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Hoosier film archivist shares passion for projecting and restoring old films

Projecting and archiving Hoosier history in film
Projecting Old Films
Posted at 8:45 PM, Mar 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-21 20:51:47-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Oscars may be over, but it got us wondering, who saves the movies long after they've aired and gone out of the movie theaters?

WRTV’s Megan Shinn spoke with one man who's making a difference by keeping old movies alive and preserving Hoosier history on film.

It takes more setup and more effort to project and preserve these old-time films, but it's time worth taking to film historian, Eric Grayson.

Grayson collects films and projectors. You can call it a childhood passion he turned into work and that he shares with our community.

"A lot of guys that can run projectors. But people that know how the film works is a different story,” said Grayson.

He said, "The whole thrill of what I do is saying oh wow, here's something nobody's seen in fifty years. Here's something nobody's seen in seventy years. Here's something nobody's seen in one-hundred years let's share it with an audience again. I love that!"

From Newfields, to black and whites at Garfield Park, Grayson operates projects across town.

"Whoever calls me and says can we run a film? I'm usually there, I've got a trunk full of film equipment."

He brings old films to you, on sixteen-millimeter or larger.

"It's a collaborative thing with an audience. If the film works you can feel it. If it doesn't work, you can feel it," Grayson said.

Grayson makes sure you can feel movies together decades after film reel deteriorates.

"I'm doing a preservation for the Library of Congress on a movie called King of the Congo," Grayson said.

That's not the only film for the library of congress.

"Somebody came to me with a print of Little Orphan Annie from 1918,” said Grayson. "Our James Whitcomb Riley is in the film."

He's archived four films for the library of congress and a couple others that are now at IU.

"They came to me with the Milan High School films. Milan High School from Hoosiers, and they had this pile of films that smelled like an old locker room because that's where they've been for the last fifty years. Really,” said Grayson.

Call it a passion for flicks leading to work the community is grateful to see.

"If I don't do this, it's not going to happen, it's going to be in a trash can in two years and nobody's ever going to see it,” said Grayson.

Sometimes live music accompanies the movies Grasyon plays at screenings. The next vintage movie night is on April 8th.

Grayson's film schedule and other projects that could benefit you areonline.

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