(as told to Felicia Feaster)
Skip Elsheimer, 40, is a Raleigh, N.C.-based educational and industrial film collector and founder of A/V Geeks (www.avgeeks.com) who travels the country showing his films. He'll present a selection from his collection July 6 at Eyedrum.
These films that I'm showing are mostly from the late 1960s, early '70s. But my collection goes back to the '30s. I would say there are around 19,000 films in the collection. What I try to do is put together these shows that share common themes. And this show I'm doing at Eyedrum not only shows some of my favorite films, but I picked from my favorite films ones that have what I consider to be either really catchy or really annoying songs. There's a film called Crash Bang Boom from 1970 which is all about percussive instruments. There's Drugs Are Like That, a drug film from the late '60s.
What's so great about a lot of these films is that they're aimed at kids, and so when adults sit and kind of mull them over, lots of strange things start appearing. There's all this underlying sexuality that shows up that people start picking up on, and stuff that just doesn't seem appropriate right now for whatever reason. Hindsight gives us the ability to really look back and say, 'Oh, that's wrong, that's way wrong.'
Films from the '50s and '60s fascinate me because they are these little cultural histories. The particular type of films that I really like that might not have mass appeal are ones that really look at a specific industry or a specific profession. One of the films I'll be showing in Atlanta is called Shake Hands With Danger from 1980. It's made for people who work on Caterpillar heavy equipment and it's a really great film. It's a safety film and it's made for a very specific audience and group, so I get to see into their little world and I like that, that kind of ephemeral, very specific person, very specific place, very specific time. I like looking at stuff like that.