Agfa Screen Test! Snapshot Contest from the Great Depression

Agfa used to be a film, now it is an "imaging corporation" I think. Same old story...spin-offs into divisions, eventual bankruptcy, frustrated consumers and hopefully a bright new future as a lean, mean company shorn of employees and now producing pictures which exist only in digital form. Progress!

Agfa had a brilliant idea back in 1934. Their films were used in making motion pictures, including Agfa "Plenachrome," so the "Test for Hollywood" was born! We were in the midst of the Great Depression, and at the time the glamour of Hollywood was about the only thing taking folks minds off their lost land and foreclosed houses, so Agfa decided to hang movie-star fame over the heads of picture takers. Snap a picture of yourself (or more likely, your brat) and mail it in! Afga promised to select five winners who would receive screen tests, and the winner would be guaranteed a movie contract. I have no idea how many cans of film this gambit sold, but the instructions allow one to "enter as many snapshots as you like, up to sixteen."

Ads ran in local newspapers and elsewhere. The Milwaukee Journal, The Pittsburgh Press, the Chicago Tribune. Oddly, each ad had a potential winner wearing a mask.

Now I cannot find the name of the winner, nor can I locate a film star who credits Agfa with giving them their start. But it would make a good movie, wouldn't it?

Agfa Film Win a Movie Contract brochure 1934 Collection Jim Linderman


  1. So why were the models in the ad wearing masks? Seems sleazy.

  2. I reckon you'll have to ask the company historian at Agfa. I have no idea!

  3. Since the advent of the moving picture, America has surely had a fascination with Hollywood and movie stars.