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From the Archives

'Stop daydreaming': Public service films and bizarre ads from the Ireland of decades past

See the Howth Tram which went out of service in 1959, an etiquette announcement on how to behave properly in church, and the bizarre public information film called Love and Money.

HOW’S THIS FOR a tourism ad:

… so it is in our own interest, to welcome our friends the tourists; to tidy up the countryside, to brighten our towns, our shops, and homes, so that as they say farewell, they resolve to return next year, to the hearts they left behind.

The above is an excerpt from a two-minute animated advertisement, called Beau Guest, made in 1956 in order to explain the many benefits of tourism to the Irish economy.

It hilariously compared the ‘welcome’ Celtic warriors gave Vikings to the red-carpet-roll-out that visitors got – and in an attempt to really show people how important tourism was, equated it to the all-important Irish agriculture sector.

giphy IFI Player IFI Player

The Irish Film Institute (IFI) Archive have recently made short films like this one available to watch for free on their new IFI Player.

It also features advertisements, home videos and media reports on the player, including a look at the Howth Tram which went out of service in 1959, an etiquette announcement on how to behave properly in church, and the bizarre public information film called Love and Money.

Sponsored by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, the film which is set in Dublin city, tells viewers to ‘start saving and stop daydreaming’ or your relationship might fall apart.

Screenshot 2016-09-30 at 10.46.45 Still from Love and Money. IFI Player IFI Player

Kasandra O’Connell, Head of the IFI Irish Film Archive, has been dreaming of a ‘virtual viewing room’ – now the IFI Player – for the past 10 years. She’s passionate about the work that she and her team do, and says that the new IFI Player will show the real extent of their work, which can be “very laborious”.

“We have film in all types of formats – from home-movie tapes, to broadcast quality-type reels, to digitally-formatted films. We have to make sure that a reel is in physically good enough condition to digitalise.”

Whereas with film all we need is a light to shine through the reel, when we digitalise something, we have to make sure it is prolonged so that it can be opened on any device in the future.

Reel-y exciting 

Of course, she says the work can be extremely exciting and rewarding too.

“We’ve been launched for two weeks now and the feedback is better than we could’ve ever imagined – and from all over the world.”

giphy (1) IFI Player - Radharc: Manners in Church IFI Player - Radharc: Manners in Church

She says that the most exciting part of the project is the restoration of 8,000 damaged rolls of Irish television advertisements – some that go back as far as the 1960s.

“One of the team said that if you laid out the film end to end, it would stretch from the IFI [located in Temple Bar] to Stokestown.”

The rolls of film were damaged by mould while in storage on an off-site facility, but recent funding through the BAI means that they will be restored, digitised and uploaded to the IFI Player.

There are three people working full-time at restoring the advertisement film, while all 15 members of the IFI Archive pitching in to help with the IFI Player.

New material will be uploaded at the end of every month – with no end in sight for the project.

Funding the IFI Player

When asked about funding for the Player, O’Connell says that 25% of their funding comes from the Arts Council, and doing things “as economically as we can”.

“We’ve always found a way. It’s through our partnerships and the commercial side of the IFI – through ticket sales for films and events - that keep us going, but it can be very difficult.”

The IFI Archive relies on donations from the public to give them the material they preserve – they also have a partnership with the Irish Film Board and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

In the past 10 years they have accumulated 30,000 canisters of films, and 15,000 public service broadcasting film, as well as documents such as production notes.

O’Connell says that the real beauty of film is the ease of communication and the connection it creates to the past:

The moving image is so democratic, so visceral. I can show a video to someone and I don’t need to say anything, you’re just automatically transported back in time and connected to a different period.

Read: Italian police have found two priceless Van Gogh paintings stolen from a Dutch museum

Read: Controversial Piss Christ photograph of Jesus in urine will be displayed at Irish art show 

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