This month’s guest is David Manuel, a self confessed film enthusiast whose earliest memories of cinema and film were sitting in the projection room of the Coffs Harbour drive-in theatre as a child. From there, his love of all things cinema developed, and he now boasts an impressive collection of film memorabilia, including a home cinema!
What do you collect?
I collect cinema memorabilia such as projectors, films (8 mm super 8, 9.5 mm, 16 mm, 35 mm) cinema posters both new and old, autographed photographs of stars now and yesteryear, glass slides, lobby cards, movie programmes, movie cameras, movie props and drive-in speakers.
How long have you been collecting for?
I have been collecting for twenty years.
What prompted you to start collecting, and why film memorabilia?
My collection began when I gained employment in the position of projectionist at Birch Carroll and Coyle cinemas. This encouraged my vast interest in anything to do with the movies.
Do you remember the first piece that started your collection?
The first piece that started my collection was a Kodak standard 8 mm 1928 projector.
Tell us about the cinema setup you have at home to house your collection?
We have built a home cinema, including a projection room with port holes, full sized movie screen, theatre carpet, cinema seats, 1950s cinema wall paper, original theatre surround sound system, framed original movie posters and display cabinets.
This has created the atmosphere and the magic of the movies. On movie nights, original ticket passes are given.
Where do you find all your memorabilia, and is it hard to source?
Memorabilia is sourced from other movie enthusiasts, antique shops such as good friend Ludo from Ludo’s Old Wares, the internet and word of mouth. Some items can be difficult to source, but some items find me!
Is your collection still growing?
My collection is still growing, but I am more selective now.
Do you have one favourite piece in your collection?
My favourite piece is a 1948 full size 35 mm projector with carbon arc lamp house from the former Urunga Picture Theatre, which I fully restored to its former glory.
What makes your collection so unique?
The collection is unique due to the vast variety of memorabilia, and it’s set up like a museum.
Having over 120 projectors and numerous posters, both new and old.
Vinyl theatre banners also add to the uniqueness. Historical films of Coffs Harbour are always of great interest to Coffs Harbour locals, such as former Tasma Theatre programmes.
Some off my memorabilia is rare and highly sought after.
Films that range from 1930s to now, including silent movies, black and white, musicals, westerns, comedies, dramas and actions.
Are you a member of any collectors and or enthusiasts clubs?
I am a member of Reel Deals magazine and National Film and Sound Archives.
You’ve also been involved in some special screenings, haven’t you?
Over the years I have enjoyed projecting movies for the Coffs Harbour City Council, retirement villages and nursing homes, Coffs Harbour show ground, Bunker Cartoon Gallery, Iluka events and Bellingen Jazz Festival.
Examples of movies screened include:
Casablanca, 101 Dalmations, Strictly Ballroom, Night at the Opera, Moulin Rouge, Marx Brothers, Shine and Second Chorus.
This story was published in issue 23 of the Coffs Coast Focus