MIDLAND, N.C. – For more than 100 years, movies have sparked imaginations around the world.
When you think of silver screen legends, you might think of Hollywood, but you might not think of Midland, North Carolina. But pass the tracks and the tractors lays a hidden gem.
Outside an aging building, located in a backyard, in a rural community there are a few rusty clues to the tinsel-town treasures being kept alive inside.
Martin Hill collects Hollywood history and has been infatuated with movies from an early age.
“Some teenagers dream about girls. I dreamed about going through the Mitchell factory to see how cameras were made,” Hill said.
Fast forward a few years, and Hill got his own Mitchell camera and filmed the first feature film shot in Charlotte.
“It was called ‘Dr. Gore.’ Someone said it was one of the five worst films ever,” Hill said.
He even tried his hand at acting, but Martin’s true passion has always been for the tools of the trade, motion picture cameras.
Camera buffs from around the world have made their way to Hill’s doorstep, and many ask the same question: ‘What is Midland?’
“This was the camera body of D2,” said Martin, showing off his collection, “and it was a ‘Gone With the Wind’ camera.”
Much of his collection has what he calls provenance.
"In other words, they shot a certain actor or actress," Hill said.
One of his favorites is a Mitchell Vistavision camera used to film a cinematic classic, ‘The 10 Commandments.’
Movie cameras are a business and a hobby for Martin. He’s bought and sold many though the years, but he’s been able to hold on to his most iconic cameras.
Martin doesn’t claim to have the tidiest collection, but you won’t find another like it in the world.
“At this stage of the game I wish it were cleaner and neater,” Hill said of his collection. “I have a really eloquent knowledge of the equipment. Putting it in a clean spot on the floor, now that is a problem.”