James “Jaime” Madden, Audio Archivest

I was on a plane thumbing through a magazine when I read a story about the man who discovered an old Jim Morrison film shot during his student days at Florida State University. I was interested in the story behind the find in the words of a professional archivest. I talked to Jaime and he agreed to this interview.

Is film your specialty? No, actually audio is my specialty. I had experience working with film and I put that to use in dealing with the material that made up the project we working with when the Morrison film was discovered.

As an archivist how do you approach the task of looking through hundreds of hours of tapes? We had well over a thousand films of various running lengths to view, describe, arrange and transfer as part of the project. Everyday I loaded the films unto a Steenbeck 1901 flatbed film editor and get to work. I would view as many films as possible in a single day making notations regarding film subject, shooting location, individuals involved, types of scenes, whether the film was silent or had sound, whether it was in color or black and white, who created the film, etc.

Which is most important? quality, content or style? Or all they all taken under consideration? The mission of the Florida State Archives is to collect, preserve, and make available for research historically significant records relating to Florida. Therefore we took into consideration whether the film had some lasting historical value to researchers. We focused mostly upon content as I mentioned earlier. So we were watching for locations, important Floridians, noteworthy celebrities, significant historical events, things of that nature as we described and processed the films. Some films were of interest because of their production style. Several of the films were created by the Florida Development Commission which was responsible for exporting the “visit sunny beautiful Florida” theme throughout the country and the world. Many of their films were shot with a certain style that represents the way Florida was perceived by others outside the state. While many of these films aren’t necessarily historically significant they are utilized quite frequently by film producers to represent Florida to their viewers. (Read the rest of the story)

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