Title Card Reel 3
2014, 3 min, b&w, digitized silent 16mm film
In the 1920s film critics argued about the place of the written word within the moving image. Peter Milne wrote that conventional title card writing was a waste of space and, to make his point, referenced a studio practice of recording common phrases in thousand-foot reels to be doled out in snippets. Inspired by this form, I recorded two minute 16mm reels of a single hand-lettered card from the movie Daddy Long Legs (1919). In twist endings, zooms reveal the card’s place in the world. The words become diegetic with the zoom out, like voice-over becoming dialogue in a scene.
After a while we learned that many companies had these titles made up in thousand foot lengths as an economy in money and time and incidentally, in originality. And if the ‘That night’ title happened to be used up, a piece of ‘The next day’ title was used to meet the situation. Daylight savings meant nothing in those days
–Peter Milne, Photoplay Magazine, 1925
Title cards for The Silent Mystery (1918), The George Eastman House Archives, Rochester, NY, 2014