Rare Short Film from 1969 Examines Teen’s Life in the Pruitt-Igoe Housing District
Washington University Libraries’ Film & Media Archive has successfully completed the preservation of the rare short film More Than One Thing (1969). The project was completed with the support of a Basic Preservation Grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF).
More Than One Thing, directed by Washington University MFA student Steven Carver, tells of the dreams and aspirations of Billy Towns, an African American teenager growing up in the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing project. The film features gorgeous black and white imagery of Pruitt-Igoe and the surrounding environment, as well as the personal reflections of young Billy via narration. The Archive houses the only existing prints of the film, donated by the filmmaker. The preservation project resulted in the generation of a 16mm duplicate negative, 16mm full-coat magnetic track, 16mm negative optical track, 16mm composite print, a digital HD transfer, and a Blu-ray access copy.
Footage from the film was used extensively in the award-winning documentary The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (2011). The newly preserved film will be featured as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival in November 2016.
Carver went on to a successful career in filmmaking and photography, directing such movies as Big Bad Mama (1974) and Lone Wolf McQuade (1983). Carver now owns and operates Image Studios Lab & Darkroom in Los Angeles.
Access copies of More Than One Thing also will be available for loan to outside institutions to screen the film for educational purposes.
About the Film & Media Archive
A unit of Washington University Libraries, the Film & Media Archive collects, preserves, and makes accessible documentary film and other media that chronicle political and social injustice of the 20th century and beyond with an emphasis on the African American experience. The Archive also preserves the documentary filmmaking process in its entirety through the acquisition of production elements and supporting materials, such as original filmed interviews and outtakes, rare stock footage, photographs, producers’ research and notes, treatments, scripts, storyboards, and correspondence.
The Archive holds 6,500,000 feet of film, 1,300 linear feet of manuscripts, nearly 20,000 videotapes, over 10,000 audiotapes and reels, and a significant library of books, CDs and DVDs.
The Archive was established in 2001 after the Libraries acquired the collections of Blackside Inc., the largest African-American-owned film production company of its day. Founded by Washington University alumnus Henry Hampton, Blackside produced films on civil rights, democracy, and the arts, including the award-winning series Eyes on the Prize.