I have two clear memories of watching film strips, and although I likely viewed them during school growing up, but can I only recall two specific times. The first is being at my grandmother’s house seeing pictures of my dad’s family growing up. I treasure what I remember from that afternoon, and I snapped some pictures on my phone so I could remember some of them.
The second is the only time I remember falling asleep in class in all my years of education. In my biology class, this is the early 2000s by the way, I remember laying my head down on my desk while watching film strips, of what I can’t remember, and then 20 minutes later I realize that I got a little rest and hope no one had noticed. Film strips weren’t common at this point I can’t imagine, and clearly I wasn’t engaged in what was happening.
While filmstrips are no longer used prevalently today and haven’t been for some time, they appear on basketball cards dating back to 1996-97 (that I can find), and were used as recently as 2021! In my opinion they are heavily underutilized in the card world and present a big opportunity for card companies now and in the future. With this post I looked at a few cards I had in my collection, picked up a few, and added some to my want list. As always, Trading Card Database was a great resource for research and I continue to use it to track my collection.
The set that came to mind for me and prompted this post was 2001-02 SP Authentic. A portion of the rookie cards contained a piece of film, while others were autographed and did not. I had this Jamison Brewer rookie in my Pacers collection, and it was the only film card I owned before I picked up a few while writing this post. Many of these film cards from SP Authentic can be picked up for pretty cheap.
For example, I grabbed this Vladimir Radmanovic for a few dollars delivered. I enjoyed watching Radmanovic on Ray Allen led Sonics teams in the 2000s, and was happy to add this one. Another shoutout to @RefsInTheBack on this one- there’s a ref in the film!
The back of the card is equally impressive, with the film visible on both sides. Brewer stuck around with the Pacers for 3 seasons before playing his final NBA season with the Knicks in 2004. I’m glad he represented the Pacers in this set to give me an excuse to pick up this card.
Looks like SP Authentic was released late enough in the season to state that Radmanovic was a quality bench contributor for the Sonics. He was solid enough off the bench and started 16 games, earning him a spot on the 2001-02 All-Rookie team. Radmanovic was a key member of multiple teams that made deep playoff runs.
The Pau Gasol is the highest priced card from this set. His piece of film has Kobe in it as well so it goes for a premium.
2013-14 Fleer Retro contains these cards too with college uniforms. I picked up the Cheryl Miller but can’t find it in my card boxes.
While the SP Authentic cards came to mind first, they certainly weren’t the first set with a film element. This post won’t be comprehensive, but looks at the sets that stood out to me.
1996-97 SP Game Film is a gem of an insert set. It’s die-cut, has multiple photos, and this Grant Hill in particular shows Hill whipping a pass to Terry Mills, and his matchup with Eddie Jones in the second. Pure 90s nostalgia here. Jordan is the first card in the set, but there’s also more affordable options. The lowest priced are Shawn Kemp, Jim Jackson, and the Grant Hill. This Hill isn’t mine but I hope to add one someday.
2000-01 Stadium Club’s Capture the Action Gameview is a parallel version of the Capture the Action insert set, numbered out of just 100, and these are rare to come across, particularly for the more sought after players. The parallel versions contain a film element, where the regular insert does not. Kobe is the chase card here, but it’s a star studded early 2000s insert set. These are too scarce for me, but of course would love to add the Duncan to my collection.
Going back to 2001-02, a definite sweet spot in my collecting history, is the Floor/Film game used combination cards in Upper Deck Hardcourt. The set has many of the stars from the early 2000s that you’d expect, Kobe being the highlight. The Floor/Film set came back for 2002-03 Hardcourt as well.
Skipping ahead to the Panini era, 2013-14 Panini Signatures Film autographs and non-autographs can be had, with low serial numbers, likely because of the 200 card set size for the non-autographs. The regular Film set is out of 35, the Onyx is out of 20, Blue out of 15, Red out of 10, Green is out of 5, and Platinum 1/1.
The rookie autographs are serial numbered out of varying numbers. The big one is Giannis out of 199. The veteran checklist is 75 players, the highlights being Kobe, Durant, Kawhi, Anthony Davis, Kareem, David Robinson, it’s quite a checklist.
I picked up the George Hill out of just 15 for less than $10. Hill was an easy choice because he was affordable and continues to be one of my favorite players going back to his Spurs days. I love the clean design of this set and the large checklist.
The Panini Gala Sets in 2014-15 and 2015-16 also contain film autograph cards and they are stunning. The sets have two different designs, the Silver Screen Signatures and the Cinematic Signatures, all autographs with a film element. I mean come on, look at this Stockton.
And lastly, the new Space Jam cards include film cells! Like I said, Film cards aren’t going out of style!
Do you have cards with film elements in your collection? What sets are your favorite?