Island pub owner hopes to share old films with new audiences
Guy Taylor, owner of pub The Stork Club on the island, is an avid collector of reel-to-reel films. He owns hundreds of them and hopes to share them with audiences young and old.
What types of films do you collect? I collect feature films, comedy short subjects, travelogues, newsreels, serials, cartoons, trailers, cinema adverts; almost anything that was shown in movie theaters. I am interested in all genres of film, especially old movie musicals from the 1930s with actors like Eddie Cantor, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Alice Faye, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I am also very fond of the old comedy short subjects.
What about the projectors? I have about 25 movie projectors, including a hand-cranked 35-millimeter projector. I became interested in film projectors when I was a little boy and my parents gave me a toy, hand-cranked projector as a Christmas present. It came with six or seven, two-minute clips of old movies and cartoons featuring John Wayne, Tom Mix, Popeye and Felix the Cat.
Tell me about the film conventions you attend. There are several film-related conventions held across the country, but only one that is dedicated to film and projector collecting. It is called Cinesea and is held in Wildwood, N.J. Those attending buy, sell and trade films and movie projectors. In Syracuse, N.Y., the Cinefest is held each year in March. The main focus of Cinefest is the film show itself. For four days, numerous old and sometimes very rare films are screened. Many are being shown to an audience for the first time in decades. While some are from private collections many are on loan from film archives such at the Library of Congress, the George Eastman House, the Museum of Modern Art, and the UCLA film and television archives. Sadly, 2015 will be the last Syracuse Cinefest as they have decided to retire the event after 35 years. I have already made my reservations to attend. It will be my third year in a row to be in snowy Syracuse in March.
Why do you prefer this format over digital format? To me, there is something very special about watching movies on real film as opposed to digital formats. I think that it is a sad thing to see the demise of 35-millimeter projection in cinemas across the country. Film more closely captures the natural look of light and shadow. Digital storage on disk is just a cheaper way to store motion picture information. The image on digital storage is comprised of a rigid, unyielding grid of tiny squares; film is more detailed. Having grown up watching movies this way, I enjoy the sound of the projector clicking 24 times a second as each frame of film is momentarily stopped in the film gate; the flickering light shining across a dark room illuminating the screen; the occasional scratch and splice only add to the charm of watching an old movie.
What are your plans to screen the movies to area audiences? While I have done public screenings of films at The Stork Club in the past, I am currently looking at the possibility of putting on some regular screenings in Galveston at a larger location in the future. Watching movies is a much more enjoyable experience with an audience. I think watching a real film show will evoke nostalgia in older audience members and perhaps a retro-cool thing for the younger ones.