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Mapping an Alternative Film History: The Amateur Movie Database Project

Date & Time:
October 25, 2017 | 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The Calgary Institute for the Humanities presents a talk by Charles Tepperman, Mapping an Alternative Film History: The Amateur Movie Database Project

Wednesday 25 October 2017 | 3.00PM | Bio Science 561 Charles Tepperman Poster

Long before YouTube revolutionized the distribution of non-professional motion pictures, a movement of amateur filmmakers created an alternative world of small-scale movie production and circulation. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, amateur filmmaking consisted of more than rough home movies: it also included polished and accomplished fictional, documentary and experimental works. From the 1920s to the 1970s, local, national, and international organizations emerged to promote and advance amateur filmmaking activities, and in doing so created an alternative film culture distinct from the profit-oriented mass culture of the film industry.

The Amateur Movie Database (AMDB) was launched in March 2017 and marks the first systematic effort to trace the scope and extent of amateur moviemaking in North America. The Database currently includes information about more than 1600 films, and provides a valuable tool for researchers and archivists. In collaboration with several archives, we have located many of the films in the database and continue work together in order to draw attention to other unheralded amateur works. This lecture will provide an overview of the AMBD project, a tour of its web interface (, and some reflections on next steps for the project.

BIO: Charles Tepperman is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Film at the University of Calgary. Tepperman has published articles on early cinema in Canada and on non-theatrical film culture and technology. He is the author of Amateur Cinema: The Rise of North American Moviemaking, 1923-1960.

The lectures are free and open to the public. A reception will follow and all are welcome. 

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