Texas itinerant filmmaker Melton Barker made the same film, The Kidnappers Foil, approximately 200 times in different towns across the United States. I developed a satellite website for TAMI dedicated to Barker, highlighting his films and the extensive research on Barker performed by TAMI Executive Director Caroline Frick and Moving Image Archivist Dwight Swanson. I conceived of a website architecture that would communicate to users the prolificacy of Barker’s itinerant films, the unique localities the films document, and the experience the films provided for their child actors in the early days of film. I hoped to create a space to not only stream Barker’s films, but also showcase Barker’s methods, illustrate the practice of itinerant filmmaking, and provide a community space for cast members and their families to exchange memories, provide descriptive details for the films online, and perhaps provide leads so that we may discover and preserve more of Barker’s films. With those goals in mind, I designed and formatted the website and its original blog theme using WordPress, CSS, and HTML. I performed original research using newspaper archives and emails to Frick from Kidnappers Foil  “actors” to discover  locations and dates of films and create a complete list and map of known versions of The Kidnappers Foil. I also assembled photographs, newspaper articles, digitized ephemera, scholarly articles, and websites to create a section of the website that can serve as a comprehensive resource for researchers. I now maintain website and add new information as discoveries are made on Barker’s work.

The Kidnappers Foil was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in December of 2012. The New York Times profiled Melton Barker, his work, and TAMI’s work to preserve his films in a February 2013 article.


Images provided courtesy of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image and Jim Ponder.