Trojan Tales

Trojan Tales: A visit to USC’s Hugh Hefner Moving Image Archives

There are thousands of historical reels beneath USC's Norris Theater.

In 1940, if you wanted a camera for your USC student film you went to one place: Herb Farmer’s dorm room.

Until he brought his Bell and Howard camera to campus, the school was only making what they dubbed “filmless films,” or films without equipment. Farmer became the person you went to when you needed equipment — and, as film equipment kept evolving, he just kept collecting.

Eventually, he became a professor at USC and keeper of the growing moving image archive. For decades, he continued to amass equipment, paraphernalia, and whatever film reels he could find.

In the decades since the archives were founded, they’ve grown to include 85,000 reels of old films, including USC student productions and the educational films that the university used to make and license out.

And although it’s tucked away under the Norris Theater, archivist Dino Everett says it’s open to the public.