Voluntary Guidelines for Joint Studio-Archive Restoration Projects
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 the process.
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: Both partners:
Key Features of Successful Projects
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).