This post is long overdue, but I wanted to share some highlights from my six-month stint as a moving image archive intern. It’s been nearly a year since I first started archiving, and I still can’t believe my luck in finding (much less landing) such a convenient position. I was fortunate enough to work in a library that boasts an impressive collection of Paramount and Pathé newsreels from the first half of the 20th century, with topics ranging from everything under the sun. As an undergraduate at the time, working hands-on with nitrate and acetate film is something I wouldn’t have expected to be doing unless I enrolled in a graduate program. Another bonus: I didn’t even have to commute that far.
For a while, I have been under the bewitching allure of Buster Keaton and his films, and it is one spell that I feel cannot truly be broken. I have since immersed myself into every film, book, and photo I could find relating to Buster, and through it all, I’ve surprisingly learned a few things about myself. For starters, the unruly path that I faced while trying to sway among various creative fields of study weighed heavily on me for a few years, until a light started filtering through the dense overgrowth that is my mind. The things I wanted to study became clear to me because of him, and I realized that I didn’t have to give up my passions in favor of another. Rather, they formed a perfect amalgamation. Most of all, who knew that the small plucky man in the porkpie hat could be the one to help me further understand what I consider to be the deepest complexity of my life?
Lon Chaney and I have something in common: we are both hearing children of deaf parents. In the Deaf community, we are simply referred to as CODAs, an acronym for “Children of Deaf Adults.” As a prominent actor of the Silent Era, Chaney’s upbringing is something that has somewhat-recently come to my attention and is one that keeps tugging at me for more acknowledgment. As a result, I was compelled to look more into how that might have influenced his renowned career of the silver screen.
For my “History of American Cinema” class, I wrote a (brief) research paper regarding the impact of the coming of sound on the American film industry.
Picture this: a dappled array of lavender wildflowers and golden poppies lie sweetly in the sun; thick green trees overwhelm the middle-ground and dot all the way back to mountains bathed in atmospheric hazy blue; white puffy clouds float lazily in the pristine sky. This scene belongs to that of a large painting, nestled in the corner of a room under its own spotlight. Entranced, I walked up to it, letting its vibrant color wash over me. I couldn’t help but feel a strange pull towards this specific painting. My eyes started wandering over to the equally-important placard, where it provided the scintillating information that the painter was deaf. I could feel my heart soaring high above the summertime pastoral scene.
For the final project of my “Contemporary Poetry” class I took this past semester, I had to compile my own anthology. Since I am studying both film and English, I naturally went with the theme of film in poetry.