From Edison's turn of the century kinetoscopes to modern-day streaming video on the Internet, moving images have recorded history, provided entertainment, documented daily life, and informed us about our communities and the world. When discussing film and video, we often first think of Hollywood films and national television, but there are numerous other types of moving images that provide us with important historical information about our lives, communities, and cultures. In this activity, students will discover a piece of film or video in their community and present it to the class. This activity targets TEKS objectives in Social Studies Grades 7 through 8, United States History Studies Since 1877, and Social Studies Research Methods.
Teacher and students discuss film and video as a source of historical information using the TAMI video library and the TAMI Guide to Moving Image Genres, making sure to address home movies. The end result of the conversation should be an understanding of the different types of film and video that exists outside of Hollywood feature films and nationally-produced television. Suggested discussion questions:
- What kind of moving images do we encounter on a day to day basis?
- What kind of moving images have you (the student) encountered in the last few days?
- What information can moving images give us?
- Why might a home movie be a source of historical information?
- What kind of information might be unique to home movies?
- Would a home movie be considered a primary or secondary resource?
- How would an archival film, like those on the TAMI website be different from moving images we normally encounter?
The activity can be done individually or in groups.
Students are asked to select a 1 minute segment from a home movie or other local film and present the film to the class in a show-and-tell method. If students are unsure if their family has home movies, they can also inquire with their extended family, neighbors, and friends for materials. They can also choose a film-produced by the school or a school media class, a film or video from a local library/archive or a film from TAMI’s video library. The teacher should specify the formats that can be played in the classroom. Students should investigate and answer to the best of their abilities:
- Who produced the film?
- Who was the intended audience?
- Where was the film shot? When was the film shot?
- What is happening in the film?
- Why might this be of historical interest?
- How is this film representing the culture of the producer or the place, person, or thing being filmed?
- How does this film represent the landscape, community, region, state, or country where it was filmed?
- How does it represent the producer’s community, region, state or country?
Optional: Have students present their information on the film by creating a brochure that other students can go over while the film is played. Brochures should be clear and informative but not overly wordy or cumbersome.
Have students take notes on the films presented and then write a response paper using the following scenario.
- A Texas history archive has contacted your school looking for films to include in three new exhibits. The first exhibit features moving images shot in the state of Texas. The second is an exhibit of moving images filmed by Texans while in other states or countries. The third features moving images from people who recently relocated to Texas showing the traditions and cultures they brought with them. Write a letter to the museum advocating for the inclusion of three films from the presentation that would fit into these three categories. If you are unable to find a film for each exhibit, propose an additional exhibit and the inclusion of a film that would be representative.
The Texas Archive of the Moving Image is constantly taking submissions for its online library of Texas-related film and video. Submit copies of the fictional proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org for possible inclusion in the site. A TAMI representative will reply with more details on participating.