One of the great things about being a collector is the community we surround ourselves with. Other collectors are who we turn to when we need information on an item that we know nothing about but just have to have, when we need to sell precious pieces from our collection but want it to wind up in a good home, and when we are looking to track down a new addition. Many of these fellow collectors become friends and I’m privileged to have many friends who share my geek passions.
This article is the first in an ongoing series featuring fellow collectors (and friends) with great collections. I think it is a great way to share their knowledge and help the collecting community. First up, fellow Minnesota monster kid, Timothy Price.
Tim is a man of many talents; a professional musician with multiple albums to his credit and published author of the fun rock and roll meets dakaiju series Big in Japan. Like me, Tim is a 1970s monster kid. Unlike me, he has a very specific collecting focus on 8mm and Super 8 home digest monster movies. I’ve seen his collection and it is impressive. Tim does more than collect, however. Through his Spook Cinema screenings, he shows his film collection at conventions like G-Fest and fan events across the country. He is a true ambassador for the 8mm film format and his enthusiasm is absolutely contagious!
All of us Monster Kids from the 60s and 70s remember ‘Super 8’ monster movies fondly, but give us a primer on the history of this format. What is the difference between 8mm and Super 8mm?
Initially known as Cine Kodak Eight, 8mm film was developed by Kodak in the early 30s to provide an alternative to the 16mm format. Although regular 8mm was originally intended for creating home movies and such, condensed versions of theatrical releases were also available on the format.
Super 8 was introduced by Kodak in 1965. Both standard 8mm and Super 8 are 8mm wide. However, Super 8 has smaller sprocket holes (than regular 8mm) to allow for a larger film cell within each frame. Super 8 soon became the format of choice, and many commercial small-film-format companies (like Ken Films) opted for Super 8 Stickers on their 8mm boxes as opposed to reprinting them.
Is there a difference between 8mm and Super 8 in terms of collectibility or value?
That’s a great question, and being that I lean more towards Super 8 (primarily due to my age), I can’t say if there is or is not a difference for collectability. For instance, my digest of Godzilla – King Of The Monsters is regular 8 (Film Office, France) and the only other commercially-produced print I have ever seen (in the 8mm format and from the same company) was a 50-foot version, and there is NO WAY I was going to wait around to see if a Super 8 version surfaces. There were countless commercial small-film-format companies (the same way there are countless companies and divisions of studios that currently put out DVDs and Blu-Rays) so it’s hard to know what could be floating around out there. But I do know when I come across a film (be it 8mm or Super 8) that I’ve never seen before, it’s indeed rare, and personally I don’t care if it’s regular or Super.
You do a lot more than collect home digest films; in fact, I consider you one of the biggest proponents of this film format with your writing, your Spook Cinema events and even your Facebook page, Collecting Super 8. What motivates your active passion for home digest film?
George, I just love it so much. I love keeping it, and the spirit, alive. My friend Jeff passed away when we were still monster kids due to heart disease. As a matter of fact, the last time I saw Jeff, I was in the hospital with a broken leg, and when he came to visit me, he gave me the 50-foot digest of TARANTULA! (He and his mom picked it up at K-Mart on their way over.) So Jeff has a lot to do with it too. And as you know, my eldest is named after him.
Has your collecting focus changed over the years or have you always had a specific focus?
Lately, I’ve been streamlining my collection to be about ALL of the monsters I loved as a kid. Everything from Ray Harryhausen to classic Universal, George Pal, Kong and of course, kaiju. However, most of my attention tends to gravitate towards my 8mm films. At last count, I had close to 500 commercially-released digests (condensed film).
What is the prized piece (or pieces) in your collection?
As far as films go, most of my prized films were never available in the US when we were kids, so they don’t tug on your memory strings like those wonderful Ken and Castle Films do. With that being said, my rarest films (again, not released in the US) are Godzilla – King Of The Monsters, Godzilla VS. Megalon, King Kong (1933), War Of The Gargantuas, Doctor Who and The Daleks, and Invasion Earth 2150. These are all cut-down digests, however, I do have one full-length, Super 8 feature that is next to impossible to find, the Red Fox release of Gorgo. Truth be told, they’re all becoming quite rare.
What advice can you share with someone who is interested in getting started as a home digest film collector?
Get acquainted with other collectors. I have to say, we have a great bunch of folks on the Collecting Super 8mm page on Facebook with years of knowledge and experience to help guide you along! That, or join a forum online. Trust me, if you join one and post that you’re a beginner and interested in collecting film, you’ll get bombarded by folks eager to help. I’ve yet to meet any 8mm snobs. I think we’re just way too geeky, so we can’t afford to make anybody mad.
Besides the obvious (eBay, Etsy, etc..) are there places you recommend for finding these films?
Believe it or not, there are STILL a few wonderful little companies out there that cater to the small-film-format enthusiast. Some offer films, projector supplies and even projectors themselves. (Do a Google search.) There are also 8mm forums on the net with lots of sellers (and buyers) on the forums. My page, Collecting Super 8mm, as well as many other fine pages on the topic are all over Facebook. Estate Sales, Garage Sales, Thrift and Antique Shops are ALWAYS fun! (Like a lot of us, I LOVE the hunt!) And, truth be told, eBaycan be a great resource for films. Still, the best place EVER to get ANY film has to be from Captain Company! (kidding)
My only advice about eBay is primarily focused on projectors. The majority are from sellers who find them at garage and estate sales and are simply re-selling them. Captions like, “Machine turned on and bulb worked. But I have NO Film to test it, so it is being sold as is,” those are usually a gamble. However, if it’s cheap enough, sometimes you just have to roll the dice! But try to look for projectors that are listed as REFURBISHED.
Monster Kids are a creative, artistic group as a whole and you are no exception! You are a musician, writer, and all around creative guy with lots of Monster Kid content under your belt. What are you working on now that we can look forward to?
I’m so very fortunate to make my living as a both a musician/guitarist and an author. I play out (primarily in the Minneapolis area) quite frequently, be it solo instrumental guitar or with various projects and bands. I currently have a few irons in my musical fire at the moment, including two new CDs (more on that later). I’m also knee-deep into my third novel, which, oddly enough is about a group of monster kids who stumble across something strange, sinister and deadly! It’s very near and dear to my heart and the working title is “They’re Coming To Get You Timmy.” Of course, my series “Big In Japan” (the ongoing saga that pits rock stars against daikaiju) is still doing well and available on Amazon as well as my website.
Big in Japan by Timothy Price
You can also find Tim on Facebook at his Musician/Author Page
- Current listings for Super 8mm monster movies on eBay
- Current listings for 8mm monster films on eBay
- Current listings for Super 8mm movies & projectors on Etsy (US)
There you have it, readers! Let me know what you think of this interview format and if you’d like me to feature more collectors and their collections here at Collecting Classic Monsters!