Once you’ve gotten a hold of an 8mm movie projector, one important question remains: what do I do with it? One option, of course, is to use the projector for your own home movies. However, there are a number of different movies available that you can rent or even buy for your own entertainment.
As 8mm film was the inexpensive film of choice from 1932 to 1965, there have been a number of films produced in the format. Moreover, even though Super 8 film took over as the home-movie film of choice starting in 1965, that didn’t mean that 8mm films ceased to be produced. In fact, 8mm films continued to be produced in large quantities right until the advent of the VCR in the 1980s.
The primary thing limiting 8mm films is length. A standard 8mm spool only produces a film of about four minutes in length. As a result, 8mm film was never used for feature-length films. You’d spend more time rethreading than watching the movie. Instead, 8mm films tended to focus on three areas: comedies, children’s films and documentaries.
Because sound films were more expensive, one of the popular films to put on an 8mm projector were classic, silent films of the 1920s and 1930s. In fact, three comedy acts were released on 8mm film almost in their entirely. First, there are the films of Charlie Chaplin, who made a number of silent films. While his films usually take two reels of film or so, the complete collection continues to exist on 8mm. Second, there are the films of Laurel and Hardy. These silent comedies were extremely popular, and they were quite commonly purchased. Finally, there are the films of the Three Stooges. While these films are not silent, they were some of the most popular comedies available on 8mm.
8mm Children’s Films
A number of children’s films were released on 8mm, and they were very popular. I myself as a child remember watching 8mm children’s films that we had borrowed from the library. Between the fun of watching a film and seeing the workings of the projector, children loved them. There are a number of films available, such as Disney children’s short films and the Looney Toons. Many movies in the middle of the Twentieth Century had animated shorts, and those animated shorts were in turn released on 8mm.
Though they are now substantially out of date, 8mm films were often used in the classroom for showing documentaries to children. These documentaries can be on a number of subjects, from hygiene to Communism. Some of them can actually be quite entertaining. They are less readily available than the comedy and children’s films, because they were less commercially viable, but they can still be found with some digging.
Attaining 8mm Movies
8mm movies can be a little tricky to find, but it is not impossible. First, you can ask at your local library. For many years, libraries had entire libraries of 8mm films, and some libraries, loathe to throw anything out, continue to have them available for rental. If that doesn’t work, you can often purchase them online from specialist companies or even from online auction sites.