Category Archives: Documentary

Tom (1972)

Watch on Archive.org

Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 18m 52s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1972
Director: Peter Schnitzler
Production: State of Georgia Department of Education Film Library; Extension Media Center, UCLA; National Institute of Mental Health
Photography/Camera: Neil Reichline
Editor: Howard Lester
Sound: Alvin Tokunow
Production Manager: Edward Hutner
Production Assistants: Kathy, McGinnis, Gene Kopp


After spending several days as the primary subject of a cinéma vérité documentary — surfing, making pottery, and drinking hallucinogenic tea before a vision quest — is it possible to recede into the background of normal life and just move on? We’re unlikely to ever know what became of the long-haired, mustachioed focus of the 1972 film, Tom — he’d be in his early 70s today — but if his belief system held firm through his golden years, he’s probably somewhere in the hills of northern California, playing the flute in between ruminations on the meaning of life.

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The Occult: An Echo from Darkness (1972)

Distribution: A/V Geeks
Featured on: O is for Occult

Running time: 48m 00s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1972
Director: Tom Doades
Production: Pyramid Films, ECRF Production, Mal Couch
Writer: Tom Doades, Marshall Riggan
Photography/Camera: Jerry Callaway
Narration: Martin Brooks
Editor: Jim Ferguson

Cast: Hal Lindsey


Years before it was a hotbed of technological innovation and unaffordable housing, the San Francisco Bay Area was the “headquarters of occult and metaphysical activity in the United States.” This was a startling history lesson to me, but just one of many assertions by the creators of the 1972 religious short film, The Occult: An Echo from Darkness. If you like your anonymous talking head documentaries with ominous music and a hearty side of hard-line Satanic panic propaganda, this is the film of your factually dubious dreams.

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Possibilities in Clay (1975)

Watch Now on IU Media Collections Online

Institution: Indiana University
Collection: IUL Moving Image Archive

Running time: 24m 51s
Year: 1975
Source film: 16mm; color; sound
Director: Phil Terman
Audio: Don Scales
Photography: Phil Stockton
Production: Indiana University Audio-Visual Center


There are many functional items you simply cannot produce using clay as your primary material. Skateboards, functional gyroscopes, and domestic cats are all well beyond the jurisdiction of the ceramist. In fact, there are far more things that are not clay-based than are. That said, the art and practice of ceramics — hardening material into form by firing it at extremely high temperatures — is thousands of years old and the medium of clay transcends culture, geography, and era. The 1975 short documentary Possibilities in Clay, produced by the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center, examines various expressions of the material through four portrayals of five different ceramics artists, each with his or her own philosophical approach to the craft of clay.

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Teddy (1971)

Watch on Archive.org

Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 16m 16s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1971
Director: Richard Wells
Production: Gary Schlosser; Peter Schniztler; University of California, Los Angeles – Extension Media Center;  National Institute of Mental Health
Photography/Camera: Robert Grant
Editor: Andrew Stein


The Social Seminar was a program sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and developed by the National Institute of Mental Health in the early 1970s that sought to provide a learning environment in which participants identified and established values and improved communication skills while participating in structured activities. From a cursory review of the resource manual provided to seminar facilitators (see: Related), it appears that much of the program was oriented around one of 19 short documentary films that were used as learning tools. They depicted all sorts of lives, from the acid-dropping California hippie to the television news reporter. At least six of the films were executive produced by Oscar-nominated short subject documentary filmmaker Gary Schlosser, so they had competent editing and camera-work that provided a coherent portrait of each film’s subject. Despite the program’s central aim of the prevention of drug abuse, not all of the films were strictly about drug consumption. 1971’s Teddy was one such film, focusing on a high school student in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

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