The Premiere of Our EDPremier Project

27, October 2017

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The EDPremier Processing and Cataloging Project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services MA-30-17-0276-17.

 

We have some pretty exciting news to share: Through the generosity of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, we recently secured funding to fully process the film portion of our Epsilon-Dalzell Premier Collection. This means that for the next three years, we’ll be cleaning, repairing, and preserving thousands of rolls of film created by a company that played a major role in St. Louis’s advertising heyday.

Introducing Premier Film and Recording Corp.

Premier Film and Recording Corp. evolved out of a radio-advertising company created by Wilson Dalzell in 1936. Premier produced commercials, industrial films, and short-subject films for regional and national advertising agencies. The films in our collection range from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s.

Among the companies represented are quite a few well-known names: 7-Up, Anheuser-Busch, Brown Shoe Company, and Purina. Major nonprofits are represented as well, including American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, United Way, and Washington University Medical Center.

Premier dissolved in 1994. Four years later, the Missouri Historical Society purchased the entire collection—which also includes audio materials, production records, and still images from production sets—from Epsilon Corporation, a holding company that managed the assets of Wilson Dalzell and his wife, Grace.

Storyboard page and still frame from Reisch Beer TV adStoryboard page and still frame from Premier's commercial for Reisch Beer, 1957. Missouri Historical Society Collections.

Unlocking Premier’s Unintentional Time Capsules

After nearly 20 years, we now have the opportunity to really get to know what it is that we have within this massive collection. What makes this prospect truly terrific is the fact that advertising and industrial films provide unique insight into American culture.

Production notes for Reisch Beer TV adThis handwritten timing sheet was used to calculate the timing of the Reisch Beer jingle verses to the images on the screen. Missouri Historical Society Collections.

By using the language and style of the time, TV ads attempt to convince a rather broad audience to buy a product or join a cause. In doing so, they also showcase the values of society at a particular time. Industrial films do the same for specific industries or even companies. They can indicate the direction of a company or even reveal what’s changing in a company or industry’s marketing, manufacturing, or overall strategy.

The production records accompanying many of the film projects will also prove invaluable, particularly the handwritten notes regarding concepts and storyboards. These notations show the evolution of the creative process.

Over the next three years, we’ll be periodically sharing interesting and significant discoveries here and on our YouTube channel. To whet your appetite, below is a commercial Premier made for Reisch Beer. This Springfield, Illinois–based brewing company was founded in 1849. Prior to dissolving in 1966, Reisch claimed to be the oldest family-managed brewery in the United States. Premier created this 16 mm black-and-white film in 1957 on behalf of Oakleigh R. French & Associates.

—Chris Martinez, Manager of Media Archives and Digital Assets

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