Since January 2022, when I received The Phantom of the Movies archives in toto, I've been very busy. My son and I quickly set up an off-site location, central to us both, where we could meet every week and get down to the business of sorting through not only Joe Kane's movie paper but my own collection. Cataloging all of it and getting high-quality digital scans of everything as we progressed. We started meeting every Friday at Noon and working until 7 pm or so. Seven solid hours for this one day per week.
We had become a well-oiled machine by July 2022
(6 months into this project). Utilizing our existing equipment and equipment explicitly purchased to document this addition to the archives. But, a few things took us by surprise.
Yes, of course, we would happen upon the occasional press kit or movie still that would get our collective hearts racing. Was this indeed an original Evil Dead press kit with handwritten notes on the backside of the stills? Perhaps.
Oh, well..we KNEW for a fact that Mark Borchardt's Coven (1997) stills were authentic. His or his gal's (at the time) handwritten notes were on the flip side of every still and were practically documented on screen in American Movie (1999). We were excited to pour over those Coven stills while the entire time, my son and I traded back and forth bon mots such as "It's a vertical business" and "Coven?..sounds too much like oven."
A good time was had by all, I assure you.
But then we would uncover something like this. A promotional photograph of Khigh Alx Dhiegh for his CBS series Khan! from 1975.
We had no frame of reference for this. But fortunately for us, there was a back story to it, which led us down a rabbit hole we were both okay with being led down once we got to the bottom of it. What the F**k was Khan!?
CBS had canceled their Planet of the Apes television series and replaced it almost immediately with Khan!
Although neither had any connections other than being featured on CBS.
The TV critics absolutely hated the show.
The episode they were allowed to review in advance, which so happened to be the very first episode, was not met with open arms. So vial was the critics' collective voice that CBS brass shuffled the playlist of episodes ( some four hours before air time) and broadcast the 4th episode first. All told, there were eight episodes filmed but only four Khan! episodes were aired in the United States. A year later, lucky Australians watching Channel Seven were privileged to see all eight episodes of Khan! during its 1976 run. This photographic proof of a television series that attempted to exist at a time when there were six strikes against it gave me cause to dig deeper and write about it. That article will be published sometime in the future.
So, there are items such as the Khan! marketing material that has made this digitizing adventure worth its weight in gold. I am a researcher at heart. I enjoy gathering information for other writers or individuals putting together magazine or book pieces or packages for a DVD or Blu-ray release. I rarely ask to be credited. It is always the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of uncovering some hidden nugget of info on making a movie that is the payoff.
Taking possession of this archive, I knew that I would need to upgrade my equipment for scanning high-quality images (8X10 stills, etc.). One thing I had not considered was the number of film slides present in the hundreds of promotional packages and press kits. In this collection, there were over 1,500 film slides (and counting.) So after buying a slide scanner from Kodak, I set about on a side adventure of digitizing these as well, which has uncovered some fantastic finds. Some of those I will share with you now.
Just a sampling of our side project into film slide scanning. This adventure into cataloging, documenting, and digitizing my entire archives is an ongoing project. The ultimate goal here is to provide everything in the It Came From Hollywood movie marketing archives to, at first, film journalists, and then ultimately, the entire collection will be made available to the public.
Eventually, I will move everything into a one-stop online site for film journalists to research film subjects and enhance their written works with visuals, absolutely free. That has always been my goal. To share what I have found with other individuals who share my passion for film research and discovery.
To be continued...