In the 1920s film critics argued about the place of the written word within the moving image. In Photoplay Magazine 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 16mm reels reproducing a single hand-lettered card from the movie Daddy Long Legs (1919). In twist endings, zooms reveal the card’s place in the world. Title cards are traditionally non-diegetic (existing outside the setting of a movie). 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, 1925

Title  Card Reel 2 (left) and Reel 3 (right), 16mm film, 2014

Title  Card  with Fence, digital video, 2014