Photos of Stan

Photos of Stan

L_ is sitting on a stool scanning photos for the Stan Watkins documentary. Family albums are spread out on the couch and the best pictures are being recorded. Difficult to do on a big scanner as the pages don’t come apart, so a hand scanner is being used. Time consuming and probably most will not be used. But at least we have them.

Four years ago my sister MaryAnn and I met in Los Angeles to spend two days at the Warner Archives looking for any photos we could use. We took along a hand scanner I bought in the UK, but we weren’t allowed to use it.

The Archives was staffed by a nice young man who hadn’t come across Stan Watkins before; but as we had called ahead, he had extricated several cardboard boxes from the masses that Warner Bros had deposited in this building, part of the University of Southern California. A huge collection, but unfortunately none of it had been labeled or cataloged.

MaryAnn and I slogged through box after box, and actually found very little of interest. Lots of documents about legislation and business dealings. What we wanted were photographs that had our father, Stan Watkins, in them, or the equipment used in the early days of sound films. There were dozens of duplicates of the stars and film sets, but they were not what we wanted.

Eventually we sorted out a few that I asked to be copied and sent to us. One of the items was very damaged, and I later found I had a clean copy at home. The total cost was just over $16. I paid that and waited.

And waited. Eventually I wrote to ask where the photos were and then had confusing and unnecessary correspondence with the office that organized the dispatch of requested items. They wanted $250 for each photo! I insisted I didn’t want any actor or film photo, merely those technical ones of my father. They wanted to know on which page of my book (!) the photo was to appear and I said we didn’t know that yet. So I waited. And waited. Four years on I am still waiting.

img001 (2)I don’t have the photos. And they still have my $16.

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Vitaphone on camera

December 5th was a great day for fans of Vitaphone short films. Ron Hutchinson of the Vitaphone Project screened on the Turner Classic Movies TV channel 24 hours of continuous Vitaphone shorts. These wonderful old classics have been collected and restored by the Vitaphone Project over many years, and this marathon showing, interspersed by Ron Hutchinson chatting with Ben Mankiewitz, was a first. Sadly I was unable to watch being still in London, but I’ve been reading the enthusiastic comments on Facebook of those fortunate enough to have watched this historic event.

My enthusiastic friends, David Wyatt and Malcolm Billingsy, at the Cinema Museum invited me to be videoed talking about my father, Stanley Watkins, and his part in the development of Talking Pictures. That was fun, although I’m sure I left out lots of important stuff when I roared off on a tangent, as I am wont to do.