Re: chicago film archive

From: Bill Brand (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 03 2007 - 12:18:01 PST


Your question is a good one.

First, I suggest you check out the National Film Preservation
Foundation web site. To get an idea of how an archive thinks about
the questions you raise, look at their granting guidelines for an
outline of what they look for from an applicant. Also, their
wonderful little book on film preservation is available for pdf
download on that site as "Preservation Basic". Here you'll find more
answers than you want (but not too many more.)

Second, I'll gently agree with Carolyn's comments about film
preservation being a way to keep films alive and available rather
than locked away or "embalmed".

Finally, since most film preservation guides are aimed at
institutions and many of the films that interest me fall outside an
institutional umbrella, I believe it's left to those of us who make
films, videos and other moving image works to keep our works alive
through whatever preservation efforts we can accomplish. For this
purpose, I've written with Toni Treadway "A Self-Preservation Guide
for Film/Video-Makers". It was published last year by Anthology Film
Archives in "Results You Can't Refuse: Celebrating 30 Years of BB
Optics". The book is available from Anthology or online at There was
talk of making just the guide available free on a web site, but I
don't think its happened yet.



>>For some reason hearing about grant money always makes me think of
>>how it might otherwise have been used, or more exactly, about what
>>factors go into choosing to preserve old films and which ones. I
>>wouldn't conclude it should be used any other way, but what exactly
>>goes into this embalming process?
>There are many factors that go into choosing which films to preserve
>and every care-taker (institution, archive, media arts organization,
>individual etc.) has to make those decisions with their mission and
>priorities in mind among other things. But before delving further
>into that I would first object to your characterization of film
>preservation as an 'embalming process'. Would you explain why you
>characterize it this way? FIlm preservation is not just about
>creating pristine negs and such that sit on shelves - it must
>include access. Sure, not all institutions, archives etc., actually
>practice that principle but there's really no point in preserving
>anything without the intent to present it to an audience. The
>life/death analogies too often made with archives and preservation
>in general are not very useful but, trying to stay close to your
>point, if you preserve a film and introduce it to an audience that
>otherwise would not have been able to see it - does that not breathe
>some 'life' into it?
>For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

Bill Brand
108 Franklin Street #4W
New York, NY  10013
(212) 966-6253
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.