And Devil Makes Three

I love it when people bring in family treasures that they’ve inherited or found but have no idea what memories may be contained within them. It is a mystery that I can help to solve. Today, a woman brought in boxes from her home that contained reels of film, carousels of slides and envelopes of photographs. And tucked away in the bottom of one of the boxes were two 45rpm records  containing recorded messages along with a written letter that came from a soldier stationed in Germany in the early 1950s.

I’ve yet to transfer the audio but I glanced at the letters from 1952 that the soldier wrote home describing life in post war Germany. He was excited because Gene Kelly was in the area making a film and some of the Americans stationed there were going to be tapped to be extras in his movie.

Upon investigating, it would appear that the film in question was “The Devil Makes Three” which was made in 1952 on location in Germany and starred Gene Kelly and Italian actress Pier Angeli. The film was about a man who returns to Germany after the war to track down the German family who protected him when his plane was shot down. While there he uncovers a neo-Nazi group still operating in the shadows.

I don’t know if the writer of the letter ever appeared in the film. All I know is that he was excited that he might be among those chosen. I did find out why Gene Kelly was appearing in a film shot on location in post-war Germany.  It turns out that in 1951 the US Congress passed a law that allowed a significant tax break to any Americans who lived abroad for 18 months or longer. During that time those ex-pats would not have to report any earnings they received while out of the country.

Kelly was one of the first Hollywood stars to take advantage of this new law. The Devil Makes Three was the first of three films Kelly made overseas during this time. While some believed Kelly’s move was purely financially based, others thought that Kelly moved to get away from the McCarthyism running amok in the US at the time because his wife, Betsy Blair, was known to outwardly support several left-wing Communist causes and he felt he could protect his family better outside of the country.

While his film was not received warmly upon its release it has endured largely because it provides a real time perspective of post war Germany. Its final scenes were even shot in Hitler’s retreat at Berchtesgaden before it was demolished in 1953. 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Name Droppings

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I am a big fan of talent. And it thrills me when talented people come into our studio to ask for our help in protecting and preserving the artistic creations they’ve made. We have had quite a few stop by our studio over the years.  They usually space themselves out but yesterday in particular it was like celebrity central around Home Video Studio.

It started out to be a relatively uneventful day when into our studio walks Key West artist/muralist/sculptor, Dick Moody, who also happens to blow a mean saxophone. We always enjoy talking with Dick who is never short on stories about his time on and off the stage with familiar names in the music and art world. Dick came in to get a live jam session he was a part of at the Green Parrot in Key West transferred over to a usb drive.

No sooner did he leave than we got a surprise visit from our old friend Colin MacLeod, the Celtic Fiddle Guru, who stopped in on his way to Singapore and Australia to regale audiences there with his unique style and inspirational message. He needed to get a number of his CDs duplicated so he would have something to sell after his appearances.

And to top the day off on a high note, we had an enjoyable visit from Canadian Country Music Juno Award winner, Glory-Anne Prophet who found some “lost” recordings of her late husband Ronnie Prophet who was a world-class, hall of fame entertainer. She presented us with a number of his 45’s and a mixture of his audio recordings to make a compilation CD for future enjoyment.

It was a red-letter day all around for us but, to be quite honest, most days here are. Because whether you are an international star or just a celebrity among your own family, your memories are special and you will always receive special treatment from us. You can rest assured that we’ll always give you the star treatment you deserve.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

What’s Important

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It is sad to say but sometimes it takes a tragedy to get us to recognize the true value of things.  We often take things for granted until faced with the real possibility that we just might lose them.

I’m working with a woman whose parents own two homes just outside of Paradise, CA which has been devastated by the wildfires that are ravaging that part of the country. Thankfully, their parents heeded the evacuation orders and they are safe but they have not been able to return to check on their properties. They are preparing themselves for the possibility that everything they own may have been lost to the fire.

The one saving grace is that a few years ago, the parents shipped to my client a box filled with Betamax tapes. They are old, unlabeled and nobody seemed to know what’s on them or what to do with them. My client has just been storing the box for her parents all this time. Suddenly, due to the recent events, she has realized exactly what she had been sitting on. That box potentially contains the only evidence that exists of the long life her family has shared together. It has gone from just one more piece of clutter under foot to the most precious possession in her house.

I feel privileged to unlock the memories that may be stored on these tapes and deliver them back to the family. I hope it provides some solace or comfort for the family as they prepare to face whatever they find awaits them.

Here’s a link to a site that describes how people can best help victims of the California wildfires.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Up In Smoke

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One of our clients told us the saddest story yesterday. A friend of theirs was taking a family vacation aboard a cruise ship and while gone, they received a message from a neighbor saying that their home had burnt to the ground overnight. There was a problem with the home’s electrical wiring.

I can certainly relate on multiple levels. Bad news seems inevitably to follow me on vacations. I’ve had two companies sold out from under me while I was off sightseeing other lands. I returned home only to find I’d been downsized by the new management. And still my wife wonders why I don’t much care for vacations…

But my experiences can’t compare to hearing the news that everything you once owned is now in ashes. While it was a blessing that everyone, including their pets, were away when the fire broke out, and so no lives were at risk, it is heartbreaking to face the reality that all of one’s possessions – including the recorded memories taken over a lifetime – were now gone… just like that.

It is one reason we are passionate about the business we are in. By updating family memories to a digital form, it is easier to make a back up copy of all your family memories (film, videotape, photos, slides, audio recordings, etc) and store that copy in an off-site safe deposit box in the case that, should a tragedy occur, the memories will not be irretrievably lost.

Our prayer is that no one ever face the devastating loss that fire, flood, hurricanes, etc can bring. But while we continue to believe for the best, it is wise to prepare for the worst. Insurance can help you replace things. Memories cannot be insured – but they can be protected. Call us and ask us how.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.