Following an extensive survey of schools nationwide, Amherst and Smith were chosen to receive filmmaking and projecting equipment by the Motion Picture Foundation for Colleges and Universities. The Foundation was formed by actor Burgess Meredith ’30 and his wife, actress Pauline Goddard, to further the study of film in colleges and universities.
Meredith, later known for his roles as The Penguin in the “Batman” TV series and movie and as Mickey Goldmill in the “Rocky” series, visited the campus to present the equipment in person. He called Kirby Theatre Director F. Curtis Canfield “tops in the field of college drama,” according to The Student.
The equipment consisted of a 16mm electrically-powered camera capable of recording pictures with sound. It was valued, at the time, at $10,000, The Student reported.
“I would like to see the industry, fourth largest in the country, break away from the ‘Willow Run’ complex of making pictures,” said Meredith upon presenting the equipment. “All you need is a camera and a man who knows how to use it.” Willow Run was a Ford production plant in Michigan, and was synonymous with large, expansive productions.
Canfield explained that the school would train a small staff on how to use the camera, and that students would subsequently be able to begin to make feature-length productions.