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Home > Featured Projects: San Francisco Historical Society Entertains Wharf Patrons

San Francisco Historical Society Entertains Wharf Patrons
Productiontrax Sound Effects Add Flavor to Award-Winning Documentary

The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society and the city’s public library teamed up recently to produce “Amusing America,” an award-winning, free exhibit located at Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf.  The documentary, which won the “Videographer’s Award of Excellence 2005” (, chronicles participatory commercial amusements in American cities—San Francisco in particular—and how they changed the way Americans lived. 

Written by Ink Mendelsohn and directed by videographer/editor Garry L. Newkirk, visitors to Amusing America are transported back in time to a new era in America when the lights came on; the trolleys rolled, and recorded music and the first movies were invented.  Beginning with the gilded Age of the 1880s and ‘90s, world’s fairs, penny arcades, swimming baths, skating rinks, dance pavilions, amusement and theme parks have given ordinary American affordable entertainment. 

To tell the story, the exhibition is supported with an 8-minute video displayed on four flat panel screens that takes vintage photographs and puts them in motion along with music and sound FX, which were supplied from  “The use of sound FX enhanced the film, giving it a more natural feel that made you forget that you were looking at still photos,” says Newkirk.

From the sunny California shore at Santa Cruz and Santa Monica amusement parks, to the banks of the Great Lakes at Cedar Point to the Mother of Them All, Coney Island, they are still laughing and screaming together.  “Amusement parks are the great melting pots of urban America,” comments Stan Barker of the National Amusement Park Historical Association.  In fact, these amusement venues might be called the last level playing fields in an America with an ever-widening economic divide.

The film also has been chosen to be screened at this fall's International Independent Film & Video festivals 2005 in New York and Los Angeles. The event features films and videos from around the world, including Canada, Spain, France, China, Germany, Brazil, Ireland, England and the U.S.

On the web: San Francisco Public Library

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