student work and lab regs

From: Joan Hawkins (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Apr 16 2010 - 09:28:28 PDT

HI all, I've run into a problem this term and I guess I'm wondering how
common it is, and how you handle it.

I teach film history and criticism courses, but in my avant-garde classes I
always allow
students to do a film as part of their final project. In the past, I've
never had any problem, even when
content as well as style was provocative and edgy. This semester one of my
students, who is also enrolled in advanced production, sent footage--enough
for two class films' worth of shots-- to a lab for processing and printing.
 The lab processed the film but refused to print it because they found the
material objectionable.

From what I've been able to piece together from the production prof's report
and the student's account, there are suggestive scenes
but no actual sex, someone in a corset and about 5 secs of full frontal male
nudity. We're sending the processed film to a different lab in LA or NY for
actual printing, the student is calling to talk to them first and then the
production prof and I will provide documentation, if necessary, that this is
for a
class project (actually 2 class projects). Ironically, this entire brouhaha
broke the day I was planning to discuss the NEA Four and the culture wars of
the 80s/90s in class, so we had quite a "teachable moment," as my husband
wryly called it.

I haven't been able to persuade the production prof to tell me the name of
the lab that refused to print the film; she only says the lab
is in the South. She did send me their printed disclaimer, which I'm
pasting in below. What I'm wondering is how common this is and how
you all handle similar situations. Should I make a practice of warning
students that they need to alert the lab first if there's suggestive
And what in the world counts as suggestive material?-- this disclaimer
covers much of what goes on in mainstream Hollywood movies and television.

As a caveat, I haven't SEEN the film yet, so I don't know what the footage
actually looks like, but the description I got from both
the student and my colleague make it sound like stuff you could see any
night on cable. Thanks for any suggestions you can send. Joan

The published lab caveat is as follows:

*We realize that the artist has full and total choice of expression.
However, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. As a policy, we
do not and will not process, print, repair, or transfer any film containing:
nudity, pornography, sexual acts (either real or simulated), lewdness,
satanic, occultic, religiously blasphemous, exploitative of children,
debasement of women, containing S & M, anything illegal, or in any way
extremely offensive to us. Nor will we participate in the desensitization of
or the glorification of killing, rape, violence, gore, suicide, torture,
profanity, etc. whether in visual or audio form. "

Joan Hawkins
Indiana University
Dept of Communication and Culture
800 E. Third St
Bloomington, IN 47405
office phone 812-855-1548
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.