THE RESCUED FILM PROJECT

Levi Bettweiser has spent years restoring old rolls of film.

 

Many of the photographs he develops reveal unseen moments from history.

Boise, Idaho - Photos and home movies were always an important part of my life growing up.  My mother was a photographer and my father always had one of those huge VHS camcorders on his shoulder during holidays, birthdays, and any other special event.  I myself went on to become a video producer and photographer.

 

I started the Rescued Film project in 2013 as an online archive gallery of images captured on film between the 1930s and late 1990s. Each image was recovered from undeveloped rolls of film found in locations all over the world.

 

Each image I rescue is special for someone. Each frame is a moment that was meant to be captured. The picture was taken, the roll finished, wound up, and for reasons we can only speculate, never developed.  These moments never made it into a photo album or picture frame but I believe they deserve to be seen so that the photographer's personal experiences can be shared, forever marking their existence in history.

That’s what motivates me to spend thousands of dollars and countless hours seeking out these rolls of film. It was ingrained in me from an early age that those seemingly ordinary moments in a person's life are some of the most important.

 

I rescue film because those "simple" moments, the ones we have all had – the birthday parties, Christmas mornings, a pet cat or dog, that family vacation. These are the moments that show who we are as human beings.

 

These images are the most honest documentation of what we do, from a time when we didn’t self-edit or promote images like we do now. They were taken to remember a moment that was special, and to share it only with those close to the photographer. I miss that honesty in photography that is so often lost in our world of digital imagery and photo sharing.

That's why I spend hours each day - before I go to work, or when I get home and at weekends - processing film, scanning negatives, and tracking down leads on where I might find more film to continue The Rescued Film Project.

 

Film is an organic material that degrades over time. I want to save as many images as possible before they fade away.

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THE RESCUED FILM PROJECT

Filmmaker: Levi Bettweiser

Camera: Tucker Debevec, Eric Bower

Video Editor: Levi Bettwieser, Andrew Phillips

Article & Photos: Levi Bettweiser

Assistant Producer: Ziad Ramley

Executive Producer: Yasir Khan