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George Eastman Greeting SMPE Meeting

00:00 Introduction by Kathleen Connor, Curator, George Eastman Legacy Collection
00:49 [George Eastman Greeting the SMPE Meeting]

George Eastman Greeting SMPE Meeting (US 1930)
Filmmaker: Unidentified
Participants: George Eastman
Production company: Eastman Kodak Company

Release date: 7 May 1930
Original format: 35mm
Sound: variable density
Color: b/w
Length (in feet): 105 ft.
Length (in reels): 1
Running time: 48 sec.

Preserved by Film Technology
Digitized by Eastman Film Preservation Services

This film is the only known footage of George Eastman speaking. He was invited to attend and give welcoming remarks at the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPE) convention, held at the Wardman Park Hotel, Washington DC, May 5–8, 1930. Eastman could not attend, but offered to film his introduction instead. Speaking for the first time before a microphone boom, Eastman took several takes to record the brief speech, finishing only when he was sure that he had one that he liked.

As a guest speaker, he was in good company. The Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers for June 1930 mentions the banquet given on May 7 and lists the members of the motion picture community who attended. Among those who gave addresses were William DeMille, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and other Academy members including M. C. Levee, Milton Sills, June Collyer, Glenn Tryon, Anita Page, Dorothy Jordan, Eddie Nugent, and Peter Mole. The Journal noted, “Addresses of welcome were also delivered through the medium of the sound film by H. L. Clarke, George Eastman, H. B. Franklin, J. E. Otterson, D. Sarnoff, and H. M. Warner.”

This film is part of the early history of sound in motion pictures and a testament to the durability of that technology. The film’s variable density soundtrack can still be played on modern 35mm film projectors. A 35mm nitrate print of this film was projected in the museum’s Dryden Theatre on April 30, 2016, as part of the 2nd Nitrate Picture Show. The clip presented here provides a further view into the production and includes some off-camera comments from the production crew at the start and finish of the take.