Collecting Vintage Movie Posters

Standard

I’ve always loved old movies and so it was only natural to get into movie posters once I started collecting and selling antiques. I love the graphics and it’s a really easy way to add some funky retro flair to your apartment.

If you’re getting into collecting, there’s a few key things you should know, especially before shelling out the big bucks. Here’s a simple breakdown of movie poster history, and what you should be looking for (and be wary of) if you’re looking to start collecting.

POSTER SIZE

Different sizes can tell you a lot about the age of the poster, as well as its value. Plus, if you’re looking for a particular size for your home, it’s handy to know the dimensions of these commonly used terms.

ONE SHEET (1sh)
The one sheet is the most common, and generally most collectible of American issue movie posters. Prior to 1985, most measured 27″ x 41″, while since then they tend to be slightly smaller, measuring 27″ x 40″. These are printed in a vertical format and were initially delivered to the theatre folded, often one vertical and three horizontal, sometimes with 3 vertical folds. These folds in vintage posters are expected, and not considered damage, generally do not take away from the value of the poster. Since the 1980s, posters have started being delivered rolled, so if you come across something that you think is vintage, but has absolutely no fold marks, proceed with caution. It’s more likely a reproduction.

INSERT
Another vertical format, these haven’t been issued since the 1980s. They measure 14″ x 36″ and are printed on thick stock paper, again delivered folded. They are often rarer than one sheets and quite popular due to their smaller size; personally, these have always been my favourite format. I have quite a few them currently listed for sale on my Etsy shop, Tucked Away Antiques.

HALF-SHEET
These 22″ x 28″ sized horizontal posters are rarer than either of those previously listed, and use of them was also discontinued in the 1980s. Once again, they were originally delivered to theatres folded (twice) but later ones were rolled.

40×60
No fancy name for this one, as you might have guessed they measured 40″ x 60″and are extremely rare compared to a one sheet. They were printed on heavy cardstock and because of this, are difficult to find in mint condition; they creased easily. These only existed for major motion pictures and were meant for display inside and outside of theatres. They were printed in much smaller quantities, adding to their value.

SUBWAY/TWO SHEET
This horizontal format measures 41″ x 54″ or 45″ x 60″ and is very popular and rare. They are printed on thicker paper than one sheets and were often issued as advance materials, for display in subways. Could be rolled or folded, less printed than previously mentioned formats, and due to size (about twice that of a one sheet) are scarce and desirable.

 

THREE SHEET
Likely the largest size any average collector would seek out is this 41″ x 81″ vertical poster. Designed to be pasted to small billboards these too were issued folded and stopped being produced in the 1970s. They are roughly three times the size of a one sheet, sometimes printed in multiple sections and make for a very bold statement. Once again, these are very rare compared to a one sheet.

WINDOW CARD
This smaller vertical format measures 14″ x 22″ and is printed on thick stock paper with a blank are on the top for venue info and show dates. Generally unfolded, because of their size. Since they were meant to be used by specific theatres, having handwritten info at the top, or having the top removed completely, is not generally considered damage, and does not lower the value of the poster. However, they do go for considerably less than any of the those listed above.

LOBBY CARD
Lobby cards are fairly easy to find in secondhand shops, and as they were often produced in a series of 8, you will find several versions for a film. They measure 11″ x 14″ and are generally horizontal, meant for, as the name says, display in a theatre lobby. Generally they are meant to depict all stars and represent the entire film, though scene cards will feature specific scenes from the film.

 

There are many other formats out there, but I stuck to the most common ones that you are more likely to encounter, and that the average person could find space for in their home. For a visual reference, here’s a handy chart from cinemamasterpieces.com.

cineam15

NATIONAL SCREEN SERVICE (NSS) NUMBERS

In the 1940s, the National Screen Service started a date and coding system to keep track of the materials passing through it. While there are some weird exceptions (which you can read about here) for the most part, it’s pretty east to figure out.

Say for example, you saw

52/189

You would know that the poster was issued in 1952, and that it was the 189th film coded by the NSS that year. Basically, the number before the dash is what we’re interested in.

Now say you have one like this

R-52/189

The “R” represents “re-release” and means that, while the image may be what was used in 1952, that particular poster was released later.

Another thing that can tip you off to a non-original print is the copyright date; while the NSS number is generally in the bottom right, you can often find the copyright on the left hand corner. If you’ve got a 1952 copyright, and a 53/119 NSS number, even without an “R”, you know it wasn’t printed when the film was first released. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean a decrease in value. Sometimes films were issued overseas and then in America, giving them a different copyright & NSS number. In the 1970s the dash was eliminated, but the system otherwise stayed the same.

***

There’s much more to be said about dating posters and determining value, but I’ll leave that to the experts. Check out this very comprehensive guide to learn more.

  • E.

Theatre Audition Tips

Standard

I’ve been getting dozens upon dozens of audition applications for Rope this week, and while a lot of the auditioning process is fun, over time there are some poor choices I see actors making again and again, something that leads to frustration for me, and ultimately missed opportunities for them. So here are a few quick audition tips, for those of you applying for Rope or any other show. Hopefully they help.

Headshots
Your headshot is the first glimpse the director or casting director gets of you, so it’s important to have a good one. Colour photos are the norm these days and they should be clear, close-up (shoulders up) and accurately reflect what you look like. That one’s important, so I’ll say it again; your headshot should look like you; a cleaned up version yes, but not a glamourous or fake one. This is not a modelling shot, so don’t send in a photo of you with beautifully styled hair, perfect makeup and fancy clothes if you’re going to show up to the audition in sweats and a ponytail. It won’t help you get the part; if anything, it’ll make it less likely. Your headshot is meant to be a reminder of who you were so if you don’t look anything like it, you’ll end up forgotten.

Artistic Resume
Along with your headshot you will need to submit an artistic resume that outlines your experiences. The most important thing on your resume is your contact info; list your name, email, and a phone number at which you can easily be contacted, right at the top of the resume. You should also list any union affiliations and agent contact info at the top. Generally you will also want to list your height, weight, hair colour, eye colour and ethnicity. Next, list whatever you have the most experience in; if you are right out of school and have a lot of training, but minimal experience, start with the training. If you have done more film than theatre, list those first. List projects in reverse chronological order, and don’t include dates. Follow this format;

  • Theatre: Title of Show, Role, Theatre Company, Director
  • Film & Television: Title of Show/Film, Category of Role (ie. Principle, Supporting), Producer/Network, Director

Generally you don’t include extra work in your main film/television category, or specific commercials; these can be provided on a separate form if requested. An important note about your theatre listings; be sure to list the theatre company you worked with, not just the venue. Sometimes outside companies rent a space from a major theatre, and listing that space as your company is essentially lying on your resume; directors notice, and we don’t like it.

For example, say Bygone Theatre produced a show and we rented out Factory Theatre, the format should look like this;

Rope, Brandon, Bygone Theatre, Emily Dix

NOT like this;

Rope, Brandon, Factory Theatre, Emily Dix

The second example would imply it was produced by Factory Theatre, which is incorrect.

Cover Letter
Unless requested, you don’t need to include a cover letter, but if you do, make sure it’s well written. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors look unprofessional and can get you tossed out before you even have a chance to audition. As well, be sure that your cover letter is specific and tailored to the role; it is easy to tell when something is copied and pasted, and things like referring to a play as a “film” can also see you rejected. Take the time to show you are interested and committed to the project if you want the director to take the time to see you in an audition.

In the Audition
Make sure you arrive on time for your audition; often they are scheduled back-to-back and being even a couple minutes late can throw things off and lose you your spot. Be dressed appropriately; this means wearing something that looks good on you and suits the style of the show. Unless you are auditioning for a character that would do so, don’t show up in sweats. Make sure you are cleaned up and that you look like your headshot.

If you need to warm-up before your audition, do that outside. Th director shouldn’t see you doing this; don’t waste time inside the audition room. When you come in, be cheery and polite; don’t complain about your day or make excuses for being late or ill-prepared (sounds obvious but I’ve seen this a LOT). Be friendly but not too chatty, you’re there to audition, not make friends. Try to avoid asking too many questions. Come in having done your homework and be ready to start immediately.

Choosing a Monologue
If a monologue isn’t provided, choose one that suits the style of the piece you are auditioning for. Think about  whether it is a comedy or a drama, what the period is, and what type of character you are auditioning for. Avoid monologues that have a lot of sexuality or profanity; this rarely comes across as shocking or interesting and is more likely to make the whole room feel uncomfortable (fun story – when casting for Doubt I had several women auditioning to be nuns do monologues that involved excessive amounts of swearing; needless to say, they didn’t receive callbacks) . Try to show some emotional range but don’t feel like you need to choose something that involves screaming or crying; play to your strengths.

Remember, as awful as this may sound, when you are auditioning for something you are putting yourself out there to be judged; put your best foot forward and do what you can to impress your audience. Talent is important but being polite and professional matters just as much. An actor who isn’t right for the role but impresses a director with their preparedness and manners is much more likely to be asked back to audition for another piece than one who is talented but rude and unprepared.

If you find you have trouble at auditions, the best way to improve is to do as many of them as you can. Each time you will be more relaxed and will pick up new tips. To those of you out there auditioning, break a leg!

-E.