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Still image from the film Eyes of the Totem, 1927, in front of what is now the Tacoma Historical Society Museum.
HC Weaver film production crew for Eyes of the Totem in front of the Winthrop Hotel, 1926.
Eyes OF THE Totem
In 1927 H.C. Weaver Productions of Tacoma, WA released the film Eyes of the Totem. It was one of three films the company produced between 1924-1928. All three had been thought lost permanently for decades until in 2014 Eyes of the Totem was re-discovered.
Tacoma Historic Preservation Coordinator Lauren Hoogkamer was researching film history for a possible preservation film series when she came across an amazing find: Eyes of the Totem was in the archives of a museum in NYC. Read more about her discovery HERE.
Eyes of the Totem was directed by W.S. Van Dyke and stars Wanda Hawley & Tom Santschi. The cast and production of the film is professional and impressive. See the credits at IMDB HERE.
Many historic sites in and around Tacoma make an appearance in the film; some buildings which stand no more are seen again, while a number of remaining buildings (i.e. the Winthrop, Annie Wright School, Thornewood Castle, to name a few) make a fine showing . And of course, Tacoma's very tall totem pole (now in Fireman's Park, then in front of the now lost Tacoma Hotel) plays a lead role.
Soon after H.C. Weaver Productions released Eyes of the Totem "talkies" killed silent film as an investment and the only film studio in the Pacific Northwest closed permanently. Not long after that the company's three films were thought to be lost forever; "pulp" films such as these were created for quick market consumption and considered too costly to preserve.
The other two films by H.C. Weaver Productions: Hearts and Fists (1926) and The Heart of the Yukon (1927) are still lost. Hopefully, with the attention garnered via the re-release of Eyes of the Totem they too will be recovered.
Team Totem is led by:
Michael Sullivan, historian and principal at Artifacts Architectural Consulting ;
Lauren Hoogkamer, the City of Tacoma's Historic Preservation Coordinator ;
John N. Miller, Production Coordinator - TV Tacoma ;
Mick Flaaen, Mariposa Productions ;
John Christopher Bayman, Composer ;
John Carlton, Multimedia Producer
Bill Baarsma, Tacoma Historical Society
The Tacoma Historical Society
is the fiscal agent and keeper of the film. Team Totem has worked in conjunction with historians, film experts, community members and the Tacoma Art Museum to re-release Eyes of the Totem in an appropriate and attractive fashion. The film has been set to an original score by local composer John Christopher Bayman . Eyes of the Totem will be entered into multiple film festivals, so cinephiles around the world can enjoy its rebirth. A feature length documentary is also being created about the film's resurrection, and a dvd release of the film with added commentary and informational programs is on the horizon. Stay tuned and thanks for checking in.