Give Now

Profiles Interviews

“Ephemeral Films” Collector Rick Prelinger and the Alloy Orchestra

Andy Findley interviews film archivist Rick Prelinger and David Carter speaks with the Alloy Orchestra, a trio that performs music to accompany silent movies.

Top: Rick Prelinger in transparent-framed glasses and dark blue shirt. He has white hair. Bottom: Three men, members of the Alloy Orchestra, in casual shirts

Photo: Adam Schwartz (top); Josh Brewer/WFIU

Rick Prelinger/Alloy Orchestra

Home movies are closer to authentic evidence than anything I’ve ever seen. . . .  Home movies are cinema for me now. I hardly watch anything else. – Rick Prelinger  

Rick Prelinger is a collector of “ephemeral films”—advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur movies saved from oblivion.

He founded the Prelinger Archives, a collection of 60,000 films that date from 1903 to 1990, which is now held by the Library of Congress. A subset, the Prelinger Collection, consists of 6,500 films and is available on the online Internet Archive for free viewing, downloading, and reuse.

Prelinger is the author of The Field Guide to Sponsored Films and he frequently speaks on archives-related issues. He is associate professor of Film & Digital Media at the University of California.

The Alloy Orchestra is a three-man musical ensemble founded in 1991 that writes and performs accompaniments to silent films of the silent movie era.

Using a “rack of junk” that includes of scrap metal, found objects, and homemade instruments, as well as electronic synthesizers and traditional percussion, wind, and keyboard instruments, the ensemble produce a wide range of soulful music and evocative sound effects.

The group has released four collections of film music and has toured both North America and Europe in support of cinematic shows.

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Profiles:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Profiles

Search Profiles