Studio-Archive Joint Restoration Project Guidelines
Supporting Document C:
Public-Private Cooperation Task Force
(published August 1994)
Increasingly studios and public archives are recognizing the value
of working together to preserve American films. An initiative of special
promise is the joint studio-archive restoration project, pioneered
by Sony Pictures Entertainment with the International Museum of Photography
and Film at George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum
of Modern Art, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive. In this type
of partnership, a studio and archive join forces to produce high-quality
preservation materials of major studio-owned titles. Such projects
differ from standard preservation in that they usually entail extensive
research, planning, and specialized laboratory work to restore films
to their original state. The Film Foundation encourages these arrangements,
finding that they further the studios' proprietary interests, the archives'
cultural mission, and the public's study and enjoyment.
Here is how such voluntary arrangements typically work. The studio
contributes funding for laboratory costs; the archive contributes the
time and skills of its preservation staff. The studio provides access
to its materials; the archive evaluates these elements and searches
for additional source materials in noncommercial custody. Both partners
work together to prioritize titles for restoration and to carry out
Each partner gains from the collaboration. The studio obtains: (1)
detailed and confidential written evaluations on the quality and condition
of existing film elements, (2) information on relevant existing materials,
and (3) new high-quality preprint elements of key titles. The archive
acquires (1) preprint of the same works for safekeeping for future
generations, (2) prints for use in research and public programs, and
(3) a role in projects having a broad popular impact. Both profit from
building a wider circle of working relationships and the cross-fertilization
of ideas and techniques.
It is important to note that archives are as eager as studios to
see preserved films re-enter the marketplace and become available to
the public through theatrical exhibition and ancillary distribution.
Significant American motion pictures restored through public-private
ventures include The Guns of Navarone (1961), On the Waterfront (1954), I've
Always Loved You (1946), Phantom of the Opera (1943), His
Girl Friday (1940), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Holiday (1938), The
Plainsman (1936), Shanghai Express (1932), early sound
shorts by the Vitaphone Company (1927-29), Noah's Ark (1929),
and Tess of the Storm Country (1914). In addition the studios
and archives have collaborated in promoting screenings of studio-preserved
titles such as The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Gone
with the Wind (1939), and The Wizard of Oz (1939), and
thus furthering public interest in preservation and increasing the
audience for restored films.
Why Prepare Voluntary Guidelines?
The Public-Private Cooperation Task Force, appointed by the Librarian
of Congress to advise on the national film preservation plan, has developed
the following voluntary guidelines to assist interested studios and
archives in developing constructive partnerships. The guidelines draw
upon task force members' experiences over the past decade in joint
restoration ventures and summarize key features contributing to successful
efforts. The guidelines suggest an informal framework for designing
mutually beneficial collaborations and can be applied to single projects
or ongoing programs.
Benefits of Cooperative Restoration Projects
By pooling resources and expertise to preserve major studio-owned
titles, a studio and a public archive can produce high-quality preservation
materials, adding to a film's long-term commercial value and supporting
the role of archives in safeguarding America's film heritage.
The studio specifically:
The archive specifically:
- Obtains advice in determining which films are of considerable cultural
interest to the American film-viewing public and worth the investment
of a full-scale restoration.
- Develops a clear framework for preservation planning and prioritization.
- Obtains detailed research on key titles and evaluations of the
preservation quality of film materials in its library.
- Ensures that the best-available materials--from both commercial
and public collections--are used in the restoration process.
- Creates high-quality preprint materials for studio use as well
as additional preservation materials safeguarded in public archives
that can be consulted by the studio should the need arise.
- Realizes commercial benefits from the exploitation of newly restored
titles in exhibition and ancillary markets.
- Obtains high-quality preprint materials to safeguard the title
for future generations.
- Obtains high-quality film prints for use in research and in public
- Contributes to projects having a broad popular impact, and thus
promotes the archives' film preservation work and cultural mission.
- Develop a wider circle of working relationships and trade ideas
and preservation techniques.
Key Features of Successful Projects
- A. The studio and archive would jointly select titles for preservation
evaluation. The studio, in consultation and agreement with the archive,
would select and prioritize titles from its library for the purpose
of determining their preservation needs. Prime candidates for early
inclusion would be titles that the studio already suspects require
- B. The archive would evaluate the preservation needs of each title.
The archive would inspect and evaluate the preservation status of
each selected title. This process would involve two steps:
- 1. Physical inspection. The archive would inspect the studio's
existing preservation elements and other appropriate materials
to determine their quality (picture and sound) and condition
(scratches, tears, splices, signs of deterioration, etc.).
Many titles may be found to be adequately protected and need
no further work. Others, however, may require upgrading or
even restoration to insure proper preservation.
- 2. Written report. The archive would prepare and submit to
the studio a confidential written report on each title inspected.
The report would include:
- Evaluation information on the picture and sound quality
and physical condition.
- Recommendation on whether new preprint materials should
be prepared. If new materials are recommended, the report
also would include: (a) a description of the improvements
that could be obtained and (b) a budget estimating the
cost of the project.
- C. The studio would authorize preservation work. The studio would
approve or reject each recommended project on a title-by-title basis.
No further work--beyond inspection and evaluation--would begin without
- D. The studio and archive would collaborate on the preparation
of materials and the supervision of laboratory work. Once a project
is approved, studio and archive personnel would coordinate the restoration
effort. Typically, this work would include: determining which elements
to use in the restoration process; assembling, repairing, and preparing
the footage for printing; coordinating laboratory processing; and
doing quality control. In some cases, the archive holds in its own
collection film materials that are useful in the preservation process.
The archive may borrow additional materials from other public archives,
in the United States and abroad, or from private sources. The laboratories
used for each project would be jointly selected by the studio and
- E. The studio and archive would each receive new preprint and print
materials at the time of preservation. For each upgraded or restored
title, the studio would order the preprint and print materials needed
for its own operations. In addition, the archive would receive 35mm
preprint elements (picture and sound) and an answer print for permanent
addition to its preservation collection. The archive and studio would
jointly determine the types of elements to be produced for the archive.
The studio would be guaranteed limited access to the archive's materials,
as determined by mutual agreement.
The archive also would receive a 35mm viewing print for in-house
screening and loan to other cultural institutions (museums, universities,
festivals, archives, etc.). All loans would be subject to prior
written approval by the studio.
- F. The studio would underwrite the cost of all laboratory work
and contribute to the cost of the archive's services. Financial arrangements
would vary from program to program and depend on the particular features
of the project and internal factors unique to each studio and archive.
Typically, the studio would cover the costs for laboratory services
on those titles approved for upgrade or restoration, and contribute
to the archive's direct costs for inspection, evaluation and restoration
The studio would control the annual cost of the program by
the number of titles selected and the types of elements prepared.
These costs would be estimated in the budgets prepared by the
archive for each title prior to studio approval of restoration
- G. The studio and archive representatives would meet on a regular
basis to monitor the work and share preservation information. This
might involve one-on-one meetings between the studio and archive,
or, should the studio prefer, larger sessions in which the studio
meets with several public archive partners to share information on
joint projects and preservation issues.
Drafted by the Public-Private Cooperation Task Force: Mary Lea Bandy (Museum
of Modern Art), Raffaele Donato (The Film Foundation), Douglas Gomery (University
of Maryland), William Humphrey (Sony Pictures Entertainment), Scott Martin (Paramount
Pictures), Brian O'Doherty (National Endowment for the Arts), Edward Richmond
(UCLA Film and Television Archive).