Pilar Fotta Collection
At present, this collection consists of a 16mm print of the October 1936 H. Lee Waters "Movies of Local People" film featuring people from Boone, Appalachian State Teachers College, and Cove Creek. This 16mm print is believed to be a copy made directly from the original reel during the late 20th century by Paul Armfield Coffey (1934-2007). The original reel is also said to have been in Coffey's possession at the time of his death but was subsequently lost, along with thousands of photographs from the Watauga Democrat photo morgue, during the cleanout of his office/apartment in the old Watauga Democrat building on King Street in Downtown Boone, NC. This particular reel was rescued by Pilar Fotta from the Habitat Restore after some items from Coffey's apartment were dropped off there.
Additional items are expected to be added to this collection in the future.
Series 1: This series contains a 16mm print made from the original reel of the October 1936 H. Lee Waters "Movies of Local People" film featuring people from Boone, Appalachian State Teachers College, and Cove Creek. Multiple 8mm and VHS copies of the film have made the rounds in Boone since the 1980s (you can see an 8mm version in the Cecil Greene Collection) but because of the inferior quality of those formats, they do not have the clarity and level of detail of this outstanding 16mm reel. The film can be viewed in full at https://youtu.be/qSU1gTuPk84.
H. Lee Waters (1902-1997) was a photographer who spent much of his life in Lexington, NC. After working in a textile mill and running the projector at a local theater as a boy, he started working for a local photography studio. He purchased the studio in 1926, renaming it the H. Lee Waters Studio.
Between 1936 and 1942, Waters traveled to 118 communities and produced at least 252 films for his series "Movies of Local People." Waters shot the films, often selling "showcase" space for local businesses, then screened them at local theaters a few weeks later, splitting the ticket revenue with local theaters.
Many of the original film reels are held at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University. The original Boone reel is believed lost. Much of the information above, as well as additional details about Waters and his films, can be found here: https://repository.duke.edu/dc/hleewaters.
To see a list of identifications of individuals and places in the film, see this blog entry from 2016: https://www.wataugacountyhistoricalsociety.org/blog-1/2016/9/27/identifying-the-people-and-places-in-h-lee-waterss-1936-film-of-boone. Please note that the identifications there refer to the 8mm, accelerated version of the film (10:57 in length) hosted by ASU. We are working on time code/identification columns for the Greene 8mm version (14:17) and the Fotta 16mm version (14:22) and will update this space when they are complete.