Oscar Film Unit shot a number of films over a period of decades – most of them on 16mm, with a few on 8mm and video.
There are obvious challenges to preserving and exhibiting these films; not least the fact that our former home, Lecture Theatre G, has been thoroughly remodelled. Both our Fumeo projector and the film reels themselves were given away some years ago.
In around 2003, we began a project to attempt to save some of the films by converting them to digital video. This was on a best-efforts basis using the technology available at that time. Coupled with film damage occurring as a result of less-than-ideal storage conditions, the preserved shorts are not of particularly high quality. However, they do give a flavour of university life spanning four decades. Highlights include RAG week films from 1967 (in Battersea) and 1969 (in Guildford); footage of the Stag Hill campus under construction; and the Manor House Beer Festival in 1979.
As part of the preservation project, we also home-produced a DVD containing about 12 short films, mostly silent.
Frustratingly, we have no record of how many films OFU made over its lifetime, nor where they have ended up. We know of at least one film that didn’t make it into our collection (as we didn’t have a print of it available) – Boy With A Moon And Star On His Head, described here as:
“a deeply moving interruption of the Cat Stevens song … Robert Lenk should take most of the blame.”Colin Edwards
We are also led to believe that OFU contributed a segment to the BBC for broadcast on the night that ITV’s first station, Associated-Rediffusion, launched in 1955 (which is also how we know that OFU is at least that old).
The earliest surviving films in this archive were shot in the mid-to-late 1960s: the authors of this blog do not claim to have any ownership or creative input vested in these films.