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Clemson brings back traditional movies to the big screen this fall

Katie Bradham, Photo Editor

Last year, Clemson University purchased its own film reel projector to be used in-house at the McKissick Theater located in the Hendrix Student Center. 

Bringing history from the cinema onto the campus, Clemson’s world cinema department has announced two screenings of original 35 millimeter reels this fall.

This semester’s film series is tentatively set to include two 35 mm print screenings: “Singin’ in the Rain” on Nov. 14 and “It’s a Wonderful Life on Nov. 16. Dates and screenings are subject to change due to availability, according to the department.

With the two screenings lined up for this semester, the goal is to host at least one 35 mm screening per semester.

Brodie Blizzard, a senior world cinema major and organizer for the series, explained the process of obtaining these highly sought-after reels, and how truly special these screenings are to casual viewers and cinephiles alike.

How the artifacts find their way to McKissick Theatre

The prints are secured through a film licensing company that distributes artifacts to universities and theaters across the country. Swank Motion Pictures Inc. represents some incredibly recognizable production companies, including Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Walt Disney Pictures.

The organization has a selection of reels used in movie theaters at the time of the films’ original release dates, but this selection is limited as a result of the shift to digital streaming.

Then, once a team of students and faculty compile a selection of films they are interested in for the semester, they contact Swank and begin the ordering process.

These reels rotate through colleges with schedules booked for years in advance. This process can become incredibly tedious, especially with the more popular titles.

Just this past semester, Clemson had to opt for its second-choice option, Alfred Hitchcock’s ”Rear Window”, due to scheduling challenges. Despite obstacles, the screening was still a success with one of the largest turnouts for any film event put on by the department.

The financial and organizational dealings of the process are handled by the department chair, John Smith, and other faculty members, but students are given creative liberty in selecting each showing.

For his spring series, Blizzard was able to choose the general theme of the series. He opted for a true celebration of film, with showings of all styles to appeal to the widest audience.

Last year, Clemson University purchased its own film reel projector to be used in-house at the McKissick Theater. The projector was originally owned by Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida in the 1960s, having been used by Epcot for various showings.

While the University has its own equipment, Clemson hires a reel operator to run the projections for the screenings. Steve Newton of Cinevision in Atlanta, Georgia ran the most recent screening.

35 mm prints generally come in sets of five or six reels. Each reel holds an equal portion of the film’s run time. As one reel nears its end, the reel operator must switch the next reel into the projector seamlessly to keep the film running.

Clemson’s world cinema department, founded in 2009, is among the fastest growing at the University. However, due to its size, it faces many limitations in networking even within the campus community, according to Blizzard.

Students organize these campuswide events to bring awareness to the program and celebrate the love of film all world cinema students share. 

Most of the department’s connections come from faculty members’ unique personal connections to the industry, according to the department.

Many directors, production workers and film festivals have presented on campus, and many exciting new presentations are in the works for the coming semesters.

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