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Amateur Movie Making

Aesthetics of the Everyday in New England Film, 1915–1960

edited by Martha J. McNamara & Karan Sheldon

foreword by Alice T. Friedman

contributions by Dino Everett, Libby Bischof, Justin Wolff, Whit Stillman, Karen Gracy, Charles Tepperman, Jennifer Neptune, Christopher Reed, Christopher Castiglia, Brian Jacobson, Martha White, Melissa Dollman & Janna Jones

Indiana University Press
Initial publish date
May 2017
General, History & Criticism
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price

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A compelling regional and historical study that transforms our understanding of film history, Amateur Movie Making demonstrates how amateur films and home movies stand as testaments to the creative lives of ordinary people, enriching our experience of art and the everyday. Here we encounter the lyrical and visually expressive qualities of films produced in New England between 1915 and 1960 and held in the collections of Northeast Historic Film, a moving image repository and study center that was established to collect, preserve, and interpret the audiovisual record of northern New England. Contributors from diverse backgrounds examine the visual aesthetics of these films while placing them in their social, political, and historical contexts. Each discussion is enhanced by technical notes and the analyses are also juxtaposed with personal reflections by artists who have close connections to particular amateur filmmakers. These reflections reanimate the original private contexts of the home movies before they were recast as objects of study and artifacts of public history.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Martha J. McNamara is Director of the New England Arts and Architecture Program in the Department of Art at Wellesley College. She is author of From Tavern to Courthouse: Architecture and Ritual in American Law, 1658-1860 and editor (with Georgia Barnhill) of New Views of New England: Studies in Material and Visual Culture, 1680-1830.

Karan Sheldon is cofounder of northern New England's moving image archive, Northeast Historic Film. She has curated screenings including You Work, We'll Watch and Exceptional Amateur Films and given annual lectures in Regional and Nontraditional Moving Image Archiving for the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, Rochester, NY.

Editorial Reviews


An invaluable contribution to the study of previously overlooked nontheatrical films, Amateur Movie Making is a welcome addition to the overall field of media studies. Its focus on the everyday aspects of the material culture of the past along with its highly accessible and engaging writing will appeal to experts and non-experts alike.

Society for Cinema and Media Studies Best Edited Collection Award Committee. (2018 award winner)


[I]t is the love of cinema that shines through in these essays and the films themselves, making this book a must read for all of us.

UCLA Film & Television Archive

At first blush, Amateur Movie Making's subtitle, Aesthetics of the Everyday in New England Film, 1915–1960, might suggest a narrowly defined field of inquiry with limited appeal to a broader audience. But readers would be remiss to dismiss such a delightful and expansive volume that resonates far beyond the realm of amateur film. One of Amateur Movie Making's greatest strengths is its addition of materials that animate the films in surprising ways.

Journal of Cinema and Media Studies


Amateur Movie Making is Visual History at its best.

Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television

Other titles by Charles Tepperman