The Fourth Annual Oregon Film History Conference Oregon’s Minor Cinemas took place on May 4, 2018.
The conference was supported by University of Oregon Libraries, Oregon Film, Oregon Film Museum, Dark Horse, and James Blue Alliance.
Click here to see a list of participants and find an initial draft of the program here.
The Minor Cinemas: Newsreels I, by Ben Truwe. Truwe used A. C. Allen (1875-1972) as his case study. When A. C. Allen arrived in Medford in 1904, he was not a filmmaker. In 1915, he brought his first film, Grace’s Visit To The Rogue River Valley, to the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.
The Minor Cinemas: Newsreels II, by Worth Mathewson. Mathewson spoke about William L. Finley, the first Oregon independent writer-director-producer to receive international distribution, sold newsreels to Pathé. He wore other hats as well – Larry Lipin wrote about Finley’s Good Roads advocacy (work he shared with A. C. Allen) in Oregon Historical Quarterly.
The Minor Cinemas: Newsreels III, by Ellen Thomas. Thomas’ talk covered Oregon’s earliest independent filmmakers and their legacies. Portland’s appeal as a commercial film center began in the early 20th century when the city’s rail connections, varied scenery, robust theatre community and other resources combined to launch careers for local filmmakers and develop audiences for locally made films. What role did newsreel filmmaking in particular have in this setting, and how did those who made them shape the industry going forward?
The Minor Cinemas: Home Movies, by Monte Wolverton. Wolverton spoke about his father, Basil Wolverton (1909-1978). Basil Wolverton grew up with the movies. In home movies made after he had achieved national success as a print cartoonist, he paid homage to the silent comedy he saw in his youth. Born in Central Point, Oregon, Basil Wolverton grew up in Vancouver, Washington. In 2014, Fantagraphics released a biography of his father, Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life and Comics of Basil Wolverton.
The Minor Cinemas: Industrial Films, by Sheldon Renan. Renan gave a presentation on Douglas Engelbart (1925-2013). On December 9, 1968, Douglas Engelbart gave a demonstration of interlinked personal computers to the Association for Computing Machinery/Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in San Francisco. The demonstration, videotaped by a young technophile named Stewart Brand, became known as The Mother of all Demos because of the shockingly huge number of innovations unveiled within it. Engelbart graduated from Franklin High School in Portland in 1943.
The Minor Cinemas: Experimental Animation, by Dennis Nyback and Anne Richardson. The Oregon Cartoon Institute co-founders teamed up for this talk on Will Vinton (who was present at the conference). Will Vinton transformed Oregon film history when, after winning a 1975 Oscar for the animated short Closed Mondays, an honor shared with co-creator Bob Gardiner, he returned to Portland to open his own studio. Hundreds of Oregon artists, animators and non-animators alike, were inspired by Vinton’s independence and success. Dennis Nyback will give a rapid fire tour of downtown Portland theater history, explaining how and why Closed Mondays came to be discovered in a tiny art house theater on SW Taylor. Anne Richardson will discuss the way a key assist from a vestigial remnant of Portland’s silent era filmmaking infrastructure supported Will Vinton’s emergence as an independent film entrepreneur.