late 1960s Ed’s wife, Naomi, was involved in the filmmaking process. She researched, wrote scripts, starred in, filed the copyrights and later went on to edit some of Ed’s films. Though the collection is far from being completely processed, from what we already know, Naomi‘s involvement helped shape the direction that Edward Feil Productions would move in as time moved on.

Naomi Feil is a social worker who is still active today and helping people all over the world. In fact, that seems to have been the mission of Edward Feil Productions, help people. Naomi developed a method to communicate with people who have Alzheimer’s disease called The Validation Method. This led to many successes for the Feils and a number of the films that Ed created for his company involve Naomi using the Validation Method on elderly patients.  

This is just a very brief overview of the discoveries we have made as we work on the Edward and Naomi Feil Collection here at Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive.  I’m so fortunate to be part of this archival family.  I will be posting more updates in the near future on the Feil Collection and the many goings on here at Indiana University Libraries’ Moving Image Archive. Until then, I will be enjoying this gem of a town, Bloomington, Indiana.