Centers: Film Study Center

Film Collections

The Yale Film Study Center has more than 5,000 film prints and negatives in its collection, many of which represent the unique original materials of filmmakers. A few of the collections within the larger Film Study Center holdings are profiled below. For more information on any of these collections, please contact Archive & Special Collections Manager Brian Meacham via email.

The Mary Ellen Bute Collection

Pioneering animator Mary Ellen Bute made a number of innovative and widley distributed abstract musical short films, including SYNCHROMY (1933), TARANTELLA (1940), COLOR RHAPSODIE (1948), and ABSTRONIC (1952). She studied stage lighting at Yale, and in the 1950s, made the move to live-action narrative, with the film THE BOY WHO SAW THROUGH (1956), an award-winning short film that marked the debut of Christopher Walken. Beginning in 1965, she made the feature length film PASSAGES FROM JAMES JOYCE'S FINNEGANS WAKE, an ambitious adaptation of Joyce's novel that combined live action and some of her signature abstract imagery. After her death in 1983, the Film Study Center acquired original negatives, production elements, and screening prints for much of Bute's work, including her later, unfinished films THE SKIN OF THEIR TEETH, based on the work of Thornton Wilder, and OUT OF THE CRADLE ENDLESSLY ROCKING, about Walt Whitman. With support from the National Film Preservation Foundation, the Film Study Center preserved both THE BOY WHO SAW THROUGH and PASSAGES FROM JAMES JOYCE'S FINNEGANS WAKE in 2008-09. Scripts, correspondence, and photographs from the collection of Bute and her husband, cameraman Ted Nemeth, can be found in the Mary Ellen Bute Papers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.

 

The Nicholas Doob Collection

A native of New Haven, Nick Doob ’69 is an Emmy award-winning cinematographer who has worked on two Academy Award-winning documentary shorts: FROM MAO TO MOZART (Dir. Murray Lerner, 1979) and SMILE PINKI (Dir. Megan Mylan, 2008). Doob began his filmmaking career during the summer of 1967, taking a filmmaking course through the Free School of Union Square. His first film, PLASTIC SAINTS (1968) features footage from the March on the Pentagon, shot during a trip to Washington, D.C., Doob made with his fellow students. In 2015, Doob donated original elements from his student films and early professional work to the Film Study Center. In 2016, the Film Study Center was awarded a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to preserve PLASTIC SAINTS, COSTUMED DANCER (1968), and 42ND ST MOVIE (1968).

 

The John Griggs Collection

In April of 1968, a front page article in the Yale Daily News opened with the following line: “Yale has begun its own film archives by acquiring the Griggs Collection of Classic Films, Provost Charles Taylor announced yesterday.” Acquired with financial assistance from three alumni including Fred Beinecke, the collection consisted of more than 200 16mm prints, mostly American silent films, but with some twenty films made outside the U.S. and others dating from the sound era, that had been collected by John Griggs, an actor and film collector in New Jersey whose son attended Yale. Assistant Professor of Art History Standish Lawder was named curator of the collection, and Spencer Berger, another donor to the Yale Film Study Center, acted as advisor to the new “Yale Film Collection.” The Griggs Collection formed the seeds of the Film Study Center’s collection, and many of the prints from the original acquistion survive today, including THE GAUCHO (1927), pictured here.

 

The Josh Morton Collection

Filmmaker, television director, and educator Josh Morton was a member of the Yale College class of 1967, and continued his study in the Yale School of Art & Architecture after graduation. He began volunteering with the New Haven chapter of the Black Panther Party, and made his first film, BREAKFAST, about the organization’s free breakfast program for New Haven youth. He went on to help found May First Media, a New Haven-based media collective that documented protests and other events in the area, and directed the group’s best-known work, MAYDAY (1970). In 2016, the Film Study Center preserved MAYDAY and another Black Panther-related short directed by Morton and May First, PUPPET SHOW (1970).

 

The Frank Mouris Collection

Frank Mouris ART '69 was born in 1945 in Key West, Florida. After graduating from Harvard with a major in Architectural Sciences, he was accepted into the Graphic Design program at the Yale School of Art and Architecture in 1967. Once there, he found that more than half of his small cohort of graphic design students also had an interest in film. Led by a “Machiavellian graphic design chairman … [with] far-reaching ambitions,” as he put it in a 2010 interview with Animation Reporter, Mouris began making films using a homemade animation stand in the university’s Chemistry Department. Mouris’s films QUICK DREAM (1967) and YOU’RE NOT REAL PRETTY BUT YOU’RE MINE… (1968), as well as CONEY ISLAND EATS (1967) and CHEMICAL ARCHITECTURE (1968), both made with co-director Peter Schlaifer, were the result of assignments in courses at Yale. In 1975, his ground-breaking autobiographical animated short FRANK FILM was awarded the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. In 2014, Mouris donated original elements for his earliest films to the Film Study Center, and with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation, Mouris's first experiments with his signature style have been preserved on film.