RIP Stephen Parr, Oddball Films' eccentric archivist

For connoisseurs of rare film, few experiences could top Oddball Films' meticulously curated one-time-only screenings from their extensive rare film collection. This short documentary looks at founder Stephen Parr, who died October 24.

Via Mission Local

He held public screenings of pieces that struck his fancy, while earning his keep as the custodian of an enormous archive for clients searching for just the right clip. They included artists, documentarians and commercial media enterprises.

That approach earned him and Oddball widespread recognition.

“People, constantly, when they hear I’m a film archivist, people say, ‘Oh, you have that place in the Mission,’ because everybody knows Stephen,” said Rick Prelinger, another film archivist and a friend of Parr’s.

It helped that he’d worked with some serious heavy hitters. Parr’s first client as a film archivist was director Ridley Scott, who learned that Parr was the man to see for quirky footage.

Now there is a question of what will become of his collection, rumored to contain 50,000 cans of film. Prelinger said archivists from near and far are reaching out to Parr’s family to determine the archive’s future. For one thing, it is a formidable collection of, yes, oddities, but it has also served as a resource for footage in important documentaries — a catalogue of, as Parr himself put it, memories.

Oddball was really set apart, however, by Parr’s determination to share what he’d found with others and bring future archivists into the fold.

With death of Stephen Parr, SF Mission loses the archivist behind Oddball films

Oddball (Vimeo / Joshua Moore)

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