Re: Preservation guide for filmmakers

From: Pip Chodorov (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 11 2006 - 13:08:48 PST

Dear Bill,
thanks for this initiative. I think it is one of the most important
issues to address today. Of all the aspects of experimental
filmmaking - production, distribution, programming, etc. - almost all
have networks and groups actively working to improve existing
conditions, find government funding, create support for filmmakers in
places with no resources, etc. But two areas remain far behind:
preservation and writing and criticism of contemporary films.
Concerning preservation, I looked around at the state of older films
and made certain decisions when approaching my own filmmaking
techniques. First I decided to shoot negative instead of reversal, as
I had been doing, in order not to have to make internegatives at a
later stage. So many filmmakers of the 60s and 70s are left with only
reversal originals and no way to print. (I also shoot Kodachrome
because I know it will outlive me no matter what, as long as it's
processed by September 2006 when the lab closes.) Second I keep all
finished image negative and track negative together in a private
vault with temperature and humidity control. I never leave my
negatives in lab vaults because they tend to close and throw things
away, which is why Stan Vanderbeek's negatives are now lost. (I had a
big scare like this at WRS a few years ago, though now WRS is back up
and running on a smaller scale in Pittsburgh). Third, I keep the
elements in plastic reels and cans to avoid vinegar syndrome. I try
and make new prints every five years or so, to be sure the colors are
not fading, and send the prints to different coops and archives. And
finally, I work often at L'Abominable and this reassures me that I
will always be able at a very low cost to strike new negatives or
prints, make blow-ups or restore film elements in any other way
needed, simply by giving each film the attention it deserves by hand,
with the right equipment - I don't have to rely on expensive labs or
wait for some institution to rescue the work.
Getting people to write about new films is another kettle of fish -
that is also a way to preserve them.
Do let us know how the project progresses! Thanks and good luck,
-Pip Chodorov

>Dear Frameworkers:
> What are your most pressing questions about preserving your work?
> Have you even thought about this?
> If you have thought about it but haven't done anything,
>what's holding you back?
> Where are your films? This includes originals, tracks, prints
>and printing masters? Do you even know?
>Bill Brand

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.