This time to say, we survived your “decency” inspectors!
I have wondered how some of our found footage (especially the skinny dipping party) got past processing inspectors without being confiscated. It was very common to simply not return photos or film deemed indecent.
By today’s standards it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. But back then, two women kissing may have meant you never got your film back from developing. (It was necessary to send pics and movies off for chemical developing at large labs) Older audience members have come up after screenings to explain how they got their stuff past inspection. Lab inspectors would look at the beginning and end of a reel but didn’t have time to watch the whole thing. Our queer pioneers knew this, and made the heads and tails of their films very heteronormative but felt safe shooting displays of affections in the middle of a reel.
So now I get the honor of sharing this history not only in Rochester, NY where many of the film’s came for developing but at the Eastman Kodak House itself. Deep down I hope there are queer ghosts in the audience. Once I get to Milwaukee I’ll explain a bit about how we found some of these films and get permission to use them.