Washington, D.C., Public Hearing: Volume 3
Report of the Librarian of Congress
Table of Contents
- The National Film Preservation Board and its Current Members
- List of Abbreviations
- Opening Remarks by Winston Tabb, Moderator, NFPB Panel
- Opening Remarks by Fay Kanin, Chairwoman, NFPB
- Statements by:
The National Film Preservation Board and its Current Members
List of Abbreviations
- American Film Institute
- American Movie Classics
- Association of Moving Image Archivists
- Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers
- American National Standards Institute
- American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
- British Film Institute
- Broadcast Music, Inc.
- Committee for Intercollegiate Cooperation
- Council on International Nontheatrical Events
- Film Archives Advisory Committee/Television Archives Advisory Cmte.
- Federation Internationale Des Archives Du Film/International Federation of Film Archives
- Independent Film Importers and Distributors of America
- high-definition television
- internegative film
- interpositive film
- Society for Imaging Science and Technology
- Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division
- track music and effects sound track
- Museum of Modern Art Dept. of Film
- Motion Picture Association of America
- National Moving Image Database
- National Association of Photographic Manufacturers
- National Archives and Records Administration
- National Endowment for the Arts
- National Endowment for the Humanities
- National Film Preservation Board
- National Historical Publications and Records Commission
- Online Computer Library Center
- Relative Humidity
- Radio-Keith-Orpheum Pictures Corporation
- Research Libraries Information Network
- Society for Cinema Studies
- Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
- United Artists
- University of California, Los Angeles, Film and Television Archive
- University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television
- United States Information Agency
- yellow, cyan and magenta color film separation records; also L.A. film lab
The Current State of American Film Preservation
Friday, February 26, 1993
National Film Preservation Board Panel
Library of Congress
The National Film Preservation Board Panel met, pursuant to notice, at 9:10 a.m., at the Library of Congress, Mumford Room, 6th Floor, James Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C., to conduct its second public hearing on the current state of American film preservation, Winston Tabb, Associate Librarian for Collections Services, Library of Congress, presiding as Panel Moderator.
National Film Preservation Board Panel
Proceedings: Morning Session
MR. TABB: We need to get underway because if you have seen a copy of today's schedule you know we have a very ambitious one, and cannot afford to fall behind at the beginning.
I am pleased to welcome all of you here for the second of two town meetings on film preservation in the United States sponsored by the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress. The first of the two meetings was held in Los Angeles just two weeks ago today.
I would like to begin by introducing our panelists.
First, on my right, Fay Kanin, who is the Chair of the National Film Preservation Board, on which she represents the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
To my left is David Francis, the Chief of the Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.
Next to Fay is John Belton, a member of the National Film Preservation Board representing the Society for Cinema Studies. He is also a professor at Rutgers.
To his right is Milt Shefter, an alternate at-large member of the Film Board and president of Miljoy Enterprises, Inc., a preservation consulting firm.
And, finally, to my far left, David Chasman, who is a veteran industry executive.
Dr. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, will also be joining us shortly.
Before we go further, I would like to call on Fay Kanin to read the remarks that Dr. Billington would have delivered had he been able to be here at this point and then we will go ahead and talk about the ground rules for the rest of the day. Fay?
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: Thank you, Winston. I will now read Dr. Billington's statement.
I want to thank all of you for joining us today for the second of two public meetings on film preservation by the National Film Preservation board. Two weeks ago in Los Angeles we had our first meeting which successfully brought together major film studios, archivists, film techniciansand users for a very interesting discussion of the issues before us.
These meetings are intended to help us develop a report which wemust deliver to Congress in June and to achieve our historic mission, to preserve our film heritage.
In June 1992, Congress reauthorized the National Film PreservationBoard for four years. Congress asked us to continue performing some ofthe tasks we were already performing, such as selecting 25 culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films and to collect archival copiesof them for a national collection in the Library of Congress. But the 1992Act clarified that our principal mission is film preservation.
Congress asked us to take two steps. First, we were asked to take a snapshot of all the current activities and issues in our national film preservation efforts and to report this information to Congress by the endof June 1993. Second, using this report as a working document, we are towork with all of the relevant parties to develop a national plan to preserve our film heritage. We will prepare this plan by the end of 1993.
So today we continue on the task we began in Los Angeles two weeks ago as information gatherers. Last September, the newly reconstituted National Film Preservation Board decided that we should hold public meetings to discuss our nation's preservation activities. These public meetings are a great opportunity to air a wide assortment of issues,to hear from all parts of the film community and to begin to shape public policy.
Before we start, there are two points worth underlining that I mentioned at our Los Angeles meeting. We are defining preservation broadly to include the full range of activities required to save and also tomake available America's film heritage. The other point is that Congressasked us to limit our report to film preservation, so we will put aside any questions about television and other video media. Our report may pavethe way for a second report on the important issues involved with the preservation of television and video materials but we were not given this mandate from Congress and are not charged to address them today or inour June report.
On February 12 in Los Angeles, we had 20 witnesses from public archives, film studios, labs and citizens groups discuss a variety of concerns about the physical preservation of materials, accessing information about what is currently stored and preserved, and about public access to the materials themselves.
Today we will add to our information base with testimony from 25 additional witnesses from the film community, and we are doing it in a public forum to encourage discussion of the issues we are now facing.
Let me repeat what I said in Los Angeles. We encourage response comments from those testifying today and from those of you in the audience on any of the subjects before us today or that we discussed inLos Angeles. All written comments must be received by the Library of Congress by March 15.
Again I want to publicly thank Annette Melville and Scott Simmon,our consultants tasked with writing the report, for all of their efforts todate.
And that is Dr. Billington's report. I might just say for myself that the number and the diversity of the interests that are participating in this meeting is quite remarkable. I think it is historic that the Library and the National Film Preservation Board are able to provide such an opportunity for us all to get together to talk about this. I know all of us are very eager to hear and learn from all of you. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much, Fay.
Now, as moderator, I would like to review our procedures for today's meeting. We have organized the speakers into panels of varying sizes. In fact, some of the panels will be one person only. But I will ask each panel to come to the speakers' table together and then the speakers will go in the order listed in the program that we distributed in the lobby.
If anyone failed to get any of the handouts, you may go out and get any that you wish to have. There are several that I think will be very useful to you to have throughout the hearing.
All the speakers have been instructed to keep their prepared remarks brief, that is, no more than ten minutes. And I will call time, if necessary. In fact, I think I will have to wield a fairly mean gavel today to be sure we get through all of the comments as well as have time for the questions.
After the speakers have given their prepared statements, I will invite my colleagues on this panel to ask follow-up questions during the balance of the time allocated to that group.
All written comments and the transcript of the proceedings today will be printed and available to the public as an appendix to the report we submit to Congress in June. We invite the speakers, observers and anyone else who has a strong interest in this matter to submit written comments to the Library, that is, to Steve Leggett of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, by March 15.
If you have not yet got a copy of the notice in the Federal Register, it tells you what the address is and what the deadline is. March 15 is the time by which we must receive all comments.
Now if we could begin, I would like to invite to the table Matt Gerson, who will be speaking for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. We know Matt also as the alternative representative of the Motion Picture Association of America on the Film Board, so we are glad to see you, Matt. Statement of Matthew Gerson, Vice President, Motion Picture Association of America, representing the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers MR. GERSON: Thank you very much, Winston.
Chairman Kanin, panel members, my name is Matt Gerson. I am Vice President of the Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA]. A number of people wondered whether this forum would be cancelled today because of the snow but I knew that at the Library, just like in Hollywood, the show must go on.
It is an honor to appear today on behalf of my friend and colleague, Nick Counter, the president of AMPTP, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Nick and I represent the producers and distributors of films, TV shows and home videos. MPAA represents the seven major studios. AMPTP represents those studios and 100 other producers in labor negotiations with the various guilds.
I am here today because we support this panel and efforts to develop a plan for preserving America's film heritage. We appreciate the importance of your mandate because your work is targeted at our history, our family tree, if you will, and will ensure that we leave a legacy for future generations.
As this panel knows, the studios have had ongoing preservation programs for a very long time. They had programs before anyone anticipated that our films would flourish in the home video and cable markets. In recent years, the studios have increased their preservation initiatives. At the hearing held earlier this month, as Ms. Kanin noted, you heard about several of the programs ongoing at the major studios.
There are four points from Nick Counter's written testimony that I would like to emphasize today.
First, we want to work with this panel and the Library in formulating a national plan. We have learned many practical lessons about preservation and want to share that knowledge and serve as a resource.
Second, we recommend that the board establish a glossary of terms so that everyone is singing from the same song sheet. Jargon can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. Some speak in terms of preservation, others speak in terms of restoration, and it is hard to be sure that everyone is always talking about the same thing.
We believe that a glossary would facilitate communications among experts and laymen and enhance the identification of films in need of protection and clarify the focus of preservation efforts.
We propose the establishment of a separate committee, a committee set up to prepare a glossary, and we would be eager to suggest experts from the studios who could share their knowledge and the knowledge that they have acquired over the years that we have been preserving our films. This committee might also be asked to study the technology of preservation so that we all better understand the different technologies used by the different players.
Third, Nick wants me to suggest that we encourage this panel to focus their energies and resources on those films that are not being tended to, those films that are being neglected, those that will be lost if steps are not taken and not taken now.
Fourth, we want to reaffirm MPAA's commitment to the National Film Preservation Board. Our members will do their part to ensure that the Library has prints of films selected for the National Film Registry. In the past, the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Billington, has thanked Jack Valenti and the MPAA for our efforts to make sure that film prints are available to the registry.
We are honored to own a number of the films that have been selected for the Registry and we do recognize a duty to the Registry and, as I said, to this panel and the panel's efforts.
In conclusion, let me note that it is quite refreshing to see the level of cooperation that characterizes the preservation community. Studios, private collections, archives and public institutions regularly help one another by exchanging material, sometimes through funding. The spirit and common purpose that I have seen inspires confidence that the panel will be able to meet the goals that have been set for them.
I would be glad to respond to any questions that you might have. Thank you very much for this opportunity.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Matt. Questions? David?
MR. FRANCIS: Obviously the glossary is very important. We all speak the same language but it seems not only do we have to have a glossary, we have to have standards to match the words we use.
Do you think those standards already exist among your members? I mean, are they all using the same standards?
MR. GERSON: In preparing for my testimony today, I read the testimony the studios gave to you a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles and it appears to me just from that brief reading that they do not necessarily have the same standards. It is not always done the same way.
My recommendation about a glossary, our recommendation of a glossary, comes from my background which is more public policy than preservation. I know that when this panel makes their recommendations to the Congress they are going to be dealing with legislators who are not experts in preservation, laymen in this area, who go from the Agriculture Committee to the Intelligence Committee to the Copyright Committee and then have to think about preservation.
I think it would help them to do their work and you to achieve the goals that you have set for yourselves if they can better understand these issues. I think it would be a great asset to those that are going to help you meet the goals of this panel.
MR. TABB: John?
MR. BELTON: Yes. I was wondering whether the producers and distributors have a mechanism for sharing information about their own ongoing preservation activities, where such discrepancies might come to the surface, or whether such a mechanism needs somehow to be part of a national preservation policy, whether there is some sort of a forum for people within the industry to talk about problems they face?
MR. GERSON: I know that each of the individual studios have in-house databases. Phil Murphy of Paramount is testifying later on and he described in his testimony last week the database that was put together by Paramount so they can share information in-house, all over the world, through a personal computer. Many of the studios have similar facilities.
The big question is what about sharing between and among the studios, the archives and private institutions, and the Library of Congress. I believe that is one of the questions that really needs to be addressed by this panel, whether or not we can put together a database that will achieve your goal while at the same time maintaining the rights of copyright owners.
Again, in my experience observing preservation over the last five years, there is an extraordinary amount of cooperation that goes on. It is refreshing to see how the archives will help out a studio and vice versa. And I think that there can be more done to facilitate that information sharing.
MR. BELTON: There seem to be new models for cooperation between private and public archives which we discovered in California, the Sony-Columbia arrangement, the Museum of Modern Art is also working with studios, Eastman House.
Is there any encouragement within the industry for establishing newer models rather than the deposit models that have been used in the past, to actually work actively with public archives?
MR. GERSON: Sure. There is absolutely a commitment to doing that. At the same time I think there has to be a sensitivity to the rights of the corporations, the rights of the copyright holders, the rights of the shareholders. But as a general matter, I think it is equally important that we share information because in our efforts to preserve a film that may be missing five minutes or one reel, the portion we need might be sitting in a warehouse in a private archive or a private institution and we can benefit from knowledge, from knowing that it is out there someplace. So we are committed to developing a database that works for all interested in preservation.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: It would be very key to have the studios enter their information into a national database because without that commitment, we would not have a full picture.
MR. GERSON: Well, again, we are committed to developing the right kind of standards but I will emphasize we also have to have sensitivity to the rights of our shareholders, the rights of copyright owners, the proprietary rights that we enjoy under the copyright act and elsewhere.
MR. CHASMAN: Excuse me. You raise a point. There are many films which are--not to be blunt about it--illegally held by private collectors, some of them very rare, some of them very old. What would the studios' reaction be to some sort of amnesty or forgiveness for the registration of such material improperly held though they may be?
MR. GERSON: Sir, I honestly do not know the answer to that but I certainly can explore that and get back to this panel. We were just talking yesterday with some of the experts that are assisting this panel and that there are films out there, in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, that used to be and still are owned by the studios. However, if the copyright owner does not have a copy, what good is it to them? So I think in order to get a copy, they may forego prosecutions.
MR. CHASMAN: That is a whole new can of peas because with the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc, all of the films that are being found are usually illegally acquired outside the copyright agreements.
MR. GERSON: But it seems to me that there would be great incentive just to have back this property that we have lost. As I said, I would like to explore that question a little bit further with the people that I represent.
MR. CHASMAN: I understand.
MR. GERSON: And we will be glad to get back to you on the subject.
MR. CHASMAN: Thank you.
MR. TABB: Are there any other questions?
MR. TABB: Thank you very much, Matt.
MR. GERSON: Thank you very much.
MR. TABB: We will move on to the next panel of independent filmmakers.
I invite to the table Mr. Stevens, who was formerly a representative of the AFI on the Film Board, and also Frederick Wiseman, who is the maker among other films of High School, which the Librarian has chosen for the National Film Registry.
We will start first with you, Mr. Stevens. We have up to ten minutes for prepared remarks and then we will have questions from the panel. Thank you. Statement of George Stevens, Jr., independent producer and filmmaker
MR. STEVENS: Thank you, Winston, and members of the committee for a chance to offer a few comments from my perspective. I am here today in the good company of Fred Wiseman as an independent filmmaker. Of course, I also have had an interest in this particular topic for, I guess, close to 25 years.
Driving up here through the snow it seemed to me kind of a metaphor for our quarter- century involvement in trying to preserve films, rescue films and save films and, in thinking about just a few things to say today, I developed two themes. One is, "We have come a long way, baby," and the other is, "Baby, we have a long way to go."
I was just thinking back to my own involvement and really taking a look at the activity that is going on in these areas, the work of the Library, the Film Preservation Board, and it is quite remarkable, the level of involvement, the breadth of involvement, that has developed in recent years to focus on this very important problem--because it is an issue that was almost off the radar screen many years ago.
I remember my first kind of shock of recognition, you might call it that, about the issue of film preservation that came at--I remember it precisely--the 1963 Cannes Film Festival. I had the privilege of being the American delegate at the Cannes Film Festival. I was then working at USIA for Edward R. Murrow at the Motion Picture Division and that was one of the perquisites that came with that job. And I think I could fairly call him a disheveled man, a large man with hair down to his shoulders--I see David Francis smiling because he knows I am describing Henri Langlois--and he accosted me, sat down and started this tirade about the failure of America to preserve its films. I was very ignorant of those circumstances and he was a missionary preserving films in Europe, but he also had this great love and affection for American films and it was provocative and stimulating.
In the immediately ensuing years when we were planning the American Film Institute, it certainly put preservation at the forefront of my mind and made it a cornerstone when the AFI was founded.
And, of course, it was such a different landscape then. There was the pioneering George Eastman House, led by James Card; there was the Museum of Modern Art, led by Eileen Bowser and Willard Van Dyke; and the Library of Congress and very little else. And certainly the studios at that time had virtually no interest in film preservation. And to complete the picture, most of you know that at that time in the Library of Congress, film preservation came under a subsection of the Prints and Photographs Division. And when we were beginning the AFI and the Library people became involved, it is ironic in retrospect that the first decision of the AFI board in terms of film preservation was to make a grant of $50,000 annually from this new, small organization to the Library of Congress to stimulate film preservation. We decided not to create an archive, thinking that was not what we should do. Rather, we would help collect films for the Library and, happily, I think some 20,000 films are now in the AFI collection in the Library of Congress.
There have been lots of these trips by so many of us--not always snowy trips but sometimes they seem snowy trips--up Independence Avenue to try and make the Congress more aware of these problems. Gregory Peck was the founding chairman of the American Film Institute and we came together several times to testify. One time we were before John Brademas' committee--Greg had worked very hard on this and he then was very concerned about film preservation and he still is, and his testimony was excellent and he gave it with the resonance that he is capable of. As we walked out, he asked if we are successful in getting this preservation going, could we exclude a film called The Days of Glory? That was Greg's first film that he was not very proud of. It would be interesting to find out if that film has indeed been preserved.
You know, it is interesting, David Chasman was asking, one of the great early crises of the American Film Institute was when Sam Kula and Larry Karr were the two archivists. There was a film, which I think for this purpose should still remain nameless, that was found in England, and it was a very important film on the rescue list of 50 films that Card, Everson, Van Dyke and the AFI staff had developed. And Sam Kula came to me with great enthusiasm that they had found a print of this lost film in England. He said it belonged to a collector and that he was willing to turn over his mint condition print if we would make a dupe and give it back to him.
Well, it turned out to be a break between the AFI and one of the major film companies because we had given our pledge that we would give the man a copy of the film, and it was the feeling of the studio that that was a complete violation of their rights. There was that capacity for tension between the studios and the rescuers and collectors.
Today, we have a visionary leader of the Library of Congress. I think it is so encouraging that Jim Billington, who is a scholar in so many fields, has taken such a personal interest both in guiding these efforts and screening films, and sitting through long meetings of the Film Preservation Board. I would just like to thank you personally, Jim. I think you have made a great difference.
I think when we see so many archivists and historians working in this field, and we begin to see an interest on the part of the film companies in taking an active role. You remarked that was stimulated by video. I think there is a more aware generation of leadership in the film studios. After our testimony in 1989 before the Senate committee, it was just at the time of the Sony purchase of Columbia, and a number of us raised the concern that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is now owned in Tokyo. And I sent a copy of my testimony to Mickey Schulhof, the chairman of Sony, and within two days he called up and he said we are aware of that concern. He said we are going to form a committee to work on film preservation, and he asked if I would be part of it. And a number of us, Mary Lea Bandy, Bob Rosen, and others have been meeting with the Sony executives and they have been doing a superb job. I think it is a great example of the kind of collaboration that now can go on between the private sector and the public. And I think it is worth saying at this time that the involvement of the public sector--the National Endowment for the Arts which created the American Film Institute, and the Library of Congress--has been the stimulus that has kept this question in front of the public and in front of the film companies. I think it is important that stimulation continue.
Now, just two or three personal items from another perspective on the "Baby, we've- got-a-long-way-to-go" department. In addition to making films, being the son of a filmmaker, I end up having a kind of custodial role in that there are occasions when I get involved with the films of my father. It was two years ago that I got a call from 20th Century Fox. When we were preserving films, we thought that rescue work was about the silent films, the nitrate films, the films from the distant past. It never occurred to me that I would be getting a call in 1990 about a film made in 1958, The Diary of Anne Frank. Somebody from the Fox studio called and said that they had gone to the negative--the only negative, the existing negative--of The Diary of Anne Frank, and found that two reels of the film had become "vinegarized." This film was made with such care, such beautiful photography and such beautiful lighting about a subject of such importance by an individual who believed that films well-made would stand the test of time and be of interest to other generations. Fox was aware that I had a 35mm print of the film, and the sad conclusion of this was that the only way to recreate those two reels of The Diary of Anne Frank was to make a negative off the print. And, of course, that means that film will forever exist in a degraded state.
So, I think we have to be vigilant and questioning in the public's interest. I realize, as was pointed out earlier by the MPAA representative, that the studios have some proprietary feelings and some proprietary rights, but--sitting here with Fred Wiseman--I would like to raise the filmmaker's perspective, the perspective of the people who conceive and spend long days and nights making these films. I speak for friends who have gone--John Huston, William Wyler, John Ford, Hitchcock, my father--to say that a public responsibility exists, and, I believe, there should be some accountability in terms of the preservation of these works that are so much a part of our national culture. Thank you very much.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Mr. Wiseman? Statement of Frederick Wiseman, independent filmmaker
MR. WISEMAN: Thank you. I appreciate the chance to talk with you today.
I would like you to imagine yourselves historians of twentieth-century America working in the year 2093. You would have access to the usual historical records, books, newspapers, memorandum, computer disks, still photographs, Hollywood movies, but probably not documentary films because they would not be available. Yet much of the material historians of our time will be most interested in exists in and on documentary film.
One can put aside the politics or point of view of documentary films and just look at what is shown as a form of natural history. Documentary films show how people talk, walk, dress, relate to each other, the nature of work, the social organization of society, family relations, the handling of deviant behavior, the operation of courts, the role of police, medical practices, the relationship between men and women, racial issues, the functioning of government agencies, scientific experimentation, the nature of entertainment and our music and the way it was performed. The list is obviously endless.
I would like now to reverse the historical look and suggest that our knowledge and understanding of nineteenth-century America would be enriched and enlarged if film technology had been available to document American life in that century. We would be endlessly fascinated by a police station in Boston in 1840, a southern plantation, a hospital in Washington during the Civil War, the voyage of a clipper ship, a western frontier town, the Library of Congress in 1890, a congressional race in Missouri in 1866, a regiment fighting in the War of 1812, the South during Reconstruction, Charles Dickens' tour of America, a band concert in a small Ohio town in 1872 to name but a few topics from another endless list.
What interests twentieth-century historians of nineteenth-century American life are not just the best-selling popular novels of the period, but documents that give the texture and feel of everyday life. I would like to suggest to you that the principal film archival effort that I am familiar with is the equivalent of collecting the popular novels of the 19th century. The emphasis today is on the preservation of Hollywood movies to the almost total exclusion of documentary film material. There is to my knowledge no systematic, selective effort to preserve and collect the work of the documentary filmmakers of our time.
I am going to briefly describe my own material because it may be representative of the problems facing many documentary filmmakers.
Over the last 26 years, I have made 26 films covering a wide variety of topics drawn from the common experience of everyday life: schools, military service, courts, hospitals, religious life, handicapped people, business and prisons. This represents about 4 million feet of negative and 4 million feet of quarter-inch tape. There is also 4 million feet of work print and 4 million feet of magnetic track. In addition, I have the original negative, interpositive and duplicate negatives for each of the films. This represents another half million feet of film and optical track.
The cost of storing this material is about $7000 a year. I cannot afford to continue to pay this. I am obviously going to keep all the preprint negative material but I am now forced to consider destroying the rest which consists of most of the material. Yet the kind of documentation that exists in the outtakes of films may be of most interest to historians and the general public in succeeding centuries in their efforts to reconstruct, know and understand the way we live now.
I would urge you to support an archival effort that makes a systematic and enduring effort to preserve and collect documentary film material. I believe that in doing so you would make an important contribution to the future study and understanding of our times and establish a precedent that would be admired and followed.
I would like you also to think about the possibility that the documentary film of our time may be the entertainment film of the next century. One measure of social change will be the extent to which the documentary films of the twentieth century become the equivalent of the Marx Brothers or situation comedies of the twenty-first century. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Any questions? John?
MR. BELTON: Yes. Mr. Stevens, you have had tremendous experience with the AFI during its first 13 years or so. I was wondering if you could share with us, or use this background of the experience of trying to coordinate a national film preservation effort, to pinpoint one or two of the major problems which you felt that the AFI faced, and what solutions might have accelerated preservation activities over the past two decades. Unfortunately, that sort of thing just did not happen. What is the nation facing in terms of chief problems?
MR. STEVENS: Well, first the progress. I think the most important progress has been this interest and awareness. I think it was so difficult before because people's eyes glazed over. People had not yet realized how important it was to preserve feature films and documentary films. So I think that is very important progress.
The difficult part is money. I mean, just hear Fred Wiseman describe the cost of preserving the materials of one filmmaker. I think, at the time, we felt that this nitrate rescue effort would be done and then everything would be fine. The lesson was that that was merely the beginning, that there are more and more and more films being made, and the fact that they are made on safety film did not guarantee their survival. Loss and carelessness and inattention put them in jeopardy.
If I could, parenthetically, give one other personal item because we are involved in it right now. The American Film Institute is paying tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. Paramount Pictures lost the negative to A Place in the Sun. We are now dealing with material from whatever they have been able to piece together. The scene selected from A Place in the Sun for the tribute to Elizabeth Taylor is a scene that most people with memory of the film remember, the scene with her and Monty Clift when they are dancing, they go out on the porch and she says, "Come to mama." There is a terrible pop in the sound track. We could not avoid that pop when we made George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey; we could not avoid that pop when we honor Elizabeth Taylor. It is very hard to get the attention of Paramount Pictures to the fact that this is a very important film classic, and that it needs to be preserved and safeguarded to the best extent possible now that the negative is lost, unless somehow there would be the good fortune of finding the negative.
So I both herald the progress and answer your question by saying that money and interest are the two big problems.
MR. BELTON: Is there a suggestion you might make in terms of how to structure a national preservation policy, how public attention and the attention of the studios can be focused on this issue?
MR. STEVENS: Frankly, I think there are people who are working on it today who are better informed on that and I would defer to you who are more active than I am right now.
MR. TABB: Fay?
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: To Mr. Wiseman. You rightly describe for us the information that is available about our lives and our society on documentary films. What is the problem of public access to that [material]? And how do you see that as being used by the public? What structure do you see for that?
MR. WISEMAN: I suppose if an archive or archives began to collect this material more systematically it would be open to the public, to anyone who wanted to have access to it, whatever access to it.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: You would, for instance, give your material to an archive?
MR. WISEMAN: I would give all the outtake material. I would not make the films available free because that means I would stop eating.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: But you were saying you would make it available with certain fees, is that it?
MR. WISEMAN: Well, I would make the outtakes available without any fees.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: I was using you as an example, not holding you up--
MR. WISEMAN: The full-length films I would not make available free.
MR. SHEFTER: Just a quick question for Mr. Wiseman. Your films have moved all of us, so you are among fans here, but I was especially interested in the fact that you have your own distribution company, Zipporah Films? MR. WISEMAN: Right.
MR. SHEFTER: And I think this could be a role model for independent filmmakers and documentarians to take control of their own destinies. Could you tell us a little bit about this and how you came to that decision?
MR. WISEMAN: Well, after having been cheated blind by a couple of the studios I felt that there was a 100% margin of error in setting up my own company, which I did in 1970, so that at least whatever money came in I got to keep, and whatever mistakes I made were my own, and I had no one else to blame. Because I was not only not getting any money from distributors, but I was having to sue them to at least get the reports to see how they cheated me.
MR. SHEFTER: Would you advise other filmmakers to set up their own companies?
MR. WISEMAN: Well, it was much easier in the seventies than it is now, because in the seventies when schools and libraries were more interested in 16mm prints, you could eke out a living on it. Now with videocassettes, it is extremely difficult, so I would suggest that anybody proceed with great caution.
MR. SHEFTER: Thank you.
MR. CHASMAN: On a slow question, in addition to studios who are copyright holders there are a half dozen separate entities, universities and museums, that maintain film preservation programs. Would either of you have any thoughts or even recommendations on how a national coordination of this kind of preservation could be achieved?
MR. STEVENS: I think the process is one of bringing people together and I think that the studios, the archives, all interested parties should be formed into a federation of some sort, an organization that exchanges information, meets regularly and works with rescue lists and an awareness of what films are in trouble, what films are missing. Certainly the Film Preservation Board and that list of films is a good beginning.
MR. CHASMAN: Let me say as a postscript that Greg Peck's worst fears are realized. Days of Glory shows on American Movie Classics all the time.
MR. TABB: David Francis?
MR. FRANCIS: Mr. Wiseman, I think that the question of outtakes is one of the most difficult ones for film archives. One of their great worries is that the material is often not well documented at the time of production, because of the stresses that take place then.
Do you think if one could devise a standard format for describing outtakes, that documentary filmmakers, knowing that national collections would then consider them, would be prepared to follow that format--if it were as simple a format as possible but one that had basic information?
MR. WISEMAN: Well, I assume that documentary filmmakers that have a minimum of intelligence would be interested in following that format, because it would be in their interests. And I think that just in order to make a documentary film, to edit a film, you have to have a very good log of all the material. I cannot speak for others, but I know for myself that I have a log which lists every shot on each roll of film, and I would think that most people have that.
MR. FRANCIS: If I may follow up just briefly, do you think the log that you keep would also be as intelligible to someone who was not around at the time of shooting? If it suddenly came into a collection like ours and was given to our cataloging staff, would the information be enough to make that material valuable in the way that you described in your testimony?
MR. WISEMAN: I think so, but I cannot speak for anybody else. I keep very detailed logs summarizing the action and the conversation.
DR. BILLINGTON: Well, first of all, I would like to say as a historian that I think you are absolutely right about documentary film. We are already discovering that the film we have restored and put in our American Memory packets, which we tested in 44 sites around the country, often has unexpected educational value. I mean, when you have shown a very little bit of footage of what a street in New York was like at the turn of the century, you get people asking questions that stimulate the leading experts in the field because the leading experts in the field have not looked at this material.
Much of it is immediately intelligible and prompts questions about clothing, why are these people walking this way; they knew that there was horse and carriage but why were the people sitting the way they were in the carriage, and so forth and so on. There is just an almost infinite amount of material in these documentaries, and our experience is that a lot of this stuff can really fundamentally affect the educational process and rekindle for an audiovisually oriented audience an interest in history and traditional history as we are doing in libraries. So this kind of experience forces people back into books rather than pulling them away the way so much television does these days.
Now, that leads to two questions. One, in our hearings in Los Angeles, one of the more, I think, surprising testimonies to most of us was the testimony of a young woman who was the custodian of an ethnically oriented, but nevertheless basically home movie collection. And I wondered if the same thing that is true of documentaries is not also true of home movies, and if there is any rational way of collecting and sorting and preserving those materials? That is my first question.
And my second question is if you, not only as a distinguished producer of documentary films and distributor of them, but also as a lawyer, if you saw any way in which laws or regulations, federal or otherwise, could be changed to encourage more preservation in the documentary group?
MR. WISEMAN: Well, the last part is easier to answer because I would say I was physically present in law school. [Laughter.] I have never practiced and do not even keep up with the laws that relate to this.
DR. BILLINGTON: Is there a documentary of your physical presence? [Laughter.]
MR. WISEMAN: Fortunately not. And as far as home movies are concerned, I have not really thought about that. I suppose I have a parochial interest in first attacking the problem or trying to do something about the problem of documentary movies. I agree with you. If there was a way of collecting some home movies, the problem is that there is such a volume of them that you would have to obviously, and similarly with documentary film, be enormously selective.
MR. TABB: I think we need to end now. We are over our time but we appreciate very much your responses to the questions. If I could call Mr. Prelinger now to the table? Statement of Richard Prelinger, President, Prelinger Associates, Inc.
MR. PRELINGER: I am speaking today as president of Prelinger Associates, Inc., one of the largest private collections of what I call "ephemeral films", that is to say, films produced for a specific purpose at a specific time. Our collection contains educational, industrial, advertising and amateur films as well as a great deal of unedited material, approximately 9000 hours in all. Unlike most other collections or archives that will be represented here, we derive our income primarily from licensing archival footage.
Although ephemeral films have not received much attention from scholars and historians, in fact these genres have numerically dominated American cinema for most of its history. Since the advent of the talkies in 1927, I estimate that over 600,000 of these, plus an uncountable number of amateur films, have been produced in this country. Many were made to show in theaters and, as such, should be part of any consideration of film history. But the majority reached their audiences on school days, at community meetings or in the workplace.
Webster's defines ephemeral as anything lasting but a brief time, and this has been the situation with regard to these mostly obscure films. No one knows how many survive but perhaps as many as 50% no longer exist.
No logical principle governs what has survived and what has disappeared. No archive is equipped logistically or financially to house the huge number of remaining films and an infinitesimal percentage has been preserved. In fact, they are one of American film's best kept secrets.
So why bother to preserve films like The Wonderful World of Wash and Wear, Rochester: A City of Quality or Dating Dos and Don'ts? I would suggest that these are our national home movies, the best and most vivid records of our public and private lives, how Americans have lived, worked, thought and consumed.
Recently I was invited to visit Britton, a town in eastern South Dakota. It seems that during the Depression a man named Ivan Besse, an enterprising projectionist, tried to boost attendance at the Strand Theater. So he took his camera out to Main Street to shoot films of people visiting town on Saturday. Later, he also shot cornhusking bees, WPA workers building a dam and sheriffs taking prisoners to jail. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, when business was slow, he showed these 16mm pictures at the Strand.
When TV came to South Dakota, Ivan's efforts to corral audiences were no longer successful. He lost the theater in the sixties and the films were sold for 50 cents to a woman in Texas. Later, they came to me and when the mayor Britton found this out, I was invited to bring them back to the Strand. 53 years later, Ivan hosted a screening of his films in the same old theater, narrating them in front of an audience who pointed out their younger selves promenading on the screen. I have never seen people talk back, call out and interact with a movie like that audience did, for they saw images of their town surviving what in South Dakota what they called "the dirty thirties" as best it could, and that meant a great deal to them. They saw the rich public life of Main Street crowed with shoppers, gawkers and flirting teens, community rituals like proms, distributions of Christmas presents and Memorial Day parades and the faces of people, their manners and body language of fifty years ago. One person even saw her older sister for the first time for her sister had died before she was born.
Somewhere in the forgotten industrial, advertising or educational film there is something for every one of us, scenes of our hometown, pictures of how our fathers and mothers worked for a living, a treatise on social etiquette or maybe the look of a twenties farm or fifties supermarket and you will not see many of these everyday images in newsreels and feature films.
Since 1984, we have supplied footage to over 2000 film and video producers, researchers and scholars seeking imagery and historical documentation unavailable from any other source. Images from our collection are routinely seen on PBS's American Experience and NOVA, on network news programs, in documentaries and independent productions and, of course, in numerous commercials and corporate shows.
I think this testifies to the importance of and demand for this material. We are now fielding requests from publishers of electronic books, interactive and other kinds of emerging media. Their products, if enhanced by carefully curated moving images, promise to nurture historical consciousness in future generations and we have brought one project that we have done to show how this material can acquire life in the optic media. It is outside.
But no foreseeable increase in business activity will permit more than token efforts on our part to preserve our over 23,000 completed films and 40,000 cans of unedited footage. And this I am afraid is the situation all repositories of ephemeral films face, whether public or private.
I urge the board to look beyond recognized masterworks and to consider the importance of ephemeral films and the state of their preservation which, unhappily, is not significant at this time. I hope you will make generous provision for them in your report and recommend that these historical materials receive their proper share of attention and funding under a future national moving image preservation plan, whether they are held by public or private custodians. Their preservation and ready accessibility will send a powerful message to future generations, that the history of daily life is not just a matter of nostalgia or quaintness but a means of understanding the heritage of our own communities, lives and labors. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Mr. Prelinger. Are there questions? John?
MR. BELTON: Just to follow up on your last point, you mentioned that your commercial exploitation of your holdings has not generated enough income to finance their preservation. If there were some sort of national, public preservation, exactly what relationship would it hold to your holdings? That is, if material within your collection were to be preserved, what would the status of this material be in terms of public access or your own access? How would you envision a deal?
MR. PRELINGER: Well, this has been a tough nut to crack lately, but I feel very strongly about making material available to people that need it. I should say that we deal with hundreds of independent film and videomakers every year who do not have money, and that we still are able to work for them simply for the cost of duplication.
I also believe strongly in a rich public domain, which is one of the reasons that we have been able to derive income from exploiting these films, and I think that we have to figure out what the public stake in material would be if it is preserved at public expense. I think if public funds are used that some kind of access without charge will ultimately be necessary, perhaps after a window.
MR. SHEFTER: Mr. Prelinger, the panel has heard a call for creating some form of national database of materials. I know that your Footage '89 represented a rather large database of material primarily on stock footage and other types of films. Perhaps you could help us in telling us how you put that together. Did you get cooperation from all sectors? And how valid was the information you received?
MR. PRELINGER: Beginning in 1987, we surveyed every actual or suspected repository of moving image material that we could think of in North America. We ended up listing in that book and in the revision somewhere in the neighborhood of 1750 sources. There were many we could not list or for whom we could not elicit information.
One of the things that became very clear in the process of preparing a reference is that the state of information is pretty terrible. There is a national database in the works, NAMID, the National Moving Image Database. We are going to begin to upload records to them because I feel strongly that should represent non-theatrical material as well. But we found that we had to include a great deal of anecdotal information that archivists or public service people at the collections would tell us. And also the decentralization makes it very difficult to have a broad picture of what actually still exists in this country. You can go to the back closet of a university media center anywhere in the country and find unique material. Or you can find government-produced films that are not in the National Archives.
MR. SHEFTER: So if we were to run a so-called national survey of materials either that had been preserved or should be preserved, we should question the results of that, based on your experience? The information received from the various repositories?
MR. PRELINGER: I think that the outreach needs to go beyond the repositories with which we are very familiar. And I know that this has been part of the history of AFI, that it has looked all over the place. But if we expand this search to work that is not just features, we will have to look in much different places.
MR. TABB: Fay?
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: In terms of your own library or others that you know of, what is the state of preservation of a lot of your material now? What media were they done in? What is holding up and what is not?
MR. PRELINGER: In almost every obsolete and current film format you can imagine. We are not equipped to collect videotapes, so we do not.
Until recently, we were able to take refuge in the fact that, since we were primarily collecting safety, what little nitrate material we have, we could put it off until we had a little more money. Suddenly that is no longer true. Because of the vinegar syndrome, our holdings in nitrate have become much more significant.
We would like to preserve nitrate material and certainly safety films which are probably of the greatest historical value, but I think we have to wait. I think a lot of people in the stock footage business and the archival sector look to the turn of the century and the millennial consciousness as a means of generating a considerable interest and possibly income out of their holdings.
So the other thing we do which I think I would like to mention is we collect preprint material on ephemeral films. Archives like Iowa State, which also collect this material, are not able, in the absence of funding, to preserve this material. I think this is a very good idea to try to find preprint elements and safeguard them.
MR. FRANCIS: I just wanted to follow up something that Milt said. I do not know whether you plan to revise your stock footage directory regularly, but I was wondering about the possibility of your sending out questionnaires, because I am very reluctant to start yet more surveys, if there are surveys that already exist or could be slightly modified to question all of these people about what in their collections they feel is most valuable to them and most in danger? We could then get some picture of all these collections and find out what people individually feel is most in danger. Then, we would have some idea of what are the most important elements in this field, and the most important things that could be done. Would that be possible, do you think?
MR. PRELINGER: I think that is an excellent idea. I should say that nobody seemed to respond to questionnaires. We had to make about 10,000 telephone calls. But beyond that, the message of this is that we will find a lot of unexpected repositories, including stock footage collections, have unique material. We are familiar with the newsreel problem, that is an example of that.
MR. TABB: All right. Thank you very much.
MR. PRELINGER: Thank you.
MR. TABB: I would like to call now our panel from the educational community, Professors Gomery, Gunning, and Kolker. While this panel is getting settled, I would remind people that Mr. Prelinger has brought a videodisc which is out in the foyer. When we have our break for lunch, please stop and see what he has brought. Thank you very much for bringing that. Can we begin now? Statement of Douglas Gomery, Professor of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park
MR. GOMERY: Good morning. My name is Douglas Gomery and I have prepared a statement which I have put into the record. I always wondered having watched C-SPAN for years how I should do this, and so I have looked at various models and I will use the Jack Valenti model. [Laughter.] The Jack Valenti model is you prepare a statement and then you try to talk about it and make the points. I will not do as well as Jack because I will not tell a lot of great, funny anecdotes that I had a staff look up because I do not have a staff. [Laughter.] I have three points. Point one, and I speak for myself as a teacher, as a person who entered this field, like John Belton, 20 years ago or so, and remember the battles, as an author of nine books and 300 articles and, I am proud to say, several thousand reviews.
My first statement is I think this is not a problem of current energies or of focus. I guess I humbly disagree with some people on this matter. I think that this meeting this morning is testimony. I live in Washington and I guarantee you that this is the most well- attended meeting of today. Everybody else's kids are out of school, every school system has closed down. I came in this morning thinking there would be about three people here. My spouse who studies health care and is working with President Clinton will have many less people at her meetings than I will.
I do not think it is energy. I think these people work extraordinarily hard and, speaking as a media economist, for relatively low wages given what they could do otherwise. I look at people like Greg Lukow and I just wonder what makes people like that go. I can only think missionary zeal, a kind of religious metaphor. I do not think that is the problem. I think a little tinkering here, a little tinkering there is all we need.
So what is the problem? I think the problems, in my opinion, are two things. First is the nature of the issue at hand, and the second more important problem, that is, of course, resources.
The nature at hand is, and, I think here Fred Wiseman said it better than I will, to use my metaphor, we are fighting the last war. I think most people that I know and I think the general consensus would be that we ought to save motion pictures. But I think that is to lose sight of what we ought to really be focusing on saving, which is less trendy, less hip, less educationally viable to my colleagues in the universities--my apologies to these, of course, enlightened colleagues--and that is television.
Television is where the Fred Wisemans of the next generation, to use Dr. Billington's expression, will get their footage, will recognize what a school board meeting in Washington, D.C., looked like in 1992, will recognize what people discussed and wore, etc.
And irony of irony, it is not the national television news; it is the local television news. This is what captures the texture of a community, the texture of our society. We have a channel here called NewsChannel 8, 24-hour CNN local news, all day, all night. And they really document the nature of this community. They do not document the nature of the president's jogs; they do not document these kinds of hearings; they document ordinary, day-to-day activities that three-and-a-half, four million people that make up Washington live by.
And we do not save that, and we are not--NewsChannel 8 is taping over its tapes just as most news organizations are doing; we are not saving anything.
Vanderbilt is on shaky grounds. Other news archives are what we used to call pirated and in-house and hidden in the closet, etc.
So I would argue that the problem of focus needs not to be narrowed or specified, but to be expanded.
So now we know what the next question is, which is the proper question which my colleague George Stevens, Jr. brought up and I have heard at these kinds of meetings for years and years and years, and that, of course, is the problem of resources.
As an economist, I am familiar with this. My spouse is really after resources. She studies Medicare; we are talking there billions and billions of dollars. When I told her my proposal for this, she kind of chuckled. The rounding error in her community is $100 million. So what is the argument?
The argument is, and I think Dr. Billington stated it, others have stated it. The argument is that this material is absolutely necessary for the education of today and in the future. It is not ephemeral; it is not tangential; it is at the core of what we do. It documents the world; it explains the world; it is our primary cultural artifacts of the world. So to not have libraries, to use that metaphor, of moving image collections is not to have libraries of books in the nineteenth century. It just to me makes no sense.
So that is the first step. The first step is it is an educational goal. It is an educational motivation. It is an educational drive, centerpiece. So that is the first.
The second step is it is a national education demand, not just state and local. State and local is how we organize education in the United States. We have great state universities; we have great local institutions. But some material, some activities need to be done on a national basis. I think this is one of them. I think we need a national library of moving image material like we have a national library of books that Dr. Billington looks over.
So the question is what to do. Well, I propose that the fairest means of raising money for a national archive, a national institution to meet educational goals is what I call a user tax. I think the fairest kind of tax--we have heard a lot of data about taxes in the United States--is a tax in which people recognize what the goal is. I think that people are willing to pay a certain amount for an energy tax because they realize the goal is to reduce pollution and have positive contributions to society. So I propose a user tax.
A user tax encompasses the people who produce and the people who distribute and the people who use moving image materials. That is everybody. That is everybody.
So I propose a 1% sales tax and revenue tax on the production and distribution of all moving image materials. This will raise, I estimate by my calculations, $500 million per year, and I think it will then also be passed on, in part, not totally, in part--this is called tax incidence--to users like us, and you, [and] everyone else, which will mean 2 cents or 3 cents more for rental of a videotape, 5 cents more for going to the movies, etc. And that way, because it will be passed on, as taxes on corporations traditionally are, and I could cite that literature for you if you want me to, we will all pay. The studios and other organizations will not take the full burden, they will take part of the burden, but they should take part of the burden. They are taking part of the benefit. We are taking part of the benefit, we should take part of the burden.
So I propose that we need a dedicated specific tax aimed at education and that is what I think would help solve this problem. Thank you very much.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Mr. Gunning? Statement of Tom Gunning, Associate Professor and Acting Chairman, Film Program, State University of New York, College at Purchase, representing The Society for Cinema Studies
MR. GUNNING: I am Tom Gunning from the State University of New York-Purchase. I guess my model will be to stick to the script. [Laughter.] I am speaking here both as an individual scholar involved in researching and writing the history of American cinema and also as a representative of the Society for Cinema Studies (SCS), the professional society for film study in the United States whose more than a thousand members teach and write about the cinema. Although our membership is based in the academy, both professors and graduate students, it also includes other serious film researchers and other film study professionals such as film archivists.
I would say that as film professionals, most of whom are involved both in research and in the teaching of film study, we members of SCS are concerned about film preservation at both ends of the chain. For us individual researchers the preservation of our film heritage constitutes the very material of our work. The vast strides that film study has made over the last two or three decades comes directly from the fact that our generation had the opportunity of looking closely at actual prints of films which film historians and theorists of an earlier period often had access to only through memory or from printed sources. Clearly we feel the need for preservation most intently because films are the substance of our work, our curiosity, and I should add our passion.
At the other end of the chain comes conveying the results of our research. Those of us involved in teaching are also dedicated to passing on our discoveries and our delights down to another generation. Most of us in this room, I think, came from a generation for whom film viewing was a natural passion shared by most members of the society and it hardly seemed a necessity to teach a love and interest in cinema to anyone. But the generation we are now teaching are not as naturally attuned to the film image as we were and, although we live in a constant environment of visual images, they often seem to be more the victims of those visual assaults than their masters.
As professionals involved in film study, I feel we are teaching a form of visual literacy and, although much of this literacy involves contemporary issues, I also feel that a knowledge of the history of film, where it came from and how it developed, is essential for visual education. As teachers, we are a sort of medium of preservation as well as the critique of film culture. And for this task we need film preservation not only to provide materials for research but also to allow our students to directly experience the texts of our film heritage.
I am therefore adding my voice to those of archivists in pleading for the immense importance of preserving our film heritage which for technical reasons is the most fragile of our arts and for commercial reasons one of the most difficult to preserve. But I would also like to add to that central plea that the planning for preservation should also consider the availability and circulation of films. We need, in other words, not only to preserve films in archives but to increase availability of these films not only to those scholars lucky enough to live in proximity to archives or wealthy enough to take long trips, but also to classrooms across the nation and to students who need to see something of the vast range of our film heritage beyond what is available at the local video store or those films considered commercially profitable in the ever-shrinking market of 16mm film rentals.
I believe that addressing the availability of films to students and to film scholars for teaching purposes completes the purposes of film preservation by allowing such films to become a living part of our heritage. Therefore, I would urge that a consideration of film preservation not take place in a vacuum but consider a strategy for intersecting with film education.
As a historian, I tend to look to specific events for guidance in understanding the way history functions and I think that a very strong example for the way issues in film preservation should be approached lies in the Paper Print Collection of the Library of Congress. It was this extraordinary collection of film that helped revolutionize the study of early cinema in this country and my own book on the early films of D.W. Griffith depended on it enormously.
As you are undoubtedly aware, this collection was basically an accident, originally established to plug a loophole in the copyright laws before they covered motion pictures, and never intended as a means of film preservation. However, in the 1940s, Harold Lamarr Walls, a clerk in the Library of Congress, discovered this cache of paper film and recognized its unique value. The rescuing of this collection and its transfer to 16mm film not only addressed therefore preserving it but also provided a means of making it available to scholars and other interested viewers.
Since anyone can purchase a print of a film from this collection--although unfortunately the cost has increased a great deal in recent years--it has provided not only a tool of research but the core of several university teaching collections on the history of early film as well as personal collections of scholars, aficionados and filmmakers. The decision to consider how to make these films available is one of the aspects that makes this collection not only valuable but powerful in revising our notions of early film history.
A second aspect of this collection raises another point regarding preservation that I would like to stress. The preservation of the Paper Print Collection was not selective. It included films by great directors like Griffith, Mack Sennett or Edwin S. Porter, as well as silly comedies by anonymous directors and advertising films. All of the very sorts of films preserved in the Paper Print Collection have yielded discoveries about the development of American cinema and its relation to American culture. I am still making discoveries in it.
As Patrick Loughney of the Library of Congress has pointed out in his research on the Paper Print Collection, the very variety of the collection appealed to the Librarian of Congress during its discovery, Archibald MacLeish.
MacLeish favored creating a film archive which would deal not only with the preservation of film as an aesthetic form but also as a part of America's history, society and popular culture. I would stress the importance of such collections. This is partly because aesthetic values are always changing and we often discover our strongest art works in categories previously treated with contempt. But beyond this, film is perhaps the most resolutely social of all art forms, involving complex intersections of industry, technology, capital and a range of makers and audiences. Therefore, its value not only for film historians but for historians of culture becomes particularly intense.
I would stress, then, that film preservation should be focused not only the preservation of feature films which often receive the greatest comment and attention because they have professional publicists whose jobs are precisely to make such films highly visible. Film preservation needs to be especially scrupulous in ferreting out and preserving films which were often made with minority audiences in view, ranging from the films of the avant-garde to those of specific ethnic groups or geographical areas.
Preserving the work of avant-garde filmmakers, African American, Yiddish or regional filmmakers in Maine, Florida or Salt Lake City is harder because there was less invested in the film's distribution or publicity. But for film history they are precious indeed and for reasons which we can not always predict in advance.
I strongly applaud the movement the Library of Congress has begun to make in this direction in the last few years, showing that our heritage of distinguished films need not be limited to the most familiar and widely recognized titles but needs to consider those works especially in need of highlighting and preservation because of their neglect or marginalization within a commercial industry.
Film archives have been doing a heroic job in this area and need further support and recognition. Again, these films which were always so little distributed need to be made available for teaching and study as well as preservation.
At the beginning of this month I traveled to the University of Chicago for a screening of the magnificent restoration of D.W. Griffith's masterpiece Intolerance undertaken by the Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress. This restored print has been shown five times around the world accompanied by an orchestra score restored and conducted by Gillian Anderson. And I have had the good fortune to attend four of those screenings, three in this country and one in Italy.
However, at present, I can only tell my students about this extraordinarily restored version while I project a 16mm print which I now consider inadequate to Griffith's original conception of the film. The restoration of Intolerance is a magnificent work and I applaud it heartily. But in some senses its preservation will only be complete when it is available to a larger range of viewers.
I cannot stress enough the importance of film preservation in the teaching of American culture and preservation in the broadest sense also means carefully considering strategies for availability. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Professor Kolker? Statement of Robert Kolker, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Maryland, College Park MR. KOLKER: Robert Kolker, University of Maryland. And one of the benefits of being last is that I get a chance to summarize and set forward some of the points of my colleagues.
Like them, I want to speak on behalf of the growing number of educators using film as part of the classroom process either as an aid or complement to the central subject matter or as the central concern of their curriculum. The latter is of particular interest to me because my career is devoted to the study and teaching of film.
The number of cinema studies courses grows yearly. Colleges and universities are either adding film studies departments and programs or situating course offerings in existing departments. Introductory courses are showing up in community colleges and even high schools are beginning to express interest. The need to teach young people how to read, analyze and understand the moving image, the form in which most people get the stories the culture wants to tell them, and the desire of young people to make such images on their own is placing more and more institutions on alert.
As programs grow or are created, access to material becomes an increasingly serious concern. How do students get to see films and how do the teacher-scholars who teach film get to study the form and learn its history so that they can teach it well, not only to their students but to the public at large for whom they write their books and articles?
How do those institutions like community colleges and high schools that do not have access to experienced film teachers or budgets for expensive film rentals provide the education their students want and need?
And what of the choices for preservation? The emphasis seems to be on 35mm theatrical features, which are certainly of central interest to many film scholars. But thought has to be given to the independent film, the work of the avant-garde and the recent upsurge in films by and about women and minorities, gays and lesbians.
The board needs to direct some of its attention to some of these marginal works, because they are central to important cultural issues, and think about them not only in terms of preservation but of availability as well. Here are films with no corporate structure to help preserve or distribute them.
The National Film Preservation Board needs to confront a number of issues beyond those concerned simply with the preservation of existing theatrical films. It needs to be concerned with questions of scope and access. To say that a particular title has been saved from deterioration, that a color, nitrate positive has been transferred to three safety black-and- white negatives and put in cold storage is a triumph indeed but an incomplete one.
What is the value of an expensive act of preservation if the results are inaccessible? If scholars and students cannot see the results, if the only access to the particular film is still through a scratched and spliced 16mm dupe or, more likely, a poorly resolved video recording, who profits from the preservation? Pedagogy and the history of film do not. The unseen remains the unknown.
At the very least I would suggest the Library of Congress should be enabled to make viewing copies of every film that becomes part of the preservation process. Further, as copyright problems are worked out and negotiated, there should be a mechanism developed for the larger public availability of these preserved titles. Right now, the LC offers, I believe, certain borrowing privileges to recognized archives. These privileges might be extended to accredited universities. Efforts should be made to arrange traveling exhibits, perhaps of the programs presented at the Pickford Theater, for example.
Finally, an educational outreach program needs to be instituted either as part of the preservation board or perhaps more reasonably as a separate entity. No such program exists in the country at this time. The American Film Institute has put its concentrations elsewhere. There is no central location for finding prints, arranging screenings, publishing study guides, filmographies, bibliographies. The Motion Picture Division of the Library of Congress provides a basic and wonderful reference service that could serve as the base of an expanded operation that could publish introductory and advanced materials, training in film studies pedagogy and perhaps viewing material in some usable form.
I expect that many of the country's leading film scholars would be interested in taking part in such an operation as part of the service component of their research. And certainly Doug Gomery's notion of revenues from a user tax could be used for such a service.
Visual narratives are the fundamental transmission forms of our culture's immediate thoughts, beliefs and fantasies. They need to be understood and such understanding requires education and access. Preservation is the beginning of a process that can, with some of the additional elements outlined above, lead to the perpetuation of knowledge. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much. Milt, I think you had the first question.
MR. SHEFTER: Professor Gomery, I know Jack Valenti and you, sir...(pause) did very well. [Laughter.]
MR. GOMERY: Thank you. I take that as a very high compliment.
MR. SHEFTER: I cannot speak for Mr. Valenti, but I think he would have been pleased with your presentation although not your proposal on taxation. [Laughter.]
MR. GOMERY: I am sure of that.
MR. SHEFTER: I would like to get into that a little bit and, by the way, on behalf of the panel I would like to thank you for coming forth with a very positive suggestion for revenue. We have been hearing virtually nothing but requests for an ever expanding realm of material to be preserved.
In your proposal, and you have suggested that we be more comprehensive and include television, I do not see any taxation on television or any of the other things that you wish preserved and I am kind of curious as to how this idea of yours would work.
How would it function and how would the money be distributed should it be collected?
MR. GOMERY: Well, let me read it. I was just trying to summarize. In fact, just to be absolutely specific, I did not do as well as Jack might. I meant television absolutely as well. No question about it. It would be much less of a figure if television was not included.
To pay for this, I am reading, I am sorry, but let me be precise. To pay for this, I propose a user tax. That is, those of us who gain entertainment information from moving images, insight and fun both from film and television should be willing to contribute a tiny portion of what we spend on purchase and rental to maintain preservation. I suggest a 1% of all gross sales and rentals and television advertising expenditures of all films and television.
I think such a tax would yield $500 million a year, every year, not just one year, and that it would be a regular, ongoing source of funding. I think one of the things that my colleagues point out--Tom did a terrific job--is the ups and downs, the inconsistencies. We have some things saved from some eras because we are lucky that funding was available or people were industrious, and in some areas we have nothing. It is really the vagaries of the budget process that leads to that, which I think is a shame. So I think we need something permanent.
I think it would not be just television stations, television networks, movie studios, television producers, etc., all just contributing because I think that as economists would suggest they would slightly increase their prices, pass it down the system, and so that we would all contribute just as the arguments that are going on at the moment for raising the corporate rate. The rise in the corporate tax that President Clinton has proposed, virtually all economists that I have seen and heard of would suggest that that in part will be passed on to all of us and it will be, just as this would be.
MR. SHEFTER: And your mechanism for the distribution of these funds?
MR. GOMERY: Well, I see that as less of a problem, I think, if by the stroke of serendipity or whatever, some larger force than I, it would happen. Let me preface.
I think government works. I am a fan of government. I think some of the greatest things that have been contributed in the United States of America in our 200-year history that I have studied intensively have been done by government. I do not believe, as some of my fellow Washingtonians, that everything that touches government is bad. I think that is a fallacious assumption, that is a narrow reading of history and that is dead wrong. So I think that [the mechanism might be] a board, a panel--and I mulled this over, asking my spouse who does know how these things work better than I. I would put it in the Education Department, and I would make it responsible for creating libraries and access, as my colleagues have articulated much more clearly than I have. First you have to preserve and then you can provide access, but you cannot do either without money.
MR. SHEFTER: Thank you.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: I want to address a question to our counsel here as a result of your proposal, Doug. Has a user tax in this form ever been proposed and what was the reaction to it?
MR. SCHWARTZ: I do not think one has ever been proposed.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: No one has ever proposed that particular way of raising funds?
MR. GOMERY: Then I suggest we should call it the Gomery Tax. [Laughter.]
MS. MELVILLE [staff member speaking at request of Mr. Tabb]: Jean Firstenberg told me at one point that she had recommended a tax on videocassette rental.
MR. GOMERY: Actually, she said to me at one point.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: Yes. I just wondered if it had ever flown?
And then a question to Mr. Kolker. You talked about educational outreach. Would you see a particular database just for the educational community or would a national database serve those needs?
MR. KOLKER: I think that the building of a national database should be sufficient and I think, as we all know who are working in electronic libraries, that databases are only as good as the software that allows access to them. And so it may be useful to have varieties of access, different kinds of software for different kinds of users that would access more or less information, whatever a particular user needed. So there might be a particular educational software package to get into that database and no reason to provide more than that.
MR. KOLKER: To have a separate entity.
MR. FRANCIS: Could I just follow up on Fay's question just for a moment? And I would also like to ask another one.
There was a lot of discussion in Europe about a tax on blank videocassettes because blank videocassettes are used for time shifting. This could be used as a source of funding for film and television preservation because the blank videocassette is mainly used for time shifting purposes. The idea never got anywhere in the end because the manufacturers' lobby successfully killed it. But that was one that was discussed quite widely in several European countries.
And the other question I would like to ask and I think it is really addressed to Tom. One of the other people testifying mentioned that there was a lot of expertise, particularly all the people who teach and are involved in film studies, which could be valuable to archives as far as advising them on what should be preserved and what should be made available. Often I think archivists feel they are working on their own. They very seldom receive requests specifically to preserve or to acquire or make available a particular film.
In SCS, do you ever have discussions amongst your membership in order to draw up lists of films that you particularly want to see available which are not currently available? It would be extremely valuable to archivists to have such lists. I do not know whether you do that.
MR. GUNNING: There is, and I think actually John Belton would be able to answer this even better. There has been for several years in the Society for Cinema Studies a subcommittee on film availability which, I think, John was at least a member of and may still be, which was partly involved although primarily in terms of making information available about commercial rental of 16mm prints for classroom use.
But it is in place, I think, to address the type of issue that you are talking about. Since both of us are here, we can see to it. But I might ask John if he has any further comment on that.
MR. BELTON: I think the interesting issue that has been brought up has to do with the relationship of the academic community to the archival community. The testimony that all of you have presented is one which expands the parameters of preservation to include access and availability.
SCS has concentrated so far solely on non-theatrical distribution and the availability of films in this area. In fact, I would turn it around and ask all of you perhaps to comment on models of availability that perhaps already exist. For example, the Museum of Modern Art has a circulating library and the Museum of Modern Art is one of the only archives in this country that attempts to distribute the materials that it holds in its collection, as well as some materials from the Eastman House collection. Is this a viable model for both creating bridges between the academic community, the general public which is being serviced by the academic community (that is, college students and so forth), and the archives as part of a larger preservation plan? Anyone?
MR. KOLKER: Well, would another model be Bill Blakefield's unit at the [National] Archives?
MR. BELTON: Could you explain that?
MR. KOLKER: Where he distributes and circulates material from that group. There is a different problem, obviously, because there is not a copyright problem with the products that are circulated out of the Archives. One of the elements that I am interested in is whether the Board or some other organization can begin a negotiation process in which the copyright problem is made somewhat less severe so that prints or other forms, other media, are made available.
I am concerned with the fact that 16mm format is becoming less and less useful to us because of expense and because of the appalling quality of those films. So I felt a bit constrained, because I know that the charge of the Board is not to consider alternative media but I am wondering if perhaps [after] the preservation of a given print, the manufacture of a laserdisc version would be considered and that disc be available for either purchase or distribution, circulation, if the appropriate contracts could be worked out.
DR. BILLINGTON: I would really welcome any thoughts that you have on how one deals with the copyright problem in order to distribute films. That is the fundamental problem. The paper print distribution, which is another model that you have mentioned, all three models that you have mentioned as positive, simply do not have the problem of copyright. If you are going to get into a serious distribution program of the films, you are going to have to deal with this.
The Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress, and we are not only obliged but we think it right and proper to be vigilant custodians of the intellectual property rights and so forth. But I see a situation emerging in another area where, despite reassurances that copyright will be respected, some of the more aggressive special interest lobbyists--let me put it directly and bluntly, you need only read today's paper--by getting certain issues into certain agendas and with the cooperation of the media, these special interests are able to simply misrepresent and, in effect, undercut the possibility of added services in needed areas that can be performed by the nation's libraries by raising this problem as a bugaboo.
Now, it seems to me what we need is some creative way both of solving the added distribution problem and respecting intellectual property rights. We would not do it at the Library of Congress, and I do not think the other repository institutions would do it in any way that did not respect the laws of the country. But this is being presented by people who are in many cases more Catholic than the Pope on this issue as, in effect, an obstacle. It is being constantly thrown out to frighten corporate executives.
The Library of Congress is part of the legislative branch of government. We are not a lobbying organization so we are in unequal combat with people who are, in effect, preventing added new services of distribution by simply presenting this as an obstacle.
Now, what is the practical way to deal with this, since we are in unequal combat? We are not a public relations and sales organization; we are a public service organization. We are trying to expand public services, but we do have to have some way of presenting this argument and of coming up with a formula. Because, if there is going to be an added, more aggressive distribution program, as there surely should be, there is going to have to be some way of answering these questions besides reassuring people that it is going to happen, so I appreciate any thoughts you have on it.
This is a very practical and current problem for a whole range of questions. Because, frankly, I can say that in the current budgetary climate, in my view, unless great public institutions are going to be able to extend their services the people who are lobbying intensively against the extension of services are going to destroy the great public institutions because there are not the dynamics of support as such. It is easier, if you are in prison in California today, to get access to a library than if you are in a public high school, and that situation is getting worse and worse all the time.
I see this question of extending services not only as important intrinsically for better teaching and better understanding of our world, but for the survival of institutions that are being severely undercut, and may even be destroyed, by the shortsighted attempt to create problems which do not exist in fact, but are made to exist, because of the preference of the media to dramatize problems rather than to talk about opportunities. This is a very serious practical problem that affects us all. I really would appreciate any thoughts you have on this.
MR. KOLKER: I am absolute novice in terms of copyright law and I can only think of it in an administrative gambit which would be studio-by-studio or even individual-by- individual discussion.
For example, I have noticed in my own discussions and from my own work a very slight opening of the door at Warner Bros. There is a gentleman, I believe vice president in charge of properties, who has expressed verbally to me that he is interested in the work of film scholarship. That alone is an extraordinary statement. And perhaps this is one way, to locate these individuals who are indicating exactly what you say, a recognition that there is a problem and a possibility that they may at least initiate a discussion to solve it.
I think a lot of it is as exactly as you say. It is a smokescreen because it means work for them. It means work for the studio to begin dealing with their own entangled copyright situation. But the only way to do it that I know of is to begin talking, and to explain the problem in those terms, with that kind of eloquence, and to see where the points of entry exist.
MR. TABB: Do the other speakers want to respond to this question?
MR. GUNNING: Well, one brief point that I think I would make: expanded distribution and exhibition of films of the sort that I am thinking. I do not have a Gunning Plan to match the Gomery Tax, but I think there are ways maybe to go about it that do not necessarily involve violation of copyright or even of ownership.
One of the things that I think is very extraordinary to keep in mind--and it is generally kind of a problem but it actually is also an opportunity--is the fact that film is one of the few art forms that makes money. And consequently there are ways, I think, to run distribution and exhibition with just a lower profit margin or no profit that would not necessarily collapse if copyright royalties and duties had to be observed.
One of the things that strikes me around this country, although I tend to agree with Professor Gomery that government is a beneficent thing, it is behind things that pop up otherwise. In almost every large urban center and in many small urban centers--I know a few out in the country--there are not-for-profit film theaters that are set up. They partly proceed by grants, but they basically just are able to run on a kind of flat profit scheme. Their idea is primarily to bring films to communities and things like that.
Now, those have not been organized by a government. But I think there would be a possibility of working that out, and also that there is already a kind of network of such places in existence, that they also could be a framework from which one could think about a not-for-profit distribution scheme, which would not necessarily have to totally upset or throw out copyright in any sense, but that would precisely be able to proceed because it would not be aimed at making a profit, just hopefully covering expenses.
It is interesting for me, in New York City recently Cineplex Odeon took over a repertory theater that had shown old films in New York and closed it. They said they did not close it because it was not making any money; it was actually making money. It is just that if they were showing Indiana Jones they could make a lot more money.
So there are possibilities, I think, in terms of film exhibition and distribution that even within existing schema that if it was rethought could make availability much more possible.
MR. TABB: David?
MR. FRANCIS: There is one possible model, and that is the model of the record industry. Every time a record is played, this is reported back, and a certain amount of funding is allocated to the copyright owner. It may be worth looking at that as a possible model for film distribution. The problem is the collection costs are usually very high indeed--
MR. GOMERY: So we need an ASCAP-BMI equivalent.
MR. FRANCIS: Exactly. Yes. One would like to find a way where the collection costs were not so great, but you could achieve the same end.
MR. GOMERY: To answer Dr. Billington, I believe in the countervailing theory of special interests. I read with sympathy the article in the Style Section of the Washington Post this morning, and can understand how you must have felt, somewhat beleaguered. But I think the educational institutions should rise up and argue that this material is important for education; this is important for the future of the country. Secretary Reich of the Labor Department has made an articulate case for labor and training as being the sole future of the United States, and I think that this is part of it. I do not believe it is the whole thing, but it is certainly part of it. I think that countervailing forces should be sent in. I would think my colleagues, and I think the NEA and other pretty effective institutions in Washington should say, "Yes, we realize there are copyright problems." We as authors know about copyright; we get statements every year and worry about xeroxing of our books. I have walked in the library many times and watched people xerox my books and the flow of funds circulating somewhere else.
So I am very sympathetic, but I think that David is absolutely right, that non-profit, cooperative institutions have to be set up to recognize the educational mission that this is about to undertake. We are not trying to drive the studios out of business, we are trying to increase their interests. We are trying to say to people, look, this is the most important material of the twentieth century. We think it is not just something to sell, we think it is the fabric of our culture. We think this is terrific and we are trying to extend it. We are not trying to limit it. We are trying to get more people interested.
I always think the analogy is when videotape was proposed and begun in the seventies, my role model and others, Mr. Valenti, went crazy: "Oh, this will be the end of the movie industry, nobody will go to the movies, theaters will close, 20,000 will close down." Well, there are more movie cinemas now, more movie screens showing movies, than at any time in history. There are more people spending money on movies. There are more people watching movies in more forms than any other time in history. It did not suppress things; it expanded them. Hollywood was the big winner with videotape, not the loser.
Educating people, getting people interested, learning, excitement--that is the name of the game, not carving this up. And I think that our educational colleagues deserve to speak on this.
MR. KOLKER: He's [Gomery] pointed out often in his work that the studios have fought every new transmission or form of media that they ultimately profited from. Maybe there is now some argument that can be made to convince them that they do not have to repeat the first part of that cycle.
It also occurs to me that, if I understand conversations with the librarians of motion pictures over the years, that in many instances studios request the Library to make copies or to make deposit prints for them, and I am wondering if a contractual agreement can be made. If the Library is going to do this, the Library must also have the rights for some kind of educational distribution.
MR. TABB: I would like to call on the Board's counsel, Eric Schwartz, to make a few comments at this point.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Winston. Let me clarify a few things, because several issues have been raised over the years on these points.
First, to calm the fears of copyright owners, a few terms should be clarified and narrowed, the first being what is meant by educational use, enumerating the difference between a classroom use versus what is essentially a commercial use such as use in a book or other similar project.
Second, we can further narrow the scope of what we are talking about by defining narrowly what is meant by public domain, that is, materials that are older than 75 years, and not materials that are in the public domain because of failure to file renewals or meet some other formality. The latter being less than 75 years old can result in underlying rights, musical rights in the film, screenplays and the like, remaining under copyright protection and, therefore, archives or distributors could be held liable for distribution of these motion pictures.
Finally, if you want to distribute materials for educational markets, you have to decide whether or not to limit the program to public domain materials. Such a program could begin with the creation of a self-sustaining system of some sort that will pay for itself, unless you are going to find more public funds, which in this day and age is not likely. Then, if not limited to public domain films, you will have to seek permission from the copyright owners from the outset, and probably limit the program in most cases to non-theatrical, non-feature films where the commercial markets are somewhat smaller. You still have to obtain the permission of the copyright owners, and, using that as a model, can later add to that system other more commercial films.
In sum, I think what has created the greatest fears in the copyright owners' minds is the discussion of an overly broad system of educational distribution. Educational uses can be read very broadly as can the nature and the types of films that you are talking about that may be considered public domain--where a less than 75-year-old film may be public domain, but certainly the underlying materials are not. So you probably have to limit any program for distribution to material that is older than 75 years.
MR. TABB: John?
MR. BELTON: I have a question about this because it concerns me greatly, and maybe Eric can also answer part of this question which regards the parameters of fair use for educational purposes, face-to-face fair use.
If I walk into any video store today and rent a videotape and take it to a classroom and show this videotape on a screen for my students in an educational setting, I understand that I am operating within the parameters of "fair use". The studios within the past 15 years have moved through different models of leasing to selling materials. It seems to me that we are in a market now in which one would want to redefine fair use in a classroom setting, if there is a fair use applicable for using videotapes but not for using a motion picture film.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Fair use questions are always difficult because they are determined on a case-by-case basis. It is an equitable doctrine of law in which courts look on a case-by-case basis at four key factors. One key factor is the purpose and character of the use, and certainly in the legislation it talks about educational uses. But often the most important factor as described in the Supreme Court decision in the Betamax case, is the impact on the potential marketplace. A classroom use is a part of a commercial educational market and there are other educational commercial markets. For example, a motion picture use in a classroom scheme can involve the taking of stills and frame enlargements. If the number of the frame enlargements is excessive or the purpose of taking the frame enlargements is to reproduce them into a book which is eventually sold, that is a commercial purpose. Yes, the book is primarily sold in educational markets but it still is an educational commercial market and conceivably a court would rule, depending on how many frame enlargements were taken, that is not fair use. And that is the problem for copyright owners.
I think what needs to be done may be more in the way of cooperative ventures, instead of legal ones done with the permission of the major copyright owners, and in cooperative agreement with educational users, so that there is a certain amount of certainty which fair use cannot provide since it is determined on a case-by-case basis. There are models for cooperative agreements for educational uses in the copyright law. For instance, the use and reproduction of educational classroom materials of literary works is outlined in the House and Senate reports of the 1976 Copyright Act.
MR. BELTON: Thank you.
MR. TABB: Milt, did you have a question?
MR. SHEFTER: Yes. Thank you. This is addressed to the whole panel. I think we are on the edge of a couple of key issues here and I would be interested in your response to it.
If we follow on the Gomery Tax as we are now affectionately calling it here--and in the present climate your name attached to that temporary tax will probably last longer than being on an edifice in this nation's capital--if we follow through on that tax, you have suggested the distribution medium might be the Department of Education. But in coming to the problem of prioritization as to where this money goes, now we have heard from Mr. Gunning here that in his discussions with Cineplex Odeon, an exhibitor, that they closed the theater and reopened it to carry more commercial fare to make more money, defined that that is what the public wants. That is an issue I think we have to address in the prioritization and I would like to hear your comments on that.
Secondly, in terms of access, I think that most of the private copyright ownership material that has been "donated" to various public institutions has been made available for scholarly or educational purposes but prohibited from commercial exploitation. Since you have all asked for more access under this plan, I would like to know your comments on that as well.
MR. KOLKER: Well, I think it is self-defining. There are publics. I mean, there is the public that the Cineplex Odeon is interested in and there is a more carefully defined public who may very well want after school to go and see the latest popular film, who also wants or needs to be educated to want to understand what is actually going on when they are going to see the latest popular film. And since that is a more defined market, that indeed could be another wedge to separate these complicated copyrights.
MR. SHEFTER: Not to interrupt you but the tax that is being proposed here is going to be paid for by the public.
MR. KOLKER: Right.
MR. SHEFTER: Everybody that uses everything will pay for this.
MR. KOLKER: Well, the public pays already taxes for education that all who pay do not partake in. So that it seems to me would not be--
MR. GOMERY: I, just as a case example, have no children and pay thousands of dollars to the county of Montgomery in Maryland for education. Some could argue I am being ripped off. I argue that the education of people in Montgomery County, as it is organized, is a very important task and I, like every other citizen in the country, I am willing to participate. It is now in terms of a property tax, which has some plusses and minuses, but, as a property owner, I participate and I think that is important.
I agree with Secretary Reich. The education and training of our labor force and our citizens to me is about as paramount a task as we have as a country and I think we should not shirk it or neglect it. And I agree with you. Prioritization would be a difficult problem. But prioritization, in my mind, is not a problem until you have resources to prioritize. And, at the moment, we have no resources to prioritize. And so what I am trying to do, I thank the person who suggested I have a positive spin. I do have a positive spin because I think that this [is] important and we ought to have resources allocated to it.
In terms of health care, in terms of defense, in terms of other issues of the country, this is trivial. This is rounding error in the health care world. We might be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in our world, but health care is billions and billions and billions of dollars, and, needless to say, the prioritization of that is as equally a difficult task. I do not think it is simple but I think we ought to get on with it.
MR. TABB: We have time for just one last question.
MR. FRANCIS: It is really not so much a question but a clarification. I just want to find out what materials you and your colleagues ideally want. Is it 16mm film and video or videodisc? Perhaps you screen it once and you use the other format for notes? It is important for the record we are absolutely clear what material you think you all need in the classroom.
MR. GUNNING: Well, I do not know that we would have immediate agreement on this. What I would emphasize is I think right now we are in a very particular situation where there are a variety of technologies and that what we have to realize is that they all do different things.
To some extent, we tend to look at them only as having different price tags and therefore the cheapest is the best. Certainly one of the things that technologies do is cut costs. But I would say that in fact I think it is very important that we think about the different possibilities of these different technologies and not absolutely stack one over the other. I mean, I think that the technologies of video and videodisc, laserdisc are extremely important. I also, as an archive rat, have an extreme importance on the use of 35mm for research and 16mm for exhibiting to classrooms. But I think all of them have roles and I think they are all different. I do not think they replace each other necessarily.
MR. GOMERY: I agree with Tom but let me be a little more specific. I think there are two functions.
Function one--and I think one of the world's leading experts is sitting on your panel, you might ask him at lunch time, Belton's wonderful new book on widescreen cinema--is to see the film and/or television program in its original form as it was presented. And I think that I am not going to rehearse the pan/scan, colorization, etc. issues because you all know them as well as I do.
But it is difficult now to show original widescreen color films to our students. They are not reproduced in books. Quite often in terms of frame enlargements, they are not often seen. I think it is--just like a literary work, just like the complete version of Shakespeare or a complete version of War and Peace--I think it is part of the educational responsibility to expose people during their university training to the complete work, not some abridged or partly affordable work.
I think that the other technologies of videotape and increasingly laserdisc, because again of their affordability, can be used in subsequent screenings. Although, of course, if you are going to write a paper trying to argue the complexity of wide screen imagery in Douglas Sirk or Orson Welles or whomever, it is going to be pretty difficult unless you have access to original material over and over and over again so you can make that kind of an argument and analysis.
MR. TABB: Okay. I think I need to bring this part of the program to a close. As the comments of the last 30 minutes indicate, the Librarian asked a very important, difficult question. I think it would be especially useful to the board for you and others who may be listening in the audience to go away and think about this and submit written comments for the record on this particular issue.
We are going to have a ten-minute recess now. We will start again exactly at 11:20 with Brian O'Doherty.
[A brief recess was taken.]
MR. TABB: We are ready to begin the second part of this morning's hearing. If I could call Dr. O'Doherty to the table, please?
Ladies and gentlemen, please. Thank you very much. We will get started again.
It is our pleasure to welcome Brian O'Doherty of the National Endowment for the Arts. Brian? Statement of Brian O'Doherty, Director, Media Arts, National Endowment for the Arts
MR. O'DOHERTY: Thank you for the opportunity to speak here. I feel like a member of the associated union of boilermakers amid all these experts. But I do have things to say and I will say them.
I was present at the first historic meeting of the Center for Film Television Preservation in Los Angeles. That was the first time that studio heads and the heads of nonprofit archives got together and sat at the same table. The cochairmen of the new center were Fay Kanin, who is with us, and Elton Rule. And Elton Rule looked at the studio people and he said, "I do not know how much you are interested in film preservation; I think the only form of preservation you know about is self-preservation."
That was in 1985. We have come a long way. I will try to avoid telling you what everybody in this room already knows, but let us recite our gains for a moment.
The formation of the National Center at the American Film Institute was due to the vision of the former chairman of the Arts Council, Frank Hodsoll, whose passion for the media arts graced his tenure and, of course, increased the media arts program's budget. The founding of the Center was as important for the interest it generated as for the achievements it has so vigorously pursued.
Studio involvement was once sporadic but through conversion programs that liaison is now ongoing.
The AFI catalog received a profound impetus from the founding of the Center. The Humanities Endowment, our sister agency, invested generously. The Center is now pregnant with the thirties volume, which it will shortly bring forth. The end of that stupendous project is in sight.
The template of a national database is in place. We have not heard much about it today.
A stirring short film on preservation made a too-brief appearance in 1983 before going into the limbo of rights negotiations.
American Movie Classics has put its strong shoulder to the preservation wheel.
The coloring crisis to which we all probably overreacted has come and gone.
And this Library undertook the responsibility of naming year-by-year an acceptable cannon of American films, a responsibility that the Endowment properly declined. We are very glad to see that task undertaken here.
A field once industriously submerged in the twilight of isolated repairs has emerged into unaccustomed sunlight. A great consciousness raising has taken place even as the fiscal landscape has become more parched and inhospitable. And that, as we know from today, is not conducive to salubrious meditations.
I am going to talk about a missing factor here: the public. I am always amazed at the depth of the public's good will towards preservation. Nothing demonstrates the hold that film has on the public imagination than this amiable reservoir.
I mention the public because the public has invested heavily in film preservation. Some 10 million in tax dollars has gone to nitrate preservation from the Endowment over the past 20 years--the longest and most sustained investment outside that of this library.
What has the public got in return? And what questions should be asked of the preservation field in its name?
I do believe that the preservation field will eventually, of necessity, have to draw on public support in the near future not just through tax dollars but directly.
In approaching that public, should not the case be made in a way that anyone can understand it?
The way the field represents itself, if I may say so, needs renovation. Take nitrate preservation and its familiar slogans. The vision of a continent of memory sinking from sight is a powerful rhetorical trope. But as one who has supervised the expenditure of millions of these dollars, why are the estimates of what remains to be done so, shall we say, imperfect? Will the public continue to bless our generalities so kindly?
Take another one. Half the films made before 1951 are gone. But most of the art produced in any era is, as we know, no loss. We hear of priority lists and heroic searches. I think it behooves the field to educate the public beyond the habitual mantras--which, unfortunately, I frequently find myself repeating.
And by what standards are films identified for preservation? For an arts agency, there is one standard, artistic excellence. On that basis, should I question the artistic value of much that has been preserved in the Endowment's name, how ever virtuous its social, political and anthropological relevance?
Pressing the standards issue, in my experience, makes everyone nervous. Surely it is better to be wrong for clear and defined reasons than to make judgments by undeclared, undetermined or blurred standards. Every age is blind to one's segment in its arc and vision. We are very insightful as to degrees of that arc in past times. But open standards beget open discussion, and discussion deepens our insight. Often this is mislaid in technical discussions, invaluable though these are.
The very nature of preservation involves risk-taking, and it also involves the athletic act of flinging oneself 30 or 40 years forward to gain a retrospect on the present. It is a risky business, and true conservation never assumed a conservative failure of nerve.
The value of the database now in formation at the National Center is indisputable. It is a powerful tool that can eliminate duplication, make information flow smoothly, assist research, facilitate curators and exhibitors, aid in education, feed an innervating stream into preservation's day-to-day business. The monies required to carry the database through are of an order beyond the Arts Endowment's capacity. A public case has to be made, should it not, for the database--one of the most daring of all preservation initiatives. But there seems to be a centripetal dynamic in preservation, little escapes its imploding fields of gravity. I have seen no convincing rationale for this database from the galaxy of scholars and experts involved that the public could understand. We need one.
Who profits from preservation? Studios locating lost originals legally or illegally held? Specialized exhibitors? Home videos of tasty morsels? The usual ranks of admirable scholars? Well, where is the public?
Let us follow the preservation cycle for a moment. A lost silent film--say the 1917 Cleopatra with Theda Bara--is sought. It is found in a remote archive in New Zealand. It is returned, restored, transferred to acetate. It is catalogued, databased, written about. Surprisingly, the acetate is stricken with vinegar syndrome. It is treated, retransferred, remastered. What happens to it then?
It is preserved as if in aspic. For whom? That is the question that strikes terror into the heart of conservative preservationists, and it is a question that must be answered. I have heard it asked several times today.
For no matter how bright the radiant screen of their memory, the public will not long support preservation without seeing its results. The archives' costive habit does not invite a rush of educated patrons and donors.
It is now 13 years since that extraordinary night at the Telluride film festival when Abel Gance, age 91, holding the telephone to his ear in Paris, heard the applause of the crowd as his 1927 Napoleon fibrillated on a screen 5000 miles away. If the heritage is as rich as we are told, should there not be more Napoleon's? We have Lawrence of Arabia and Lost Horizon and Intolerance and, alas, Spartacus. And, of course, we are all a little weary of seeing Becky Sharp with her maquillage restored. Great exhibitions such as Before Hollywood and The Dawn of Sound illustrate dark vistas but where is the annual national exhibition of treasures from the archives that the public could see, that could produce revenue, that could educate? We have the Pordenone Festival and, of course, it is not here.
Every great museum trawls through its basements from time to time to see what a change of taste has rotated into the light of attention. I am aware of what Eastman House does with silent film and live musical accompaniment. But the lack of a sophisticated exhibition habit in our great national museum of many archives is, I choose my word carefully, a disaster.
But I suppose I have been talking about Hamlet without the prince. I have not said a word about video and I do not know--is that allowable today? Are we worrying about video or only film?
MR. TABB: Only film today.
MR. O'DOHERTY: The more I know of archivists-- [Laughter.]
MR. TABB: Only one page? [Laughter.] And you are almost out of time.
MR. O'DOHERTY: --and their patient relentless passion, the more I respect what they do, often in lonely monkish cells. There is no more stirring sight than to see a field of experts aggressively occupy the present to retrieve the past for the future, thereby giving us a sense of continuity and tradition that the world, in its indifference, continually fractures.
Do I believe the reborn preservation field has become full of competing interests, jealousies, protection of revenue sources, unnecessary conflicts interrupted by inspirations and sporadic good will? I would hate to think that. At no time since preservation began has cooperation been more imperative.
The field reacted generously to the formation of the National Center. It had lots of questions, as it should. The Center began to form a national plan, and one is needed. If out of Congress' charge to this Library, the field can agree on its priorities in a way that does not forget the public which foots most of the bills, we will have cause for joy and a charter by which we can all get on with our work.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Brian. Questions?
MR. CHASMAN: I think we are all stunned by your eloquence.
MR. TABB: Milt?
MR. SHEFTER: I enjoyed the eloquence.
MR. O'DOHERTY: However-- [Laughter.]
MR. SHEFTER: I understood enough to ask you this question. We heard from the panel before you that before you have access, which I think was one of your main points, that you have to have restoration. If my math is anywhere near correct the funds that you have allocated over the last decade, etc., probably amount to a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, which maybe protected a couple hundred thousand feet of nitrate or allowed these archives to convert it for access.
Now, we are told, and you can tell us whether this is a mantra, that there is 150 million to 200 million feet of nitrate that should be preserved. We are told this by public archives. You have a drop in the bucket in your budget and yet you say that your standard is artistic excellence. How can you prioritize with that little money available?
MR. O'DOHERTY: Prioritize the artistic excellence issue?
MR. SHEFTER: Yes.
MR. O'DOHERTY: When the Endowment gives out its money, artistic excellence is intrinsic to its legislative empowerment and charge. It is given through a nitrate program administered jointly by the American Film Institute and the National Endowment.
Out of that, the major archives, Eastman House, UCLA and the Museum of Modern Art, get about $100,000 a year. And the list of what comes back to me is one that I am asking questions about, which I should not ask in public. Before I make any such comment, I should ask the archives in particular about it. But I think that is coming. As money is going down, we will have to get together, and say what are the priorities for preservation.
Every archive has its own priority list. I am immensely impressed by the passion and capacity of these archives to carry through, as I look in my ignorance over these lists, what seems to me important work. I am asking the question. I am not making an accusation.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: Brian, does the Endowment--and I should know this and do not -- does it have any parameters when it gives the money? Does it have any stipulations that go with it or is it left to the judgment of the receiving parties?
MR. O'DOHERTY: We feel, since we are not experts, that we can trust completely in the expertise of the archives, which is formidable, to carry through the aim of this money in the spirit which it is given. We are a National Endowment for the Arts, so there are many other areas to which our preservation monies do not go. Anthropological material, etc., some news material; there is a variety of things. But my point is that funds are going down, and our preservation money will be going down this year for nitrate preservation. As Dr. Johnson said, the thought of hanging wonderfully concentrates the mind. So we are all under threat of hanging here. We are all suffering diminishing budgets while the field is exploding and while interest in the field is expanding. I think this is a general situation in many fields in the nineties.
What are we going to do about it? We have heard revenue issues here which are immensely important. How to put these revenue issues together in a way that is convincing is a top priority, I do feel.
My point is the public does not know enough about preservation. You have this reservoir of good will. My point in my paper was how do you formulate to the public the issues and stir their interest in a very positive way? Because it can be easily dissipated by appeals that have no results. By appeals that have no results in terms of exhibition.
I have a question that I would ask about preservation in general. We have preserved so much material through the good offices of the archives, and I do not see except occasionally here in your little theater what has come out of this. What has resulted from this?
We did give a grant to the Center to do an hour television program on collecting vivid material from the archives, so the public could see what has been preserved. Robert Wise is the executive producer of this. It is in process, money is being raised for it.
But among all the various stops and stations on the arc of preservation, from the search to the exhibition, there seems to me to be so many stations where things get delayed. And it is not just money.
MR. TABB: One last question. John?
MR. BELTON: Perhaps we all constitute just kind of an amalgamation of special interest groups, educators, archivists, studios; we all want different things to happen. And you have worked with one structure for funding, public institutions, for preservation. I do not know what constituencies are included within your governance board, but I guess the question I would have is: If you were to satisfy the public, how would you represent the public in the decisionmaking policies? Would that involve a different kind of structure than you are presently using for financing film preservation?
MR. O'DOHERTY: Well, I have just mentioned one about educating the public and that is a television program, an hour program, which takes some of the great preserved material and puts it on the air.
MR. BELTON: Who represents the public? What voice would you listen to to represent the public?
MR. O'DOHERTY: In the panels that make these decisions, there is the preservation community, the academic community, sometimes the studio community. The public is represented in every panel at the agency by a lay person, a member of the public, who is supposed to speak, and often does, about the needs of the public and as a corrective to the discourses that sometimes get under way.
And I think that question of who is served is becoming increasingly important for our agency. I do not see, unless there is a sudden flush of affection from Congress, multiplying our revenues in the near future. I think we are all facing this.
So my word here is, if I may say so with all respect: Serve the public or die. And how to serve the public is something that the preservation community itself has to stand up and do. It is against many of the instincts of the preservation community, but the alternatives are dismal. Would you agree with that?
MR. BELTON: Yes. My problem has always been finding the public. Specifically, is the public the academic community? No. The press? No.
MR. O'DOHERTY: The public is in the movie theater. Millions of them. The public is watching television. Millions of them. Do we see anything there that tells us about preservation? Do we see anything even in public television that tells us about this matter?
The public is there. The newspapers are there. Articles are there to be written. What does everybody do when they are in trouble? What does every special interest do at the present time when they are running into financial trouble? They hire a public relations firm.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: What you seem to be saying is that preservation needs public relations, some sort of campaign. Is that what I am hearing from you?
MR. O'DOHERTY: My DNA snaps a little when I hear "public relations" in words but, by any name, public education well done is a prime necessity.
MR. TABB: David?
MR. FRANCIS: Well, we can show films in our theater, in the Pickford Theater, without too many difficulties because we do not make a charge. If we go beyond that, we have to have the cooperation of the copyright owner. I believe that the AMC initiative, which we will hear about later, is a very important one, because there we have an organization which is prepared to pay the necessary rights to screen this material. So they are enabling us to get this material out to the public--and they have an audience of 45 million.
This is the sort of initiative that will get preservation out to the public in the way you are suggesting. I applaud that initiative and I applaud any similar initiatives.
MR. CHASMAN: On the question of copyright holders: Studios, which are the major copyright holders, make formal protestations of their awareness of their responsibility for the cultural heritage and the rest of that. They either imply, or at least they allow us to infer, that they would be motivated to put a lot more money into the preservation of their older films if their copyright term could be extended. Would you be in favor of such a move?
MR. O'DOHERTY: I think that the obvious answer from somebody who is somewhat ignorant is yes. But I think that would have to come from people with more expertise than I have. If you were saying that the extension of the copyright with more lax distribution--is that what you are saying?
MR. CHASMAN: My question is: How generous would be the distribution deal?
MR. O'DOHERTY: In principle, yes.
DR. BILLINGTON: Let me say a word here because this board does directly represent the public; it was created by the Congress. Its commission comes from the Congress. The institution I represent is wholly a servant of the public. Since the Library has done considerably more than half the film preservation that has actually been done, I can say that that has been done by the public. The public has a great reason to take pride in film preservation. The American people have devoted more than any other nation in the world to this, largely through the Library of Congress, but also to some extent through NEA and other instrumentalities.
It is, however, material to look at issues of ownership, because the public work on preservation has added value to works that remain essentially in private hands, private hands which have not been extended with very much money in them to the public to take a fair share of this responsibility, especially in the past.
This is a very, very serious problem. The public is not aware of much of this, but at every stage in the process of getting this to people's attention, there are stonewalls from various sources. We have people who own copyrights who do not want even a single viewing by a scholar in a lonely booth. There is, moreover, no clear acknowledgment of responsibility and very little concrete help from the owners, so in general the taxpayer is doing this at the moment and the industry is not. I do not like to put it quite so bluntly, but I serve no interest except that of the Library of Congress, which is a kind of a cover name for the collective memory of the creative activity of the United States. And I find it very difficult to understand how we will be able to get higher visibility before the public for a national plan, unless those who have benefitted commercially from this public preservation are more forthcoming. I do not purport to understand it, but when I talk to individuals as I have started doing, there is a set of euphemisms and even institutional activities that seem to disguise rather than focus this fundamental, simple fact: Preservation is being rather well supported by the taxpayer and by virtually nobody else. And as someone who has to argue a taxpayers' budget under increasingly difficult circumstances, and as one who is passionately, not merely occupationally but passionately, committed to the preservation of this particular heritage, I find this situation hard to justify. I have used film as a teacher myself; I know how important it can be. But I find that every time we try to get further services of any kind out for the public, we are combatted by the active opposition of special interest groups that are not doing these services, but somehow for some reason do not want to support, or want to actively oppose, the public's doing it.
I have given most of my life to public service and I can speak as somebody who really represents the public in this area pretty faithfully and pretty centrally, and I can tell you that I see great difficulty in arguing seriously that the public should continue to bear a burden for something which I passionately believe in if the lesser publics, the private groups, do not really seriously and massively step forward in this process. I do not know if we even have any representatives of those people in the room now.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: This morning we did.
DR. BILLINGTON: We did briefly. We no longer have the first echelon, nor do we have the second echelon.
Are they serious about their own heritage or not? Or do they just want to throw receptions and parties, talking about it but not doing anything about it, while the people who are doing something about it are being kept alive by the public. I think the public is interested in this, but the public may not be able to sustain the preservation work. And certainly the public has not been able to distribute and show the products of this preservation work as yet, because we would encounter difficulties at every stage from those other special interest publics, which for very misguided, shortsighted reasons tend to oppose or block or make impossible difficulties.
MR. O'DOHERTY: We also have run into this on occasion when we wanted to get out from the archives and from the past Leonard Bernstein's concerts for young people and put them on the air again. This was something that Frank Hodsoll, former chairman, at one point was very keen on. And the rights problems were formidable. We spent money on those rights problems. We supported a lot of lawyers and the kinescopes were not forthcoming. They will be in another context, I believe, in the near future. But I would submit with all respect that one of the tasks that has to be formulated is various action committees or task forces.
For instance, in the legal area, there are high-priced lawyers who devote time to public service, and this is a major public service: the negotiation between these parties, the nonprofit world, the world that represents our memory, and the world of commerce, where the orientation and mind set is vastly different. But at least they sit down and talk in the Middle East peace talks. I presume that if a task force suitably instructed by lawyers will negotiate and deal with the lawyers from the studios, at least something is going. There is no ongoing connection dealing with these matters. Nor is there in a variety of other areas.
Where is the task force for color fading and color preservation? Where is the task force for what I heard today from Professor Kolker, for minorities, for avant-garde film, for film by people of color who are not widely represented either at the table there or in this audience? Where are the--
DR. BILLINGTON: They are well represented on the selections for the National Film Registry, I might add.
MR. O'DOHERTY: Well, I take your point, sir. But I think that if one can have some very industrious task forces come out of this that will not disappear, as is not unusual after such great public expressions of concern, that will go through the hard times of working out solutions, then I think we can have something to be proud of out of this.
Again, I am not sure how possible that is, given the field and its strange ability and inability to work together towards common goals, while it is united in its many voices about what is needed.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much, Brian. In the interest of time, I am going to invite the next two panels to come to the table at the same time, both those representing film distribution as well as Mr. Harris, the restoration specialist. If you would come up, please?
I hope you will help us by keeping your prepared statements as short as possible. Who will be speaking for CINE? Mr. Rettig, will you be speaking?
MR. RETTIG: Yes, I will.
MR. TABB: Okay. Thank you. Statement of Alan Rettig, First Vice President, Council on International Nontheatrical Events (CINE), accompanied by John Mendenhall,Vice President, CINE
MR. RETTIG: Thank you very much. I will either keep it short or read fast, so one way or another we will get through it.
CINE, the Council on International Nontheatrical Events, is a nonprofit, volunteer organization established in 1957 to judge non-feature motion pictures made by American producers and to select the best for exhibition overseas. For three decades, our semiannual competitions have been open to producers of a wide range of documentary, information, instructional and short entertainment films and, more recently, if I may say the word, videos. Our Golden Eagle award has long been recognized throughout the film industry as a mark of achievement in non-feature film production.
Since 1963, a total of 68 Golden Eagle winners have been nominated for Academy Awards, 21 have received Oscars and, in 1984, the Academy recognized the CINE Golden Eagle as fulfilling its prerequisites for nomination of a film for an Oscar in several categories.
The CINE competitions have drawn increasing numbers of entrants. More than 600 films have been entered in the spring 1993 competition just this spring, and that is a 25% increase over entries in the same period last year. On this basis, we believe that the total entries for this year will well exceed 1200 titles.
Categories represented in these competitions include large general areas such as short and feature documentaries, films for business and industry, films for children and films for small specialized areas such as medicine, economic development and oceanography.
The competitions are open to amateur as well as professional productions and all entries are judged by multi-stage juries of film and media specialists throughout the United States.
CINE's original mission, to introduce the film treatment of American life and thought to overseas audiences, has remained a priority. The organization routinely recommends entry of Golden Eagle winners in more than 100 general and specialized film festivals throughout the world and each year scores of awards from these festivals are presented by foreign diplomats to U.S. producers at our annual awards ceremonies here in Washington.
In presenting testimony before this committee, CINE's purpose is to urge the Library of Congress to include documentary and other short films in its preservation efforts.
It is a generally accepted view among film scholars that documentary motion pictures and newsreels constitute a major cultural legacy. Such films are records of actuality and, as the late John Grierson observed, it is the documentary which both "entertains and instructs."
Documentaries and related non-feature films examine and reveal the social and cultural fabric of our society in its remarkable complexity. Unfortunately, many of them are likely to be lost and, of course, have been lost already to future scholars, and will continue to do so if no sustained effort is ongoing to preserve them.
Such films as Mr. Wiseman's records of American institutions, Barbara Kopple's detailed videos of labor and social problems, Ken Burns' masterful revelation of the Civil War are examples of documentary films familiar to all of us. Numerous other documentaries are currently discounted, for the most part, because the form is so familiar to us through major delivery on television. Before the documentary film was a staple of our daily information diet, memorable examples were part of the entertainment package delivered in the movies. After World War II, non-feature films flourished as information presentations in public meetings, as classroom aids in the teaching of history, science, social science and even behavior society theoretically deemed appropriate.
Since the 1970s, technological development has made video the predominant medium for film delivery but whatever the format for presentation, documentaries continue to inform us and to help form our opinions. As William Bluhm wrote 25 years ago, "A part of a documentary's purpose is always social--somehow to let us discern more clearly, with greater compassion and vision, the issues we must resolve."
The relation of the documentary and other non-feature films to entertainment films, "the movies," has always been close. Consider the documentary films of Frank Capra, whose Why We Fight series was used so extensively for both information and inspiration in World War II. Many other names from Hollywood have also made their marks in documentary, often beginning their careers producing non-feature films.
Before World War II, Ernest Schoedsack was a cameraman for Mack Sennett. Much later, he went on to do King Kong and other adventure features. But in between, he made documentaries for the organization I work for in the daytime, that is the American Red Cross, both during and after the war.
Today, it is no particular challenge to find prints of Keystone Cops comedies or King Kong but except for one reel at the Eastman House you will not find Schoedsack's Red Cross war documentaries anywhere. That is because when they were discovered in the attic in the 1950s the D.C. fire marshall ordered them removed. Shortly after in a courtyard between the Red Cross buildings about 15 blocks from here, they were summarily burned.
Despite its close relationship to entertainment, the documentary film is a category of distinct and independent value to American film culture. Between 1963 and 1993, CINE estimates that more than 22,000 documentaries and related nonfeature films have been entered in its semiannual competitions and these may well represent of course no more than a fraction of the total amount of non-feature output, good and bad, of the U.S. film industry during that time.
The danger of losing this part of our film heritage is great. Many of our colleagues report on their quests for prints of significant documentary films, tracking them from producer to sponsor to university archivists, through the U.S. and sometimes across the border into Canada, a vain pursuit that often leads to the sad conclusion that much excellent film material will be lost if we do not make a dedicated effort to preserve it.
Federally produced documentaries are already preserved in the NARA program but no such resource archive has been established for independently produced documentaries. Nor is data about these productions readily available to organizations or scholars. The American Film Institute catalog in development now, for example, lists entertainment features only.
CINE recommends that the Library of Congress give serious consideration to the following:
1. Including independently produced documentaries and related non-feature films in its preservation efforts;
2. Extending the definition of motion picture to include documentaryvideo productions of the highest quality; and
3. Establishing, or perpetuating certainly, a database to describe and givethe location of existing prints and negatives of documentary films.
In the spirit of not just helping to define the problem but also to be part of the solution, CINE offers its extensive files to the Library of Congress or any other interested agency as a foundation for a database and we will gladly cooperate toward the establishment of any system for identifying, locating and preserving documentary films.
The CINE records may have some unique characteristics that will prove valuable to the work at hand. First, the films appearing in the CINE yearbooks have been done with quality and selected to go on to international festivals. As such, the lists are blessedly not comprehensive and may prove more manageable to uncover some of the more worthy examples of the form. And very importantly, the CINE listings also include distributors' and producers' names and addresses, not necessarily the last known, however, but they may be at least a first step on a trail to finding materials.
In the words of Richard Dyer McCann, "Film's contributions to social stability and orderly change have come most often from the documentary, with its steady informational base and its appeal to reason." CINE urges that those contributions be recognized and preserved.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Mr. Sherman? Statement of Samuel Sherman, President and CEO, Independent-International Pictures Corporation
MR. SHERMAN: My name is Samuel Sherman. I am here representing the smaller independent producers and distributors of feature films. We are the true orphans of this industry. I was also a board member of IFIDA, which was the independent version of the MPAA and cofounded the Code and Ratings Administration.
I have been in the motion picture industry since 1956 and I am the president and CEO of Independent-International Pictures Corporation, a feature film producer and distribution company which I founded in 1968.
We have made over 40 theatrical features in Hollywood, the East Coast and abroad. Lon Chaney, Jr. and J. Carrol Naish made their last features for us, while James Spader and Estelle Getty made their first features for us. We do everything the big companies do but on a small scale. In short, we are a major studio in a tea cup.
We have also absorbed libraries and companies going back to the silent era including Imperial Pictures, Majestic Pictures, Tower Productions, Teledynamics Corp., Screen Guild Productions, Supreme Pictures and Thor Films, incorporating the libraries of two important major Italian companies, Minerva and Excelsa.
My study of motion pictures educated me in the techniques and creative value of film. My work with industry veterans completed that education. My experience with independent producers and distributors has given me the firm feeling that little known is that part of the industry, the independent part of theatrical feature producers and distributors.
I am a preservationist and I have given a written statement but I will recap and expand it here.
I am an archivist and I spend my own and my company's monies to restore nitrate films nobody else has preserved, and I feel the following issues have importance for this hearing.
First of all, many film laboratories and storage facilities are currently going out of business with the result being destroyed and lost films. The prominent labs now gone include Movielab (East and West) which had absorbed Path_, Color Service others, Capital, Triangle, TVC, MGM-Metrocolor and Precision. At Movielab, 60,000 cans of customers' negatives were destroyed by Movielab, without advice to the films' owners, and many others lost or misplaced. I found my own company's films there and repatriated more negatives to their owners than any other firm or individual.
Secondly, I feel that all films have sociological and other intrinsic values. This is especially true in the case of feature films which mirror the age they are made in. If feasible, they should all be saved. Eventually, technology may make this possible with high quality compression that can cost effectively store all film. Archives should seek to preserve films preserved nowhere else and not duplicate other's efforts.
Recognizing the excellent work that has been done by the Library of Congress amongst the other archives, I still feel that archives like the Library of Congress, funded with public monies, should make all archived and/or preserved films accessible for the public easily to see. Government agencies should not become unwillingly free storage facilities and tax shelters for big companies who have the funding to preserve their own films, and public archives should not duplicate the preservation the studios are already doing themselves.
The public's right to see films already preserved or archived is clear. Otherwise, for whom are we preserving these films? When do they get to see them? And how can they get access to them?
My feeling is the copyright laws need revision with expanding the fair use provisions even though my company is the owner of many copyrighted films and I recognize the need to retain distribution rights. But I also recognize the public's interest in seeing these films as their admission fees paid for the production of these films and for most of the Hollywood studio output. And, in the case of the Hollywood studios, many of the executives who make these far-reaching decisions regarding access are only in their jobs between 18 months and 5 years. They are not even stockholders in their companies. I am speaking as the CEO, a stockholder of my company, the owner of nitrate films, the owner of safety films, the producer of two films at the present time, and yet I am willing to make my films available to the public on more of a fair use basis than any major studio will do.
The major studios in many cases hold onto films that they are not even screening; you cannot even see these things on American Movie Classics. They have films nobody is interested in seeing. If it were not for the Library of Congress and the Museum of Modern Art and the private archives like UCLA, the culture of a great part of this country would not be seen by anyone. The excellent job of the Museum of Modern Art's series on early sound was really a wonderful venture between all the parties concerned.
Now another section here, abandoned orphan films. Many of these exist in active laboratories and storage facilities who do not know what to do with them. They face destruction because of a lack of storage space. Bekins Storage in Los Angeles is a gold mine of such orphan films and related materials with no active owners in sight. A major effort should be made to acquire and preserve these orphan materials.
Now, orphan materials come about as an outgrowth of the nature of our industry. Our industry is a very funny industry. It is somewhat like Chinese medicine in which in the body we have the Yin and the Yang, the two forces that have to balance. Well, we have three forces to balance. We have to balance the creative end, the technical end and the business end. And you will see the great films of Capra, John Ford, they somehow balance them all. They are successful, they are technically very well done but yet they are artistically well done.
Now, the problem we have with small companies, in many cases, they do not understand the balance of all these efforts. And many of them, being small commercial companies, refuse to reinvest in their negatives because they cannot see what is in it for them. Well, I reinvest in my negatives because it does not matter what is in it for me. If I have seen something I have discovered in a library that I have acquired that I think the world should see that has some value, I will spend the money on it. I will take a portion of my revenues and put it into that restoration. In the case of one film, there is a very interesting film called The Sin of Nora Moran made by Majestic Pictures, which I own the library of, and The Sin of Nora Moran is perhaps the best independently made small feature of the 1930s. I hope at some point you will all get a chance to see this film because the Library of Congress has a very bad splicy print. I have the original camera negative and somebody else has some additional material in California. We are privately going to restore that film and make it available. And I just want to point out the film star is a lady who is very ill right now by the name of Zita Johann, who was an important light of early Broadway. And she brought a man whom she married into the business, taught him the business and that man became known as John Houseman. So her roots run deep. The first commercial big part that Clark Gable had was with Zita Johann. So I should also point out the poster alone for this movie two months ago in a New York auction sold for $18,000, and yet it is not going to require my putting up $18,000 to restore this nitrate film. But I hope when it is done we will have the opportunity to screen it in good condition and have people see why we think it is so good and why several film scholars of great importance share that feeling I have.
Now, I am going into something that has been talked about already but an industry-wide, possibly worldwide registry of film owners should be created with a link with archives in what exactly is owned by whom. And this is a very chaotic situation because in trying to find out who owns what, we can stabilize the problem of making films available because owners, especially independent owners like myself, I think we are a little less unreasonable than the studios in wanting films to be accessible. If anybody finds something I have and they want to see it, I make a great effort for them to see it even though I make nothing out of it because I do believe in film preservation and film study.
Now, the database that has been spoken about widely in this meeting regarding the holdings and what everybody has, we are creating our own and we would certainly make it available to anybody, whoever requests it. We are not secretly holding anything that we have any axe to grind about, but I feel it should be the same thing in the case of other companies.
Many of the major studios unknown to many people do hold materials they do not own. Somehow pictures they have never distributed have fallen into their hands. Somebody ships it out of a vault; it ends up at Paramount; it ends up at Fox. I mean, if it is not theirs, they should donate it to the Library of Congress, or at least in having the database available, we will know there is an extra reel nine on something that is valuable that is not easily found.
The issues addressed here I think should be organized into specific tasks and plans for both study and action by individual groups and then put on a timetable to get the projects underway. My own opinion is the next five years will see the permanent loss of thousands of motion pictures on a global scale unless an immediate plan is enacted to deal with these issues. I realize funding is the major problem, but, even before the issue of the funding, I think we must secure these films and store them somewhere before they are destroyed and then we can figure out how they are to be preserved.
MR. TABB: Mr. Sherman, I am going to have to ask you to stop now.
MR. SHERMAN: That is the end of it.
MR. TABB: Okay. Very good.
MR. SHERMAN: My cooperation is volunteered if you want it.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much. Mr. Harris? Statement of Robert Harris, restoration specialist
MR. HARRIS: I will try and get this through quickly also.
We have all heard many times that we have already lost some 50% of the films made before 1950, that our nitrate heritage is slowly turning to powder before our eyes while budgets and time are running out. This is all true. However, with little mention of our post-1950s film this perpetuates the myth that film preservation is dedicated to our remote past, something that belongs more in museums than on theater screens.
Further, it gives the impression that all of these nitrate films simply decomposed while attempts were being made to preserve them. This is untrue. Most of the early films did not survive because of wholesale junking by the studios. There was no thought of ever saving these films. They simply needed vault space and the materials were expensive to house. There also seems to be a feeling that we must save it all. Like art and the written word, there was as much junk film produced during the first half of the century as is being produced currently. I made one of those in 1987, a junk film, which we can add to the pile of junk. It simply is not all worth saving with today's limited funding.
If our greatest problem were nitrate, then my chosen work in the archival field would be incomparably simple. But it is not. In 1988, while completing work on David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, I was asked to look into Tom Jones, the 1963 Academy Award-winning Best Picture, newer than Lawrence by only one year. Try as I did searching vaults worldwide, the best I could come up with was a single dye-transfer Technicolor print with an Italian soundtrack. It was so worn that it could not be used for duplication.
I was told that the feeling when Tom Jones was in post-production was that it would not amount to anything. A judgment call. UA never made protection separations to back up the original negative. Today, a proper print of Tom Jones cannot be produced.
Although I do not necessarily have the answers to our preservation problems, I can at least raise or help reevaluate some of the questions.
Since the early fifties, we have been dealing with the Eastmancolor negative. There is nothing inherently wrong with this material except that it fades. We have lost the original negatives to almost every film of the fifties, and we are now going into the sixties; films of the seventies are now showing signs of fading.
Lawrence, a 1961-62 production photographed in Eastmancolor and processed by Technicolor London was fortunate. For some reason, the work done at that particular laboratory seems to survive years longer than film processed elsewhere, possibly the water from the Thames, I am not sure. Lawrence was still in good enough shape, although the negative was cracked and falling to pieces, that new color protection materials could be produced. We could not produce new black-and-white protection material, because the negatives would not run three times to produce separations.
The camera negative on Universal's 1960 Spartacus was totally faded, totally unusable. Nothing could be done to produce any printing material from that element. We worked from black-and-white separations and had to create the equipment to manufacture a 65mm preservation internegative on the film. We worked from the seps but those seps had been produced defectively. They had been vaulted 30 years before and never tested. I will not go into the problems that were encountered, but the lesson learned was simple and dramatic: black-and-white master separations, when produced, were routinely vaulted and forgotten, assuming they would yield beautiful results when needed. We now know that this simply is not accurate in all cases.
No one knows what materials can be produced from separation masters unless they have been printed, not selectively tested or reviewed on a Rank [film-to-tape transfer machine], but printed. This should be done before the negatives that they protect are no longer viable printing elements. If the protection is defective and the negatives have gone, nothing further can be done. Without doing so, we may have no protection for the last 40 years of color film history. Every film worth saving which has not been backed up should be looked into with immediacy.
The large format films, 70mm, Technirama, etc., are in the highest risk group. Since most 70mm prints were made directly from the camera negatives, many are extremely worn. Most large format masters are untested. They probably will not register very well and they generally are not backed up by large format color interpositives of any vintage no less recent.
My single hard and fast rule is do not rejuvenate original negatives; and this keeps happening continuously in laboratories around the world. Do not put chemicals on preservation materials. This will go against everything that you will hear if there are people coming here representing rejuvenation and scratch-removal vendors. They will tell you that the panacea for saving our film heritage is to coat it with chemicals.
There is a problem right now with the original camera negative of a very well-known 1968 film. Someone allowed the negative to be chemically treated and a lab wetgated the footage. That film is now a solid block. We are trying to ease it apart and remove the coating without the emulsion coming off.
Rejuvenation causes film to shrink, warp and shed its emulsion. Particles of dust and dirt are caught under the coatings and become a part of the picture never envisioned by the director of photography.
The overall quality of preservation work done by some vendors is a joke. What they produce is generally in the "good enough to get us paid" category. Once materials are delivered, they are generally accepted. Although much preservation material was produced before the advent of wetgate printing and therefore wear was more apparent, there were still materials produced after this process was available, which just was not done professionally.
If someone 15 or 20 years ago had made decent materials on pictures like Casablanca, they would look a lot better than they do today, and they would not have to be constantly redone. There are not adequate materials produced on hundreds of films; but there are materials. You can generalize that the more popular the film, the worse shape it is going to be in. Quality is a problem that has been with us for decades.
Nitrate is preserved once, then again and then possibly a third time, hopefully the right way. Original negatives are sometimes pulled to create non-preservation elements to be used for a video transfer. This places wear and fade on the negative without accomplishing anything.
One final point on this subject. Once materials are preserved properly, that does not then mean that the original nitrate should be junked. I have to assume that today's technology will be constantly supplanted in the future with new means of creating even higher quality preservation materials. You never want your finest surviving asset to be a dupe when you can have the luxury of going back to an original element.
If someone asked what I would do if I could selectively control all film preservation except that being done by the few studios and archives who are doing it correctly, my initial answer would be very simple: nothing. I would shut it down completely. Vendors should be checked for quality and accredited to do preservation work rather than just offering it on rate cards. Preservation work should not be synonymous with lab work. Simply producing a set of separation masters does not mean that a film is preserved. Producing a finegrain from a nitrate original does not mean that it is preserved. All these materials have to be produced correctly not just produced, shipped and billed.
There are too many situations in which the wrong material is produced from the wrong material. This does nothing more than spend preservation dollars for masturbatory or "voodoo" preservation. All this junk has to be stored, placed on databases and occasionally checked but it will always be junk. Years from now, someone will come along and wonder why it was produced but the good materials will already be gone. Once all these problems were solved, then I would start the wheels turning again.
Some people who work in preservation do not know what a preserved or restored film should look and sound like. This is exacerbated by the fact that few titles have an original print. Without a reference print, you have no idea what the intentions of the filmmakers were regarding color, density, contrast or even major points like "day for night" scenes. When a reference print is available, it may not be an approved print. It could well be left over from a reissue or have survived as a lab reject.
Work is accepted which should be rejected because some people are either too lazy or just not knowledgeable enough to know what to do. People with a background in business as well as film history, film elements and lab techniques should be running motion picture asset protection programs.
Studios and rental vaults are now placing inventory on computer. Sometimes, as in the case of Universal, people actually open cans, inspect and listen to material. However, all too often these inventories are simply perpetuated error. An element is incorrectly listed on a label, insecurely attached to a can, then transferred to a card, and then years later, from the card to computer by someone who cannot quite decipher the original handwriting. All of this with never a look back at the actual materials, especially if they are in another country or vaulted underground.
There have been too many occurrences in which I have called someone to see if they have protection on a long version or stereo tracks, only to be told that the film was monaural or that there was no long version. It is simply bad recordkeeping.
If we are going to really start taking all this seriously, now is probably a good time to begin. If we do not, here is what we can do. Make a list of films produced since 1953, then draw a line around 1965. That is the date before which it is safe to assume we will not be able to protect anything much longer unless it is already protected.
Take a look at the titles and then dismiss every great film that you would like to share with your children or grandchildren or possibly just see again. They are not going to be there when we want them. It is all as simple as that. Either we do something now and do it right or let's forget it all. It will soon be just so much junk.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Mr. Harris.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you.
MR. BELTON: Winston?
MR. TABB: John?
MR. BELTON: Yes. For Robert Harris. I have two questions to ask you. The first has to do with the technical standards for preservation and the last point you made. Do these standards exist? Does FIAF create them, or would you see that as a valuable contribution that could be made by a national film preservation study?
And the second question would be just how widespread is the problem with the separations? You have mentioned one or two instances of them never being checked. How extensive do you think from your own research it is?
MR. HARRIS: First, I think it would be great if the Library of Congress could get involved in setting up some sort of standards. Each laboratory really has their own standards. If you go to some of the finer laboratories on the West Coast, YCM or Film Technology, they have wonderful standards on reading their scales and black-and-white materials. They really know what they are doing. But it changes from lab to lab.
A lot of laboratories are just in it to make a quick buck and that is the problem. A lot of laboratories, now with this plethora of film preservation arriving, are saying, "well, let us say that we create preservation materials," and they have not the foggiest idea what they are doing.
I would hate to say that people should be licensed as a laboratory to do it but we are almost to that point because what they are doing is wasting money and that is all there is to it.
MR. BELTON: And the color?
MR. HARRIS: The color separations, it is extremely widespread. There are numbers of films for which there are no separations, many, many films. I think you will find most of those with probably United Artists, which is probably one of the worst "studios" as far as materials. Some of the studios are going back and attempting to create separations on their materials before they disappear. I know Universal is doing that. I know Paramount is looking into it. Columbia is looking into it. Warner Bros. I do not know if Fox is doing much of anything except working on Home Alone 3 possibly.
A lot of the time, when I go through inventories, I will find a 15-reel picture which means that you need 45 reels of separations and I will find 43 of them. You will be missing yellow from one reel, magenta from another reel, because materials were shipped over from one vault to another. You know, they say 45 cans but what you have there are 43 reels of separations and two reels of track negative from some film you have never heard of. So a lot of it is very bad recordkeeping.
MR. TABB: David.
MR. CHASMAN: I would like to clarify a point. I read your piece last night, by the way, with great interest. The information you were given on Tom Jones is wildly inaccurate.
In the first place, United Artists in those days never looked at works in progress. UA never saw a film until the filmmaker was ready to show it, and in the case of Tom Jones that was after the post-production had been completed.
Second, United Artists never owned Tom Jones. UA had a ten-year distribution license. The film then reverted for distribution and all other purposes back to Woodfall, which was owned mostly by Tony Richardson, who was the producer and director of the film. So that the making of YCMs was never UA's responsibility; it was Woodfall's and that is why in the end you were dealing with Goldwyn, and not with UA, when the question of restoration and rerelease came up.
MR. HARRIS: I believe I spoke with, I think, Bill Hughes over in England who was post-production at UA at the time, and he told me that it was not a UA call on that. That is where I got my information.
MR. CHASMAN: I think your information is wrong. I lived in London all through the sixties working for United Artists and so this is something I know quite intimately. My reaction is that when the London office and the New York office finally saw the picture, which was very late in the game, there was nothing but bubbling enthusiasm for it. But, again, the responsibility for its preservation did not rest with United Artists. Your general observation, that United Artists is the worst of the studios, is probably conditioned by the fact that it is not a studio at all.
MR. HARRIS: Correct.
MR. CHASMAN: UA was always a financing and distribution operation, but the films were owned by the producers who brought them to UA for distribution.
MR. HARRIS: But did UA not have the rights, the necessity to warehouse the films?
MR. CHASMAN: Prints, not elements.
MR. HARRIS: Not elements? I keep hearing that people are looking for the stereo tracks for Exodus, that you cannot get decent materials on some of the early Bond films now.
MR. CHASMAN: Well, Otto Preminger--or his estate--would control most of the elements for Exodus.
MR. HARRIS: But it would have been UA that moved the materials around.
MR. CHASMAN: Not the materials. Just the prints. With the Bond films, it was a company called Danjaq, which was a partnership between Harry Saltzman and Cubbi Broccoli.
MR. TABB: I think we should get on to a--
MR. CHASMAN: However--
MR. TABB: Was there a general question, David?
MR. CHASMAN: No, that was it. It was a point of clarification, not a question.
MR. TABB: Milt?
MR. SHEFTER: A question for the entire panel. I believe you all have been involved in preservation and certainly work with labs. I am curious whether you have gone to labs and inspected work that they have done for you, the work that you have paid for?
MR. SHERMAN: I would like to answer that. I have been working in labs for over 30 years and I have found that generally there is a great deal of poor work that is done, just as you were mentioning, and they try to force you to take it by stating it is your material that is bad. I think by staying on top of that you tend to eliminate those problems. I mean, one of the labs we lost, Metrocolor MGM was a very fine lab. They stood behind the work they were doing; they tried to do the best work, and it is a shame we have lost them. Movielab, I would say, was a 50% lab, and some of these other marginal places were not very good either.
MR. RETTIG: There is a very special problem with that issue when it comes to the short and the documentary film and its general nature. So many of the elements are either in labs or, in some cases, vaulted within organizations for whom the film is not their primary business, maybe IBM, maybe a sponsor somewhere along the line. And you go and you say, as I have done from time to time: "Is there a print of this or that picture, or maybe a negative?" And the question back is: "What is a negative?"
So you really take that problem to incredible extremes when it comes to the non-feature or the documentary short film area.
MR. SHEFTER: But have you approved elements in a lab?
MR. RETTIG: Oh, sure. Yes. Apart from my own stuff.
MR. SHEFTER: Okay. And Mr. Sherman has said that he has. Mr. Harris, I assume that you have.
Is there no responsibility on the part of the purchaser of this service, the person that uses the lab, to inspect the elements and see what they are getting?
MR. SHERMAN: The purchaser has to be tough and go in and fight. Then they will do it the right way, when they should have done it the right way the first time.
MR. HARRIS: They have to know what they are looking at. If they do not know what they are looking at, you are going to get a print that is graded way out in left field.
I remember a conversation I had a number of years ago with Kevin Brownlow, who Mr. Francis is very familiar with. He would start jumping up and down if a black-and-white print done by Henderson's in London was graded one point down or one point up because it just was not perfect.
I am not saying that you have to be perfect, and the labs are certainly not going to be perfect. If they can get 90% as they are trying to do 700 films, that is wonderful.
I have the luxury of being as perfect as possible because I am working on one film for a year or a year-and-a-half. I drive the labs crazy. Some do not like me all that much.
MR. SHEFTER: But the preservation standard that you are suggesting, which has a lot of merit, should that apply just to the labs or should it also apply to people who buy services from the labs?
MR. HARRIS: It should absolutely. I think the studios should hire people that know what they are doing. You just cannot put a 26-year-old junior executive (although they might be great in one job) in there and say, "Oversee our library, create an asset protection program for us." There are a few people that do that in Hollywood that are very, very good at it, and there are also some that have not the foggiest idea what they are looking at.
MR. SHERMAN: I wonder if I might add a quick story to that. At one major lab in New York which is no longer in New York, I had seen a dark print as a sample print, second sample print.
The whole print was too dark and I said, "Well, just junk that, so it does not get in the way when we make the release prints." And he said, "Oh, no, don't worry about that, we are going to use a reel of it in this print, a reel of that in that print, so they will have a dark reel eight in one print and a dark reel one in another print." That actually happened, and it happened with major films.
I should also point out I happened to see some of the restoration work done on the East Coast for two of the major labs, 20th Century Fox and some of the Warner Bros. material, and the work was terrible.
I mean, that is why you see a lot of these pictures and they are dealing with finegrains that were made 20 or 30 years ago improperly. It is all they have left because, when they finished with the safety conversion, they junked the nitrate negative in many cases.
MR. TABB: Dr. Billington?
DR. BILLINGTON: The business of establishing standards is a very central part of what the Library does in a variety of fields and, of course, we do a lot of it. We also have the larger of the only two full-time government-funded labs that work on film preservation, the National Archives being the other one.
But have any of you visited our Wright-Patterson center where most of this preservation is done? I am just curious. And, if not, I just want to invite you all to come and visit so you can help us assess our own standards and perhaps advise us as to how we should proceed.
MR. SHERMAN: Excuse me. There is a practical problem and that is: time is money. Ideally, the best preservation material is step printed, one frame at a time. Where continuous printing is quicker and cheaper, it is not as sharp, the film is not in intimate contact, so that represents a problem.
I bet if you go to your laboratory, you will see a lot of things continuous printed because you could not afford to step print them.
DR. BILLINGTON: Well, I would be willing to bet a lot of things but--[Laughter.] I guess those of you who are so articulate and persuasive on the need for this and the standards for this will accept our invitation to pay a visit out there.
MR. HARRIS: Thank you. Is the weather there any better than it is here? [Laughter.]
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: Can I ask a naive question? Can standards like this for labs be put down in words? I mean, can there be written standards? Or is that something you have to teach people?
MR. HARRIS: I do not think so. I think you have to gain an acuity for it. You have to know what you are looking at. You know, it is the Kevin Brownlow story all over again. If you are one point off on density, he is going to see it.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: So it is in training the people who are in the positions of--
MR. HARRIS: I think probably the best archive that I know of around for creating really good materials is the BFI.
MR. SHERMAN: I would say that is the visual acuity situation. On the other side, the question of what I was saying how these things are created, that can be written, in other words, standards for how you restore them. Then it gets to be experts who judge that work.
MR. TABB: Mr. Mendenhall, you wanted to make a comment?
MR. MENDENHALL: Yes. Thank you. The panel might be interested in knowing that the motion picture division of USIA for many years had a very carefully trained quality control panel; they were tough with labs, and a lot of the credit for that goes to George Stevens. A number of those people are still with the agency in the event you might be interested in a technical resource.
MR. TABB: Very good. I think at this point we need to draw the morning session to a close. We will reconvene at 1:30 so we will have a relatively short lunch. We have to try to get back on schedule. So if you could rejoin us at 1:30, I would appreciate it.
[At 12:40 p.m., the hearing was adjourned, to be reconvened at 1:30 p.m.]
Proceedings: Afternoon Session
MR. TABB: Mary Lea will be joining us in just in a minute but since we are going alphabetically and she comes last, I think we will go ahead and start. Chris, would you lead off, please? Statement of Jan-Christopher Horak, Senior Curator, George Eastman House, representing the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA)
MR. HORAK: First I would like to say that I am speaking today as President of the Association of Moving Image Archivists but when we get to the discussion, of course, I will not reject any questions pertaining to my main function, and that is, of course, as Senior Curator of the Eastman House.
The Association of Moving Image Archivists was founded in November 1991, in New York, by representatives of over 80 American and Canadian film and television archives. Previously grouped loosely together in an ad hoc organization, Film Archives Advisory Committee/ Television Archives Advisory Committee, euphemistically known as FAAC/TAAC, it was felt that the field had matured sufficiently to create a national organization to pursue the interests of its constituents. According to the recently drafted bylaws of the association, AMIA is a nonprofit corporation, chartered under the laws of California to provide a means for cooperation among individuals concerned with the collection, preservation, exhibition and use of moving image materials, whether chemical or electronic.
The objectives of the association are:
a) To provide regular means of exchanging information, b) To take responsible positions on archiving matters, c) To encourage public awareness of and interest in preservation, d) To promote moving image archival activities, e) To promote professional standards and practices, and f) To stimulate and facilitate research on archival matters.
As you know, I made a longer statement, and I will not go through the whole history of FAAC/TAAC and AMIA, but I think it is important to point out that, as was said earlier today, that the whole field of moving image preservation has really exploded in the last ten years as has the number of organizations involved in this project of film preservation and television preservation. I think we should point out that even television preservation includes chemical material, in other words, all the fifties television shows which were put on 16mm, so I think they are a part of this mandate here, that this field has expanded incredibly, and that now there is such a large number of organizations involved, that it becomes a very complex project.
In the past few years, moving image preservation seems to have expanded for a number of different reasons. This development can be attributed first of all to the growth of specialty archives devoted to particular genres or interests, such as the Dance Film Collection at Lincoln Center, and the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis; (2) the donation of numerous previously privately owned 16mm news television collections to nonprofit institutions such as the Chicago Historical Society; (3) the development of regional archives with regional interests such as the Northeast Historic Film Center in Maine or the Hawaii Moving Image Preservation Project; (4) the increased interest of film archivists in the studios; (5) the expanded role of all moving images in our culture.
This growth in the number of individuals and institutions involved in moving image preservation has radically altered the nature and complexity of the project. A major change has been an increased sensitivity to the kinds of moving image materials worthy and in need of film preservation.
As noted, the old FAAC/TAAC was almost exclusively focused on the preservation of the best surviving nitrate film of American entertainment fiction features. Through the evolution of AMIA, it has become clear that many other kinds of moving images, often categorized under the heading of ephemeral film, deserve and require attention: avant-garde film, documentaries, newsreels, industrials, animation, advertising, amateur films, films on art, anthropological footage, unedited historical footage, films by racial and ethnic minorities, scientific and medical films, travelogues, political action films, education films, trailers, commercials, etc., etc.
Much of this moving image material is only available on nitrate. And I think here the discussion has really been very much focused on nitrate, but I think we need to also be cognizant of the fact that acetate material is now decomposing. So much of the material that is out there that is unique material is an acetate master, and not necessarily nitrate.
This incredible diversity of moving image materials reflects the rich and complex traditions of film in the United States. Hopefully the National Film Preservation Board and the National Film Registry will recognize the rich cultural heritage of our national moving image production, moving beyond a narrow focus on Hollywood fiction features. As it stands, the board's selection of "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant films is presently limited to almost exclusively mainstream Hollywood fiction film productions with only a token nod to avant-garde, documentary and minority film production.
In point of fact, rather than the 12% reflected in the National Registry, the great majority of films produced in this country are not Hollywood entertainment films, but rather the kinds of films that I have mentioned above. And these are the main focus of attention for most of the members of AMIA.
Moreover, many of the films listed by the Registry in the past three years have been adequately preserved in member archives of AMIA and the American FIAF archives, making a duplication of preservation efforts at the Library a possible waste of public funds.
A national registry, however, is only a first step. A national plan for establishing preservation priorities must be established which takes into account the great diversity of materials produced in this country. Coordination of all these preservation activities by a host of public and private institutions is paramount due to the overwhelming mass of material in need of such care.
A national database of moving image materials, once functioning and accessible to all members of the film archives community, will be a primary tool in such a coordination process. While the National Moving Image Database at the National Center for Film and Video Preservation aspires to such a role, limited funding has so far hampered its capability to achieve such a goal. At present the databases of approximately 25 archives have been input into the system, but access has been presently restricted to the wishes of some of the cooperating members.
Part of the problem is that the field as a whole has not yet agreed on making MARC the standard for moving image database cataloging. Hopefully a database system will one day become available to all members of the archival community, allowing them to instantly access the collections of all other subscribing members, just as librarians today have such access to the book collections of their colleagues through OCLC.
Finally, the issue of funding must be addressed squarely. At present, the only public funding available to the field is through the National Endowment for the Arts Film Preservation Program or through NHPRC. This program has been in existence for over 20 years. Yet despite the growth of AMIA and the field as a whole, NEA funding has stagnated at 1980 levels. The same monies available at that time, $335,000 with another $145,000 going to the American Film Institute to administer the program, is still being divided today between the major nitrate-holding archives and a few other selected archives. The great majority of those funds still go towards the preservation of mainstream Hollywood films. Given present funding levels and NEA guidelines for film preservation funding, this situation is not expected to change.
Yet the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of moving image materials in need of preservation in this country have to find some other source of funding. It is true that the major American film companies have taken an increased interest in their own holdings as reflected in their cooperation with AMIA and their own intensified preservation activity. At the same time it must be noted that these private companies responsible to their stockholders cannot be made responsible for any film in which they do not have a direct economic interest- -that is, any films for which they do not own copyright.
Unfortunately, a large majority of the films presently in need of preservation are not covered by copyright. In terms of quantity, we are facing the imminent decomposition of at least 100 to 200 million feet of film and much of this is orphaned. These include silent films made by major film companies where the copyright has expired, all those films produced by major film companies that were never copyrighted, all those films produced by smaller film companies, independents and poverty row studios which have since gone out of business, newsreels, documentaries, avant-garde productions, animation and other ephemeral films.
Funding for the preservation of all these moving images must be an issue for the National Film Preservation Board and more generally for the Congress of the United States. All the individual and institutional members of the Association of Moving Image Archivists would be happy to cooperate with any public or private institution to make this preservation effort a reality. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Chris. Mr. Mekas, we are glad to welcome you from Anthology Film Archives, but also as an alternate member of the National Film Preservation Board. Statement of Jonas Mekas, Artistic Director, Anthology Film Archives
MR. MEKAS: I am happy to be here. Chris said most of what I will be saying. I will be quite brief.
Cinema -- or, if one prefers, the motion pictures -- is like a big tree with many branches. The Hollywood movie is only one of the branches of this huge tree. There are other equally green branches: the branch of the documentary film, the branch of the avant-garde or poetic film, the branch of the home movie and the anthropological film, etc.
This multi-branched nature of cinema should not be forgotten when we talk about preservation of our moving image heritage.
Another thing to remember is that each of these branches has very strong advocates, I would say even fanatics, who will insist and very persuasively sometimes, that their branch is the only one that matters. An example: if one would estimate the importance of motion pictures in our culture or civilization today by what is annually voted into the National Film Registry, one would conclude that commercial Hollywood movies constitute 95% of what is important to preserve or see from all that was done in the past or is being done today in the medium of moving images.
Future generations will be interested in what kind of movies made us laugh, cry or cringe. But equally the future generations, students and scholars will be searching for visual documents of our daily life, the movies that recorded our daily activities, our weddings, our birthday parties, our children growing up. Yes, our home movies. And also our more public activities, our governments, our wars, our ozone holes, our travels into outer space, the work of our moving image journalists.
And then, after they will have seen all the melodramas of all the Hollywoods and all the documents of real life, they will be surprised and elated to see the work of our film poets, the work of our avant-garde filmmakers singing in their work the complex beauty of the world we live in.
They will see that we were interested not only in violence, guns, sex, drugs and circus. They will see the human spirit move into more subtle aesthetic and spiritual spheres and they will be uplifted and transported into those spheres themselves, as we all are by the works of the great poets of the past.
One more thing I would like to say or stress regarding the preservation of our moving image heritage. We should not entrust it entirely to the archivists. We have today in the United States over 1200 universities and colleges teaching film. We have a solid body of film historians and scholars who are familiar with all the branches of this huge tree called cinema. Their input is vital in deciding the priorities of what should be preserved from each of these branches. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much. Mr. Homiak from the Human Studies Film Archives. Statement of John P. Homiak, Director, Human Studies Film Archives, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
MR. HOMIAK: Good afternoon. It is nice to be here. I am the director of the Human Studies Film Archives and I am here to attempt to make you aware of a rather specialized and eclectic collection that we have at the Smithsonian. We are really the only national archives working with this kind of material.
This is an aspect of our nation's cultural heritage that is little known outside the pursuits of anthropology, ethnographic and documentary filmmaking and scholarly archival film practice. It is, however, an enormously rich body of material which documents the lifeways of non-western and indigenous peoples at various times and places in this century. And in our collection we break this down into about three areas. I have more or less constructed these for presenting them today.
One is anthropological filmmaking projects from which edited films have been made; another are ethnographic research films, a genre which had a short life during the sixties and seventies; and the third, travelogues, scenics, expeditionary films and something that you might call safari ethnography or amateur ethnography.
All of these materials provide a wealth of data, both about culture and on culture. They incorporate our ideology about native peoples and at the same time they actually document and encode visually information on them. There is a wealth of such materials yet to be preserved across this country in places such as university archives, state historical societies, museums, in the attics of professional scholars and travelers, and other bureaus in this government like the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Army, etc. As I said, we are really the only archives in the country preserving this.
The mandate for this preservation goes back to an NSF-sponsored conference in the early 1970s that was led by Margaret Mead and about 25 to 30 other anthropologists. At that time, these people conceived of the historic mission for visual anthropology to be documenting vanishing cultures. That is no longer either the primary or the only reason why we make ethnographic films. All of this material is, in some ways, important about how one culture, namely the dominant western culture, communicates information about another culture, various indigenous cultures around the world or ethnic subgroups within western countries.
As to the significance of these three categories of film that I have laid out for you, the first I have said are full film records of anthropological filmmaking projects that have had edited films made from them. These collections have been created by various professional filmmakers with extensive cultural knowledge or about the cultures they have filmed or trained ethnographic filmmakers working independently with or in concert with anthropological experts.
We have about 400,000 feet of such material in the archives. This includes holdings such as the !Kung Film Project, 700,000 feet shot by John Marshall and his family from the 1950s through the early 1980s; the Jie and Turkana Film Project shot by David and Judith MacDougall; the Yanomam÷ Film Project shot by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon on the Yanomam÷ Indians of Southern Venezuela and Brazil, the Yanomam÷ being the largest unacculturated group of American Indians in South America. And in the written testimony I have listed a number of such projects.
These are, as I said, of interest because of the way they document culture change, particular cultural patterns, but they are also of interest for scholars because they reflect changes in the methodology of anthropological filmmaking.
I have laid out in my written testimony also some information about anthropological research films that we have at the Smithsonian, these being related primarily to the mandate to document vanishing cultures. I think it is fair to say that most of the research-type anthropological film, I believe, is at the Smithsonian largely because the small group of visual anthropologists who came together in the seventies had an agenda to make these types of films. They did make them and archive them at that institution. And since that time, both funding for this kind of work and interest in it has waned, so we do not see as much of that.
As to films like travelogues, scenics and what I have called safari ethnography, here is an area of film that I think really needs a lot more attention. These materials, I believe, are of historic interest for a number of reasons. If we look at the types of films that were being made by Burton Holmes in the early part of this century up to travelogues before World War I or before the advent of television, we really have a genre here in the film lecture tradition which was one of the major ways in which American people learned about non-western people. And speaking from my knowledge, I do not believe that the entirety of the Burton Holmes collections or other films of this genre like the Path_ science series, which is certainly a type of film which attempted to represent early on in this century native cultures, are fully preserved anywhere. We have preserved a few of them at the Smithsonian, but basically we acquire information about them in bits and pieces through networking with people in the film archive community. This is an area that I would like to see receive more attention.
Again, a few words about our specialized mission. Not only do we preserve these kinds of materials, we are interested in enhancing the context of it, so it is just not preserving film by putting it in a vault. We attempt, whenever possible, to do annotations with filmmakers that contextualize the material, to make it available to scholars. We use appropriate experts; we attempt to gather supplementary information on this. And we have online computer records in a MARC-format mode that makes them available to people who use our archive.
I think archives that are collecting this type of material--what I would like to see is through an organization like NAMID--archives who are collecting this kind of material, I would like to see it catalogued and made available in some standardized format on MARC record or something similar with a standardized authority index. We use the human relations area files.
A note of importance on some of this amateur ethnography material that we have that I think many anthropologists would tend to overlook, and say, [because] it was not done by a professional, it has little interest from the standpoint of genuine ethnography or scientific value. One of the things we have found, for example, with amateur films on Native Americans is that travellers were some of the only people shooting footage like this in the early part of the century, not only in this country but around the world. And that footage that, when it first came to the archives, you might have thought, "Well, it did not have really too much scientific value," we find now that it is of interest to Native Americans themselves who want to reappropriate these images, to incorporate this in indigenous filmmaking that they are doing, and to recontextualize the meanings of the way in which they were depicted.
This is an area where we have taken a lead in working with native communities in Alaska. We have had some good working relationships with the North Slope communities, with the Cook Inlet Regional Association, and we have also made some overtures to Native Americans in Mexico, the Wechaw and the Tarimara, among whom we have, I believe, some of the first film footage ever shot.
Now, basically all we need to be able to preserve these materials and make them available in a scholarly way is time, personnel and money. That is everything we do not have. I have been told that I am not allowed to say what my budget is at the film archives, so I am not going to say it. But I will tell you that, having been there for five years, what it was five years ago, it is just about half right now. And what it was five years ago, it was not even half what I have heard people in the archival community say is the kind of survival level, a figure of $300,000 was thrown out as the survival level. Well, when I got there five years ago, we were a long way from that survival level.
But I think this material is increasingly important to scholars as a historical record. I think we have to think long and hard about how we treat this material, not only the historical records which might have been of a first-contact-kind-of-thing which now we look back on them, and we say, "Well, these have enormous value for the historian," but how we are treating the same kind of material today. Because 50 and 100 years from now, this kind of material will have the same interest to scholars, to native peoples, as the earliest anthropological records that we have produced. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Paul Spehr from the Library of Congress Motion Picture Division. Statement of Paul Spehr, Assistant Chief, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress
MR. SPEHR: I am Paul Spehr. I am the Assistant Chief of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.
Thank you, Mr. Tabb. It is a privilege to be able to appear at a meeting which is really, I think, one of the significant events in the history of film archives.
I have prepared a statement on behalf of the Library's staff which represents input from a number of our staff. It reviews both the Library's role in the film archive world, and it assesses some of the things we have achieved and some of the things which we have found have not worked as well as we would have liked over the years.
I am not going to read that because I think that this is information that a lot of you know. We put it forward because we felt it was important to state it.
As I looked over this particular occasion, it seemed to me that we needed to look at the importance of having a session such as this, and that I could say a little bit of why I thought it was so important. I think it is important primarily because it comes at a very significant time in the history of the archives movement, and I am suddenly aware that I am sort of a senior citizen archivist here. It comes as a shock, but I am the one person in the room who has worked in an archive longer than 30 years. Jonas probably comes close to that but Jonas makes films, too.
But my point is that the movement is not an old movement. I have worked through easily half of the entire history of the film archive movement. It started a little earlier than 1935, but the Museum of Modern Art's establishment of a film archive in 1935 is really the beginning in the United States. The National Archives was started at the same time. The Library waited around another four or five years before it moved into the film archives field. We started without a clear perception of what we were doing as we began to collect film, because the Library is a place of using materials and of organizing materials, and preservation always comes as a secondary activity.
We discovered we have to preserve material, but primarily we want to make it accessible and have people use it. And this is our goal. When we began to collect films at the Library, we did not collect them with the objective of preserving film for posterity. And I think this was generally true at other institutions.
I wrote down a sort of a time span for film archives and the first time span was probably 1935 to 1967--1967 because that is the year that the NEA program was established and a regular program of funding film preservation really began on a serious basis. From 1935 to 1967, the characterization that I have written down on my notes here is that it is a period of enthusiasm. This is a period when people who really loved film came into archives and worked with film because it had been such an important part of their life that they felt it was important to collect it, to organize it, and to somehow or other make it accessible to people.
These people either were filmmakers themselves or they were historians and scholars. The first thing they had to learn was what negatives and positives were, masters and this sort of thing. It was a foreign language. They had to deal with film laboratories, and they had not the vaguest notion of what gamma was or what a contact or an optical printer was. And many of them did not really care. One of the more famous characterizations of Henri Langlois is that he really did not care about whether a film was preserved or not. I discussed this with him one time, and his statement to me was that a film was not preserved in a can. He said, "In a can it is nothing. A film is preserved when it is on a screen in front of an audience with people reacting to it." And of course he is right. If you come right down to it, the film in the can is not the final state of preservation. However, he is wrong to the extent that if you are projecting the film today, you will not have it some time in the future.
Those of us who came into the archive movement during the period before 1967 were beginning to get an awareness that there really was a long-term need for material that went beyond making the public aware of the value of it. But the Langloises and the Margaretta Alsermarks and the many, many people who worked so hard in the archive movement in the earlier years did a very important thing because they did create the public consciousness of the importance of what had gone before in the industry.
Even on an experimental basis, or for any working filmmaker, filmmaking is a current and a future thing. It is hard to get filmmakers to consider what they made last year. They only start worrying about the older films when they are old and retiring, but as long as they are active as a filmmaker, they are working on something now. Their interest is in what people are reacting to, what they have just finished, and they are concerned about moving on to something new. This is an industry that has not had a great deal of awareness of its past. Well, these early archivists created an important awareness of film and it was groundwork that was absolutely essential.
Now, I came into it and really became involved in the preservation movement in the late fifties and early sixties, when we were very much in a transitional period. This was a period in which we were formalizing the preservation activities and we were becoming more aggressive in acquiring materials for the collections. Particularly in the late sixties and early seventies, we accomplished a great deal here in the United States because we were able to sweep a lot of material into collections. Of course, the Library was the great wastebasket for film collections.
Dr. Billington's predecessors were sometimes absolutely appalled at the things we were doing because truckloads of films were arriving at the vaults. We had to move out of Washington, and suddenly we established an outpost in the west, in Ohio. We were bringing in large quantities of film. We were quite correct to do this, I think. It was really the only thing that we could do.
We spent a lot of time trying to figure out the processes of preservation. After looking at the process of sending film to commercial laboratories and doing the sort of struggling that Bob Harris described this morning of getting the film back from the laboratory and saying, "good heavens, what is this?" and sending it back and forth and back and forth several times, John Kuiper said the only thing to do is to start our own laboratory. He almost swindled money out of the American Film Institute to start the laboratory, and it started on a very small basis. He did not really swindle money, [Laughter.] --but it was a little bit "sub rosa" in the way that it was done. We had to search around for equipment; we had to get it modified. We spent about three years of really learning what we were doing. In the process, we made a lot of mistakes because we did not have the kinds of standards that we really needed to do the work. But we learned it.
We talked to our cohorts, and we talked to people in laboratories. We spent a period of being very critical of our own work; we discovered that sometimes we were trying to overlook the mistakes we made. I think that we could characterize the last ten years as a period in which professionalism in the archives has become the standard rather than the exception. And now we have an archival community now that has done its homework, and is ready to go to work. But this is also a period of frustration because for the last ten years the resources that have supported film preservation have come to a grinding halt. The money that is coming to the Library's film preservation program is at approximately the same levels that it was about 15 years ago. There have been slight increases for the inflation allowance. The costs of preservation have gone up more than three times. Film costs much, much more. The chemicals and all the supporting activity are more expensive. The process of preservation is also more costly because 10 or 15 years ago we could take a can off the shelf, copy it as it was and be content with it. But we have learned, in the meantime, that the contents of that can may be very incomplete and may require much more sophisticated work to turn it into the kind of thing that really represents the preservation of our heritage. So now we are now having to look at the contents of a number of cans, maybe getting on the phone and calling up the Museum of Modern Art or George Eastman House, or working out an exchange arrangement to exchange material from institution to institution, borrow material from commercial sources. We spend a good deal more time creating the kind of work that we should have been doing from the beginning.
The results are much better, but our ability to produce it has been declining at a rather rapid rate because there has not been an increase in resources.
So it is a time for reassessment of where we are going and how we are going to get there. I think the reports that come from this hearing are really very important. We heard from Chris on behalf of the hundreds of new archives that are coming along. They are impatient with the older guys, who have been in the game for some time because we have spent so much time worrying the nitrate issue and preserving Hollywood films and this sort of thing. We have done that because we have not had very much choice. The nitrate issue is sort of like a tar baby. We have gotten involved with it. We have taken on large quantities of it, and we simply cannot abandon it. Without larger resources, we have to stay with it.
We all know that we are confronting very, very serious difficulties in the color problem that is in front of us. Bob Harris pointed this out today. We know that there is a serious disaster sitting in the film vaults all over the country, color material is beginning to fade away and is almost gone. We also know that similar problems are confronting us with magnetic material. So we need to take a look at how we can move forward into these areas.
Well, I think that is probably enough for the time being in here, but I do look forward to the process of creating this particular report because it is extremely important.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Paul. I would like to welcome Mary Lea Bandy who is today representing the Museum of Modern Art but also is a member of the National Film Preservation Board.
Statement of Mary Lea Bandy, Director, Department of Film, Museum of Modern Art
MS. BANDY: Thank you. From its inception in 1935, the Museum of Modern Art Film Department has built an archive comprising more than 12,000 titles today which span the history of filmmaking from 1893 to films produced last year. While our collection is international in scope, the majority of its titles were produced in the United States and our collection principally includes short and feature-length narratives, documentaries, experimental and animation films acquired from a wide variety of resources.
But the collection is noteworthy for our holdings of the early years of film history. In the thirties and forties, the museum acquired all the surviving original negatives of the Edison Company and the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, which includes 400 short films directed by D.W. Griffith, as well as films of the Vitagraph Company, negatives and prints of Griffith's features films, and films of Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Harold Lloyd, William S. Hart and many others. And it is this core collection which has proved invaluable for the study of history and the culture of our times, and has over the years been made widely available to scholars, filmmakers and archives--it is this core collection which continues to require the most extensive and ongoing care.
We have also acquired film materials from still-active film and television companies, such as our Fox collection of over 400 features. These companies retain full rights governing exhibition, access and copying. It is important to emphasize that the new materials that we make, the preservation materials which are made with funds from government and private sources, are made available to these rights holders who can and do come back to us to make new film and video printing materials for re-release, including worldwide telecasting and home video.
Storage has been a key factor in the preservation efforts. I think it is safe to say that most films in archives today, whether nitrate or acetate, preprint or prints, have been deposited principally to save the donors the cost of long-term storage. Archivists and historians have been grateful to acquire these materials in order that they may be protected, studied and seen by future generations. And we have often sought but seldom received funds from depositors for the care and keeping of these materials.
We do insist on the right to make preservation materials which will be the property of the archives. These depositors may have one-time access to our preservation materials. And, of course, they retain access to their original donations. Archives take the long view that the films must be protected. Depositors rid themselves of expense and responsibility but retain full access and exploitation rights.
As early as 1936, the museum and several film companies signed an agreement whose principal provisions were that the museum might make prints at its expense from any of the negatives held by any company, that such prints were to be used within and without the museum's walls for strictly educational use. The museum subsequently developed its circulating film library which distributed these prints primarily to schools, universities, libraries, festivals and other archives.
Over the years, the companies withdrew their prints, the Hollywood films, from this library as commercial distributors grew in the forties and fifties and started to handle the films for the companies. So we expanded in other areas and our circulating library today comprises over 1100 titles of silent American and European features, shorts, documentaries and experimental films.
We remain the only archive to have such a circulating program. We serve as an outlet for the distribution of selected films preserved or produced and acquired by not only our archive, but by George Eastman House, the National Film Board of Canada, the British Film Institute Production Board, the American Federation of Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation. This library is run at a break-even budget. We pay 50% royalties to all rights holders, and over the past 15 years we have had to raise over $500,000 from government and private foundations to put into this program to make quality materials, to replace wornout prints and to provide increased and improved access.
It is ironic that as public awareness of the importance of preservation has broadened, it is very, very difficult to raise money today to support our film projects. Government and corporate funding is shrinking, partly because everyone continues to ask the same questions: "Shouldn't the film studios fund the archives? Aren't the film studios realizing a profit from the release of our films on video?"
Unlike film companies, archives never reap a profit from their work and, in fact, we have sometimes been viewed by Hollywood companies as charities. But we do not want to be perceived as being outside the mainstream of film distribution. We want films to be preserved so they may be seen. We want to provide, indeed, to improve, access to films by a broad public and we want those films to make a profitable return for their investors, their makers.
What we want most of all is to be a partner in this effort, to serve as consultants on issues in which we have expertise, in exhibition, restoration, audience development and distribution. It is the collaborative nature of our work that I think archivists most enjoy and I would like to see a roster of collaborative programs established by archives and companies to get the job done.
I will just quickly mention two projects. Michael Schulhof established a committee of senior officers from Sony Entertainment and Columbia Pictures and representatives of three major archives as well as the British Film Institute to jointly oversee a long-term plan to preserve Columbia Pictures productions. Each archive works directly with Columbia staff. The company covers the cost of all lab work and makes a contribution to each archive's staff and research budgets. Columbia receives their original restored materials and makes new printing materials from our restoration. They can use these for theatrical rerelease and television and video release. All the partners in this effort learn much from the program and a substantive body of Columbia films is now being preserved. I feel this is a model of collaboration.
We recently completed the preservation of the Columbia title On the Waterfront. An important aspect of this undertaking is that for the first time we are working with a studio on a film of the post-nitrate era, a period of over four decades of filmmaking of which many motion pictures need safeguarding, particularly elements of color and sound.
My colleague Peter Williamson has pointed out that no archive is routinely receiving high quality preprint materials of this period. At best, we are given prints. It would seem to be advantageous for archives to receive preprint on films before they develop problems requiring extensive preservation and restoration such as On the Waterfront. Deposit agreements, as always, would continue to protect rights holders' interests and in the longterm the care of these films would be less costly to everyone involved.
The museum has also acquired prints and negatives of Andy Warhol's films, a deposit that was authorized by the artist before his death. The museum has undertaken not only the preservation of the films but, at the request of the Warhol Foundation, all nontheatrical access to these films. The Whitney Museum collaborates on the research and cataloging, essential for determining which versions of the films are to be restored. Copies of the preserved titles are distributed by our circulating library. Part of the income that is earned is put back into the library and other programs in the Department of Film, as is a multi-year grant from the Warhol Foundation. The films' rights holders, the Warhol Estate, have complete access to the original and preserved material, and they will go on to develop marketing strategies for the films in future theatrical and video distribution. This is a rare example but I think it is an important one to look at very seriously.
Finally, I would like to point out in response to Brian O'Doherty's comments this morning on the problem of exhibition of our work that I was trying to analyze how much of our collection we make available. Between our circulating library, our exhibition program, our rentals to schools, our private viewings by scholars and classes in the museum and our public programs, we show between 3000 and 5000 films a year that have been preserved in our archive or preserved by other archives. I think the principle of our work and the thrust of our work has been to make access much broader for all of our preserved materials. This is not necessarily well enough understood but it is the core of most of the programs that we carry out at the museum, as it is for the other FIAF archives whom I am representing.
I did not prepare a report on FIAF figures but I think I probably should analyze loans by archives from all over the world because I think you would be very impressed. We certainly--I believe I speak for all of us--make every effort to lend our preserved materials as quickly as they are finished.
The biggest problem that we have, given our limited, limited budgets for preservation is we do not have enough money to make exhibition prints. My colleague Eileen Bowser, who is retiring, has left me a list of over 300 films that we have preserved for which we have not had the funds to make prints. This is a job that she has asked me to find the funding for and get in the works. It is a very important one but has never been a part of our preservation budget because the limited funds that we can raise all go into preprint material. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Mary Lea. Are we ready for questions?
MR. FRANCIS: I think this is probably addressed to either Chris or Mary Lea. There has been a lot of discussion of the NAMID database. I know that certain material is restricted in it and it does not cover whole areas, but I think it does cover the main archival collections. I really want to know, from a practical point of view in deciding the priorities of preservation within the archives, how much each of you use the database, and how valuable you find it, and if there are any ways in which you would find it more valuable? In other words, any ways you can suggest that would make it more valuable for the practical purpose of deciding what materials to use and where to find them?
MS. BANDY: Well, certainly our cataloging effort of our own collection, which was a collaborative effort with other archives, spent much too much time in its early years trying to refine the filmographic terminology, and we did not do enough inventory control data input. And it has only been within the last five years I think that archives other than the Library have been paying attention to the need to describe the physical holdings in the database. We are progressing in that, but we are so used to dealing with our manual systems and our annual inspections of materials for preservation priorities that I do not think we are depending yet on a database system for determining priorities.
We have one cataloger, a grant-funded position in the museum and that person cannot put in all of the data. Our warehouse staff are being trained to do input in the computer as we receive new materials and inspect them, but I see this as several years of training before we will have a usable database. Chris?
MR. HORAK: Well, I agree with Mary Lea. I guess my own experience is that we have put our database into NAMID. We were one of the first archives to do so. The major problem at this point as far as I see it: the NAMID database uses the STAR system which is not a MARC formatted system. That means that the information has to be converted to MARC, which it can be, converted from MARC through a program that puts it into STAR. Then to get the information out you have to go the same way; you have to convert it back into MARC.
We received funding through NAMID, and I think it is an important first step, but at this point it is not a practical way to get immediate information. When I need that kind of information on a film to preserve, I am much more apt to call up Susan Dalton, who has her own database, and find out what is there, than to call up Los Angeles simply because of this difficulty in terms of the transfer of information.
MR. CHASMAN: A question for Ms. Bandy. The MoMA circulating library, of which by the way I have been a beneficiary, consists of 16mm prints. This is a technology that is rapidly falling out of fashion. Do you share that view? Do you have plans to expand the 16mm library, or does MOMA have the right or the inclination to convert the 16mm prints to videotape and try to circulate those?
MS. BANDY: We have the right and the inclination to go to 35mm in our 16mm collection. And where we can, we are doing that on a very, very limited basis. The videos that we distribute are videos of independent video art which the video artist has made. Or, in the case of documentaries, we have made a major exception. For documentary programs made for television, if the filmmaker with whom we have the royalty arrangement, if the filmmaker distributes the work in both video and film, we will do the same.
We have not sought the rights to distribute the films in our archives on videotape. We have a philosophical quarrel with that. We believe that we should be providing films for educational use as film. That is one aspect of it. We certainly do not have the resources or the manpower or legal counsel to begin the process of converting and distributing videotapes.
I think that every archive has thought about possible video distribution. Certainly the Library has, Eastman House has, but none of us has sat down and tried to come up with a way to do this.
In some instances, I think putting materials on videodisc would be the best for educational use. I would support an experimental program because I think in one particular sense that you have an advantage--another track on the disc, on which you can have extra information, lectures, etc. You can have more information on it than you can on tape.
MR. TABB: Fay?
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: Mary Lea, when I was just looking over this description of the arrangement with Columbia, am I right that you get an exhibition print from them of all the films you help them to restore?
MS. BANDY: I have put that in as part of our agreement, that for every film we do with Columbia, an exhibition print is part of the budget.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: Is that true of the other archives that are helping? Is that true with UCLA and is it--
MS. BANDY: And the Library?
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: And the Library. Is that part of their agreement? Because as I read it, without that, it seems like it is all--besides that you are doing it so that you can see wonderful films preserved--to be to the interests of the studios. They got back their original material and they got the value of expert help from the archives.
It seems to me that there ought to be some more generous contribution from them to the whole preservation field, just for the field itself, for this wonderful [program]--I am thinking of it as a model.
MS. BANDY: I think the archives have to stress very strongly that making an exhibition print is the last phase of the preservation process. And I believe David would agree with me on that.
MR. FRANCIS: Yes. Certainly. Maybe the situation is slightly different at the Museum of Modern of Art. The print first and foremost is made--and I think it is very important to say this after what Bob Harris said this morning--as a way of testing that the preservation is satisfactory.
MS. BANDY: Yes, but I am talking, David, about not just an answer print but an extra print at the end of the process.
MR. FRANCIS: Even beyond--
MS. BANDY: Beyond that, that could go out all over the world and be shown everywhere because we have all the other materials. That is what I mean by an exhibition print.
MR. TABB: John?
MR. BELTON: Yes. For Chris Horak. Through involvement with the AMIA, I am wondering if you have any sense of what amount of documentary, experimental, avant-garde independent films exist in public archives that need preservation, and whether there is any kind of targeting of this within your organization? Or if there is information you can share with this study about what is out there? Where it is? Who holds minority films and what their status is?
MR. HORAK: In fact, I do not think I can. I do not think that anyone has really done any serious study on this subject. If we take, for example, just the television newsfilm archives, and what I mean by television newsfilm, that is 16mm film; it is film material. You cannot even imagine how much it is, held by virtually every state in the union. The private television stations have given this material now to universities, to historical societies, et cetera. And so that material alone, it runs into the millions and millions of feet.
Documentary material, I would say the same thing, newsreels, industrials, etc. It is a huge quantity of material. Maybe a more specific example, at Eastman House we have tried in the past few years to collect all of the Eastman teaching films. Back from about the mid- 1920s to the mid-1930s, Eastman Kodak produced a series of approximately 200 films which were distributed to schools as educational films. There were travelogues; there were films about industries, etc., for use in social studies, history classes, etc., etc. All that survives of that material, because Kodak does not have the material any more, the original negatives, are the 16mm prints. So that these 16mm prints, of which I think we have now managed to collect from various people about 80% of the titles that we found in the catalog, all of them are, in that sense, preprint material now even though they are only 16mm prints. In these films, there are sometimes very unique material of a historical interest, in terms of early industries in this country at the turn of the century, in terms of agriculture; it is really a document of our social history, and none of that has been preserved yet. The best we can do at this point is to store it properly and hope at some future date we will be able to make negatives and prints.
MR. TABB: Milt?
MR. SHEFTER: I would like to address this question to Paul Spehr, not because of your claim of seniority on the panel, but you are in a unique catbird's seat in your position at the Library, kind of at the crossroads of the public and the private sector. And with your experience and with your constant communication throughout all the archives, what do you see as the major problem in preservation that we should address today and, then after that, tomorrow?
MR. SPEHR: That is a very difficult question, Milt. Ultimately it is resources, but resources is a very big term. It is resources in terms of dollars, of course. It is also resources in terms of facilities.
When I went over listing one of our library problems, we are always struggling with facilities. It is sort of inherent with any archival institution because you never have enough room to store as much material as you want. You never have quite as good facilities as you would like to have. So definitely those particular factors are there.
I think there are some other aspects, too, that go along with it. Part of the resources are also informational resources, what we have just been talking about in terms of the educational films. We simply do not know how much there is there to preserve nor do we know the preservation problems that are coming along with it. We are still learning the preservation problems with the collections that we already have; we have not fully documented all of our information there. So we need to complete those activities.
I think that when you look at the other areas of problems, the problem of color preservation and the instability of safety film, we need here technical resources, the information about how to handle these problems better and maybe technical standards as well along with it. These are all resource elements that we need for the future. And I am not sure which one I would give priority on.
MR. TABB: John? Other questions?
MR. BELTON: I guess a follow-up with Paul Spehr about the history of preservation again. A number of studios and archives have talked to us about the problems they have had in preserving films again and again. And I am wondering what experience the Library has had with this.
And there is a second part of the question, too. I remember doing research about 20 years ago at the Library of Congress and finding that a film had been preserved, but that all I could look at was one reel of the film in 16mm. That seemed sort of odd; I mean, it was not even 35mm. I wonder if you could talk about that.
MR. SPEHR: Well, this, of course, again was the dollar problem, and it has been a frustration that everybody has confronted that has dealt with it. So few dollars have been available for preservation that they have been spent, first of all, on only making preprint elements and frequently only on the material that you had in-house to do preservation with. The thing that has, I think, forced us somewhat into more sophisticated preservation in recent years has been the demands for product that is out among the public. The Pordenone Film Festival, for example, is a wonderful stimulus to improve preservation, because there you are taking a product and screening it before an audience, and seeing the reactions of the audiences to it.
Twenty years ago we were not doing that. Now we know that we have to produce a product that really emulates the original film, but it is expensive to do it. We know that after preserving film for 20 years we really do have to have something available to scholars and researchers. So we are much more active in producing copies that can be viewed by researchers on the premises. Those are sometimes videocopies. But this is also an issue that needs to be confronted for the future.
MR. TABB: Milt, you had another question?
MR. SHEFTER: If there is time. Yes. For Ms. Bandy. If I heard correctly, you were calling for some training. Yours, I think you said, was on the job. You said there are no graduate school courses or trainees or internship programs in film conservation. Would you elaborate on that and give us your suggestions on it?
MS. BANDY: I did not read that part of my statement in the interests of time, but it is very, very frustrating for the staffs of the archives because of our limited resources. Most of the people who come to work in this field of preservation, supervising lab work and learning to do it themselves, are self-taught. There have never been any major places to train them, no university programs, no graduate programs. And laboratories also have been founded and improved by people who love to do this work and have taught themselves to do it. So we have grown along with some of these private labs today who have become so skilled.
The passion and commitment of the few people that do this work is so great that they also are not about to take away from their work to train young people. It is extremely hard to get our conservator, Peter Williamson, to go anywhere. As David knows, we have sent him to Ohio. Peter would make a wonderful teacher, but he has his hands full doing his work. We do not even have the resources to hire people to come and work with him that he can train.
So Paul and I have talked about this over the years. I think the future really demands that archives, labs and studios try to find ways to expand not only facilities, but to educate staff, to get people interested in pursuing this as a career. I think it is terribly, terribly important.
MR. SPEHR: Absolutely.
MR. TABB: I think we need to move on to the next panel. Thank you all very much.
If the next group will come forward? Are you ready to begin, Mr. Bellardo? From the National Archives. Statement of Lewis Bellardo, Director, Preservation Policy and Services Division, National Archives
MR. BELLARDO: First of all, thank you very much for coming out on this crummy day with crummy weather to hear about our programs and our problems as well as our hopes and fears that we have regarding our holdings. Your reward for this is that I will be well within my five minutes, and will try to stay to that.
I am here to represent the National Archives and Records Administration. I am Director of the Preservation Policy and Services Division, which is responsible for developing policy in the area of preservation of the various media in our custody. We also operate a number of laboratories relating to various media, including motion picture film. I am happy to say that I have a couple of folks with me who have much greater technical knowledge than I: Bill Murphy, who represents the Nontextual Archives Division, which is the custodial unit responsible for our motion picture holdings, and also Charles Mayn, who is a specialist both in magnetic as well as in film preservation. Let me say that you have received, I think, the written statement and this is a very brief summary of it.
First, regarding our holdings, as the National Archives, we are responsible first and foremost for holding the official records of all media of the federal government. But in addition to that, we have a number of documentary materials that have been donated both to the archival units within the Washington area, but also to our presidential libraries system, which is spread across the country. All together we have something in excess of 400,000 reels of film, and these constitute a basic record of the moving image for the last 100 years.
Some of these films can be thought of as epics dealing with topics such as the construction of the Panama Canal, World War II, World War I, the Great Depression, more recently, Vietnam and the tragedies that took place there. Also, however, we have much footage of far less momentous events that nonetheless document processes of crafts and industries throughout our country. The films document the changes in the American landscape, the expansion of the highway system, the growth of cities, towns and suburbs. In addition, there is from the era before television a fine collection of newsreels which show people, places and events that have formed our national consciousness.
In their aggregate, these are a rich and unique record of our national heritage. We are proud that two of the films in our holdings, The River and The Battle of San Pietro have been named to your list of national treasures.
Let me also mention that taken as a whole we believe that they assist not only in the traditional government archives role of documenting the activities of government and also the accountability of government and protecting the rights of citizens, but also in terms of the future generations in answering two of the major historical questions: What was it like? and How did our country get to the point where it is?
In terms of preservation problems for nitrate film in our holdings, the conversion program ended in 1981. Nonetheless, we share many preservation problems with other archives who are represented here. Deteriorating film, vinegar syndrome, fading color, and now the emerging of new technologies as we try to merge film, video and so on.
In terms of our preservation priorities, we have tried to adopt a very conservative, practical approach, given the extent of our holdings and the limits to our resources, firstly, by trying to provide adequate storage conditions to the holdings. I think the written statement gives you some further documentation on that. Back in the late seventies, the Kennedy Library began providing protection for its holdings, and we in the Washington area in the mid-eighties began providing much better conditions than previously. And we are now looking forward to moving into the new archives facility in College Park, Maryland, which we refer to as Archives II.
We have, in addition to this basic strategy, a number of other strategies that we have adopted. Firstly, inspection and repair of the film medium itself, and the transferring of film materials to proper housings. I must add, however, in this we are no more than 20% complete in rehousing our materials. Beyond that is selective copying of our holdings, to try to stay ahead of the curve of deterioration that we all are facing.
I might say that we do have a long way to go. I mentioned the 20%. There are varying estimates on the amount of copying that we have ahead of us even with the nitrate backlog behind us. That would generally put us into two generations, call it 60 years, call it 70 years or 75 years, and many of these materials just do not have that kind of life expectancy. We can certainly draw out the life expectancy using proper storage conditions, but the challenge is nonetheless there, and it is very large. This is despite the fact that we are currently duplicating materials at about 2 million feet per year.
In ways that the Board can help, we encourage the board to continue promoting cooperation and the exchange of information. And we urge you, as you go ahead and finish your study and produce your plan, to please consider record film, documentaries and newsreels as well as other non-fiction genres, as legitimate and significant parts of the film heritage.
We also ask your help in identifying practical standards and techniques for the preservation of film. We ask that you encourage research in film preservation and that you monitor and report on the status of new technologies. It may well be that electronic optical and digital magnetic media will be the salvation for the future, but at the present time most of us are afraid to take this chance for our preservation copies of our materials. It is excellent for dissemination, but film is still what we intend to rely on for some time to come for preservation. But we urge you to monitor and please report to us on the status of these new technologies. Thank you very much.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Mr. Bellardo. Susan Dalton from the National Center? Statement of Susan Dalton, Director, Preservation and Archival Projects, National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute
MS. DALTON: The Washington office of the National Center of the American Film Institute administers the AFI-NEA Film Preservation Grants Program and acquires films for the AFI Collection. Both of these programs continue the work which was begun by the AFI archives program, which was founded along with the institute in 1967.
At that time, there was no coordinated national effort to preserve our American film heritage. The three pioneering institutions, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art and the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, all had long- established preservation programs but faced major obstacles.
There was a vast number of endangered films which remained outside of archival collections. There was no systematic method to avoid duplication of efforts in preservation and, of course, there was a great need for funds in order to pay the enormous costs.
Rather than create another archive, the AFI negotiated a collaborative agreement with the Library of Congress and an archives advisory committee of leading archivists and film historians was appointed. This, by the way, is what eventually grew into what today is AMIA.
The archives program then began an energetic nationwide effort to locate and acquire nitrate films to be preserved in the public trust by the Library of Congress and designated as the AFI Collection. By the end of 1971, approximately 8000 films had been acquired from film companies, private collectors, state historical societies and public libraries. Over the years that the archive program matured, the nature and scope of the films acquired, as well as the number of cooperating archives naturally expanded.
To date, over 25,000 films, including original nitrate prints and negatives, 16mm reference prints and videotape copies have been acquired for preservation or reference use at over 17 archives in the United States, Canada and Europe. In the past six years alone, we have acquired material for over 3000 films, including over 1100 original 35mm prints or about 2 million feet of nitrate film.
We have recovered many films which were thought to be lost forever, among them Annie Laurie, a 1927 feature with Lillian Gish; The Romance of New Palestine, a 1918 documentary photographed by Yakov Ben-Dov, showing the rebirth of the Jewish homeland; and Wild Bill and Calamity Jane in the Days of '75 and '76, the first feature length film to be shot in South Dakota and Nebraska and made by a local film company in 1915.
The possibilities for discovering lost films continue unabated, although our needs to actually acquire them have somewhat diminished. In earlier years, funds were available to purchase nitrate collections or to provide donors with 16mm copies. This is no longer the case. We rely on public-spirited individuals to donate original materials. Our so-called acquisition funds are spent on shipping.
Most of the large nitrate film libraries owned by the film companies are now in archival hands, but a substantial, indeed astonishing, amount of nitrate remains in private hands. One of our larger acquisitions in recent years consisted of over 500 cans of nitrate which had been stored in a Michigan barn for over 50 years. Although the barn yielded many lost films which have since been preserved, over 100 of the cans contained film which had already disintegrated beyond hope of recovery. These were simply thrown out. We will never know what they were.
The mere existence of this much nitrate in one place indicates that we should seek for lost film much more vigorously. For example, the New Zealand Film Archive recently announced "The Last Film Search", a highly publicized national crusade to seek out New Zealand films, a campaign modelled on the amazingly successful drive undertaken by the Australian Film Archives several years ago. Why not have a similar campaign across America?
Another rich opportunity for acquiring lost films is recovering our patrimony from foreign countries with the assistance and cooperation of their archives. U.S. members of the International Federation of Film Archives have been exchanging films with foreign archives for many years, usually on a one-to-one or limited basis. In the last six years, the center repatriated over 450 American films through precedent-setting bulk exchanges with archives in New Zealand, Australia and the Netherlands. These 450 films are only a sample of what is still available in foreign archives. Virtually every film archive in Europe has hundreds of unpreserved American productions. All of these films are our patrimony and it is our responsibility to preserve them.
However, assuming we had the time, the staff and the budget to actively exploit these acquisition opportunities, the heart of the matter would still remain the capability of U.S. archives to receive, store, catalog and preserve even more film.
The Center's Washington office also administers the AFI-NEA film preservation grants program for which the National Endowment for the Arts has provided support since 1967. During the first few years, funds were provided directly to AFI and in turn to the Library of Congress for film acquisition and preservation.
In 1971, the Endowment awarded a separate grant of $265,000 for AFI to distribute as matching grants in a national preservation program. The NEA has continued their support to the present day. Since 1971, over $8 million has been distributed to archives across the country in support of a wide variety of film preservation projects. This has stimulated total preservation expenditures of over $16 million.
Program administration today proceeds in much the same manner as in the earliest years. We send out guidelines, receive and review applications, arrange the panel meetings, distribute the awards and provide advice and information to the actual potential grantees.
A particularly important part of our administration is the consolidation and distribution of information on films which have been preserved under the program as well as films which are proposed for preservation in any given year. This helps the archives to avoid duplication of efforts and to ensure that preservation masters are generated from unique or best-surviving materials.
AFI-NEA grants have supported the preservation of Hollywood features and shorts, local and regional films, independent avant-garde works, Yiddish-language films and historic dance performance footage, to mention only a few kinds of areas. While the program has always placed a strong emphasis on nitrate preservation, awards are made to preserve all types of films regardless of gauge or base.
In earlier years, grants were sometimes available for preparing inventories or cataloging records of film materials, but due to the limited funds available and the rising costs of preservation, panels in recent years determine awards solely on the basis of how much is needed for actual laboratory costs. The grants program does not fund equipment purchase, film purchase, the preservation of videotape or the transfer of film to videotape.
Over the last 15 years, the amount requested in grant applications was $15,488,000. During this same period, the amount distributed as grant awards totalled $5,842,000, less than 40% of the amount requested. It should also be noted that in the last seven years the amount available as grant funds has remained at about $350,000 per year, while the costs of preserving film have tripled over the last 20 years.
The Endowment's faithful support of film preservation has been a decisive factor in the survival of thousands of films, but it goes without saying that much, much more is needed. If one considers that archives hold over 100 million feet of unpreserved nitrate, and that it will cost a minimum of $2.00 per foot, the problem assumes rather staggering proportions.
I should also probably mention here that since I rather doubt anyone is going to write a check for that amount today that we do take donations in smaller amounts. [Laughter.] In fact, when you are running a program with this amount of money, when we received $450 last year in unsolicited, individual contributions, and it did make a difference. It made a difference of $450, and we greatly appreciated it.
Finally, I should like to point out that although I have been talking about nitrate here, neither I, nor the National Center, nor any of us, can afford to ignore the millions of feet of deteriorating acetate or color films, the independent, educational, anthropological, industrial and amateur films and the vast quantities of television newsfilm and entertainment programs.
All of these are important in forming our moving image heritage and must be protected and preserved.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Who will be speaking for the New York Public Library?
MS. NESTHUS: I will.
MR. TABB: You will be doing it.
MS. NESTHUS: Yes.
MR. TABB: Okay. Thank you. Go ahead. Statement of Marie Nesthus, Principal Librarian, Donnell Media Center, New York Public Library, accompanied by Mary Boone Bowling, Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, New York Public Library
MS. NESTHUS: Good afternoon. My name is Marie Nesthus. I am Head Librarian of Donnell Media Center of the New York Public Library. Joining me today is Mary Boone Bowling, who is Curator of Manuscripts at the Central Research Libraries. Our statement has been entered into the record in its entirety. We would like to simply highlight for you the library's major preservation issues.
The New York Public Library is one of many repositories whose primary mission is not the collection of motion pictures, but whose holdings contain significant film collections. A number of library units actively collect films. These include Donnell Media Center, the Theater on Film and Tape Archive of the Billy Rose Theater Collection, and the Dance Collection--both of those in the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center--the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division located in the landmark Central Research Library.
With the passage of time and the serious fluctuations within the independent or non-theatrical film industry, a great number of films have been lost. Some have simply been dropped from distribution; others have been lost completely with all distribution prints and laboratory printing materials destroyed or missing. The New York Public Library increasingly finds itself to be the owner of rare and in some instances unique materials.
The collection of 7000 films of Donnell Media Center began with a modest acquisition program in the 1950s. For nearly four decades, film specialists and librarians of Donnell have carefully selected films to add to that collection. In addition, the Media Center has a collection of nearly 7000 videotapes.
Throughout the years, the collection's focus has been on independent production of all varieties: documentaries, experimental film, independently produced feature film, children's film and animation. An important segment of film and cultural history can be found on Donnell's shelves. The fact that Donnell owns these materials increases their likelihood of survival.
In addition to Donnell Media Center, two divisions of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Theater on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) and the Dance Collection, contain extensive film holdings. TOFT is the world's foremost collection of films and videotapes of live theater performances. In 1970, they began to produce, collect and preserve visual records of Broadway, off-Broadway and regional theater, dialogues, lectures and seminars featuring theatrical personalities, a wide variety of theater-related programming, including film and television adaptations of productions. The major part of the archive consists of theater recorded during performance and includes most of the outstanding theater of the last two decades. Rare footage also includes film versions of theater classics featuring notables such as George Bernard Shaw, George M. Cohan, Mary Martin, and the home movies of Richard Rodgers and George Gershwin. Although TOFT's 2176 programs are made available on videocassette, the archive includes 132,000 feet of motion picture film in storage.
The Dance Collection contains over 9000 films and videotapes, 1000 added annually, which represent the first time in history that the art of dance has been systematically documented in motion. These are primary sources that form the background of virtually any serious research of twentieth-century dance. They provide current artists with inspiration and reference resources. Included in the dance collection are unique films documenting the early years of such major dance companies as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, the Joffrey Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As Jerome Robbins has stated, films and videotapes function as a Rosetta Stone for the art of dance.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is among the world's foremost institutions devoted to documenting, preserving and providing access to research resources on historical and cultural development of peoples of African descent throughout the world. Over the past two decades, the center's Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division has developed collections of audiovisual materials including musical disc, oral history recordings, 4000 videotapes, primarily public affairs television programs and television commercials, and a substantial collection of motion picture film. Although principal collecting efforts have been focused on documentaries, the Schomburg Center is also in the process of becoming a major repository of dramatic works created by independent black filmmakers.
The Schomburg Center has also developed a substantial collection of film outtakes, consisting of some four million feet of unedited documentary footage. In some instances, the collection of outtakes has focused on the preservation of the work of a major documentary filmmaker as in the case of veteran African American filmmaker William Greaves. In another instance, the collection of outtakes focused on preserving the raw footage of a specific film as in the case of the classic Jazz on a Summer's Day.
Since 1980, the Schomburg Center has regularly conducted videotaped oral history interviews and is currently documenting its public programs on broadcast quality videotape.
The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division holds approximately 300,000 feet of film that compose parts of the manuscript and archival collections. The bulk of these materials are 16mm color films, but there are also significant numbers of 35mm films and some 8mm films. The division also holds 159 videotapes in a number of different formats. The films date from the 1930s to the 1980s and document a wide variety of subjects related to twentieth-century American history. Among these materials is film footage of a 1932 disarmament march, a campaign film for Congressman Henry Wallace, a film documenting President Kennedy's visit to the site of the New York World's Fair, and film footage of a U.S. Senate baseball game held in the 1960s. Most of the films held by this division are unique.
The scope and subject matter of the films held by the various divisions of the New York Public Library and the procedures followed for preserving and providing access to them vary somewhat. Nevertheless we have common concerns regarding moving image preservation. Although collectively we hold many thousands of titles of released films, we are also preserving millions of feet of footage that would appear to fall outside the primary scope of concern of the National Film Preservation Board.
For this reason, we would urge the Board to concern itself not only with the preservation and restoration of individual released titles but also with collections that contain released films, unreleased films and raw footage. Unreleased titles and raw footage held in research institutions must be included in any plan designed to preserve the nation's film heritage. This footage when viewed by future generations will provide greater insights into the people and events of the past. This same footage will be that upon which future generations of documentary filmmakers will rely for their productions.
We recommend that the board expand upon that which is certain to be gained by this hearing process by initiating a national survey of institutions collecting and/or preserving motion picture film. Such an undertaking would finally provide some sense of the volume and scope of the nation's film repositories.
Before concluding, there is one area which is only briefly mentioned in the Board's mandate, but that we believe, at the very least, should be acknowledged by the Board as an area worthy of similar concern. That is the matter of videotape. As we acknowledge that both the documentation and the dramatization of our experiences that were once exclusively captured on film are increasingly being captured on videotape, we must also acknowledge that this even more physically fragile medium must be preserved if we are not to lose a substantial part of the history of the last two decades.
Finally, we would like to recommend that National Film Preservation Board create a structure to facilitate ongoing dialog among the various institutions whose comments were sought for this study and the Board. This structure might be modelled after such organizations as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, or the Commission on Preservation and Access, each of which works to conduct surveys, provide advice and implement plans.
It would be also useful to include representation on the Board from archives, museums and libraries that have significant moving image holdings but which are not members of the International Federation of Film Archives. There should also be representation from professional organizations such as the Society of American Archivists and the American Library Association.
The New York Public Library welcomes the passage of the National Film Preservation Act of 1992. We believe that all of the issues we have raised must be part of any national film preservation plan. Thank you very much.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Mr. Crafton for the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. Statement of Donald Crafton, Director, Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
MR. CRAFTON: One of the disadvantages of coming late in the afternoon is that remarks that would have seemed groundbreaking and visionary hours ago are now going to be redundant and pedantic, I am afraid. [Laughter.] But still there is one area that I do not think has been discussed very fully, and that is after preservation comes scholarly film access and study.
The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research has serviced scholars and students of television, theater and motion pictures for 35 years. In a nutshell, our holdings consist of over 300 collections of film, videotape, stills, manuscripts and papers from corporations and individuals.
To the archival community, we are best known for our largest film collection, the United Artists' donation, which includes prints of pre-1948 Warner Brothers, RKO and Monogram releases, plus associated scripts, publicity material, company records and other documents.
We do have other lesser known but significant materials. For example, 280 Soviet features and shorts produced between 1948 and 1975, and over 100 Hong Kong martial arts features. If you want Kung Fu, come to Madison. Many of these films are unique and unpreserved, and raise the whole other issue which I will not go into, the status of foreign films in American holdings, another kind of orphan.
We actively endorse the preservation policies of AMIA and FIAF, yet we are something of an anomaly among international archives. It is not part of our mission to preserve films, in the sense of caring for nitrate prints or supervising their transfer to safety stock. Our mission specifically is to facilitate education and public access by making our holdings available as freely as our resources and contractual restrictions will permit.
The point I would like the National Film Preservation Board to consider is this: Preservation also means assuring that films will have a permanent place in the intellectual domain. Indeed, I will go so far as to argue that a film is only truly preserved when it has been made available for examination and contemplation by viewers.
The history of the developing interest in early American cinema illustrates my point, and Tom Gunning expressed this very eloquently this morning so I can condense. The history of the Paper Print Collection, I think, is an excellent example of what I would call a user- driven preservation program. In its next phase, the implementation of this interactive video program and the Library of Congress' American Memory Project is another good example of the way in which the raw materials of film scholarship were transformed into something meaningful and useful by scholars and historians.
The lesson is that storing and salvage are only the first half of the preservation circle, a necessary but not sufficient state. The circle is completed, the film really reaches a state of preservation, when it enters the public sphere of reception, discussion and critical inquiry. Some films become part of our national memory, a memory canonized by the Board's selection process, for example. Other films will never make it to cable channels or video release but are nevertheless essential for a complete understanding of the history, theory and appreciation of the movies. This happens through traditional channels, teaching and publication.
For a moment I would like the members of the Board to imagine themselves as end- users of the films all of us here are trying to preserve. The buildings in which film prints are housed are probably barrier-free for physical entry, but are the collections inside barrier-free for research?
Let us construct a naive wish list that will enable us to proceed with our work with the least obstacles.
First, let us have ready access to a public database that will enable us to locate preserved prints quickly and accurately. The database should list identifying data, location and accessibility of holdings. It should be available in major libraries, as well as accessible through Internet or other public computer networks.
Let us hope that archives will have viewing prints available of all their holdings. We can leave our checkbooks at home, because there will be no screening fees. The friendly archivist gives us a choice of viewing format, video or the original medium and gauge.
The adequately funded and staffed archive has extended hours so that we may get our work done efficiently, working all day and even through lunch if we choose. Since it is open Saturdays, we can save on discount air fare, too. Since our analysis demands close study of films, we can start and stop the print without worrying about time constraints.
Our editor, publisher, or dissertation director insists on many illustrations and anyway, they are essential for making our point in the text. The archive allows us to make frame enlargements from the prints ourselves, or to utilize the archive's photographic service which does the work for us professionally and at a fair price. We can publish images from the film prints and reproductions of studio publicity stills without entangling red tape, exorbitant fees or fear of legal action.
We can disseminate our scholarship, knowing that others will have the same right of access that we did and augment our information with new findings, perhaps substantiating our work, perhaps challenging it and leading to debate. As Sam Cooke sang, "What a wonderful world it would be!"
These two days of hearings have shown that there are massive problems that preservers of American film heritage must overcome. But providing access to the preserved films by scholars and historians is another trial. Is the end-user's wish list just a pipe dream? Some of it perhaps but not all of it. There are concerns which can be address locally. AMIA provides a forum for discussion and implementation of archives' access policies. But some changes would require recommendations from the Board. Here are some specific actions that would lower the existing barriers to research:
Urge full funding of the National Moving Image Data Base. While detailed NAMID catalogue entries are not necessarily for most researchers, something analogous to a Union List of Serials derived from NAMID is essential for planning scholarly work. New copyrights should be entered into the NAMID automatically.
Recommend legislation that would clarify the status of frame enlargements and film stills. Stills that have not been individually copyrighted should be recognized as in the public domain. Frames and stills reproduced in scholarly journals or books, defined as a university associated press or an initial run of under 10,000 copies, should be considered fair use.
We should all plead with Congress to adequately fund its library so that your accessioning, cataloguing and reference printing can be expanded. Despite the goodwill of producers, responsibility for the care and protection of the public interest ultimately lies with Congress and not with voluntary activities of corporations.
Remove the ambiguity of print collecting by public institutions by making it legal to buy or accept for a donation or deposit prints of films 25 years after release provided they are used for educational and scholarly purposes only.
Draft model legislation that would restore the deductibility of charitable gifts of nitrate films to encourage donations of these materials to public institutions. Indeed, a tax credit might encourage more donations helping to move these vital materials from the private to the public sector.
Require copyright applicants to deposit an additional reference copy which after 25 years can be circulated to other designated institutions for noncommercial public screening and scholarship.
In my own experience as a researcher in the U.S., I have seen little of the antagonism between archivists and users which does exist in other countries. Our public and private archives are to be commended for their spirit as well as for their farsighted realization that preservation is in their own interest. There are some areas, though, that can be coordinated and improved only by a central agency with legislative authority and public funding. The Library of Congress and this Board are the best possible agents for this change.
To conclude, I urge you not to neglect the issue of scholarly access when you draft your national plan for preservation. An early film archivist wrote, "To write film history, one must first see the films." And, as Paul Spehr pointed out, this is only partially true. The films must be saved, but the images on them have little value until the film is seen by a receptive viewer. Only then is the film preserved.
MR. TABB: Thank you, Mr. Crafton. Dr. Billington, do you want to begin?
DR. BILLINGTON: Yes. I want to first of all congratulate this panel. I was thinking that every single institution here represented is one that, quite apart from my duties as the Librarian of Congress, I personally as a scholar have benefitted from so I have a particularly warm feeling towards the institutions represented, and the diversity of testimony they have given.
One point, something fell into place as I was hearing the last speaker speak. He spoke about the martial arts collection in Wisconsin, and I thought of the wisdom of the new administration picking its Secretary of Defense from that state. [Laughter.]
The question I wanted to ask is this one and it is mainly directed to Ms. Dalton. One of the interesting things about this testimony is that we hear that the number of films in existence is really much greater, and the places they are hidden really more numerous, than we had thought, and I gather that even people who follow this professionally, as I do not, had thought. And we are certainly learning on the Film Preservation Board about the variety of films, and we are hearing now of just loose footage, really, that are worthy of consideration even for the National Film Registry, and certainly important for the act of preservation. We have heard about home movies, different types of documentaries, different types of repositories. And yet is it not true--I am not sure to what extent it is true but I have the impression--that the program of actually aggressively acquiring films, which AFI instituted at the beginning for deposit within the Library of Congress, that the actual number that are being so acquired, and so deposited, has dwindled quite considerably in recent years.
I wonder (a) is that true? and (b) is there any possibility that that can be increased? Because if we think that not only is there more out there than we had thought, but it is also years later now, and it is all disintegrating quicker than we may realize. The combination of those two facts makes the preservation need look all the more urgent. Most of the 21,000 films that have come to us through the AFI were acquired some years ago, but is there any possibility of reactivating or increasing that acquisition effort? I do not know if it is the experience of the other archives, but I imagine that it is: that we may be in need of a second strike or second major effort in this. I would just be interested in your comments on this.
MS. DALTON: Well, I think that the days of acquiring 30 million feet in one year [are over]. The very large nitrate collections already are with the Library--Universal, Columbia, RKO, Hal Roach, some of those collections. I think you just scooped the last nitrate collection with the Disney acquisition, and that is fine.
As far as nitrate, we are not going to see it in such huge massive quantities any more, and that is in a way a good thing. And the other thing, since we do not keep anything ourselves, we are almost sometimes in a position of having to pre-place it before we ship it in and examine it and give it away, because there are the archives--where the storage situation as far as nitrate is concerned is crucial. People are getting very selective. And it is true that we now know today what we did not know 20 years ago. We pretty much know what we have.
When I first arrived with the Center, there were a couple of slipups. There was a card misfiled; we gave a film to the Museum of Modern Art only to find that the Library had copied it 15 years before. We can now discover these things, so that institutions are not either repeating their own work or somebody else's. We are finding film quite often that we get very excited about and discover it is a second, third or fourth copy. Now, this is not necessarily to say we would not accept it, because an archive, to do a really a bang- up job on preservation, should compare all of the copies available before it produces the master.
The second part of major acquisitions in the millions of feet is the post-nitrate era. And I do think that many people in the archival world and in this country have tended to rely or somehow feel safer because of the Library's ability to accept copyright deposit. I think it was 1956 when LC really started collecting actively again.
So I think there is some sort of generally held impression that people do not want to look into too closely that, well, the Library probably has it. But the Library really does not have preprint on those films; I just really do not know whether the archives would want or could accept this sort of thing. I mean, since AFI does not keep anything, it is not really my problem; I do not want to go out and acquire things or negotiate exchanges or donations or anything that will end up on my floor because it is not doing anybody any good there.
DR. BILLINGTON: Have we refused any that have "ended up on your floor?"
MS. DALTON: Well, not nitrate. It sits in your vault in Suitland. But, yes. All of the archives have refused things that we have had on offer, in particular if it is nitrate. If the vault is full, it is full.
DR. BILLINGTON: I could see how the first flush of some large troves to be found would pass very rapidly, but do you feel that your organization is pursuing films with the same intensity and industry that it was at the beginning of the search for these films?
MS. DALTON: No, because we do not have the budget. We are two-and-a-half people. We run the grants program. We have been doing a lot of data entry, trying to figure out exactly what we have, who converted it, and if they [indeed] did it.
DR. BILLINGTON: But you have on your board practically everybody who is anybody in Hollywood. Can they not help you?
MS. DALTON: Well, I mean, it comes down ultimately to a question of who is going to drive the van to pick up the nitrate, pack it and ship it. I mean, we could put on another very large publicity campaign like the Lost Film Search in New Zealand. But there is ultimately the problem of whether the Library or any other archive in this country has room to accept it and is willing to accept it. If that is true, then we will go for it. How much more do you want? I will go get it.
MR. FRANCIS: Well, I think from what we have heard today, we have got to start concentrating on the period after 1951. There is no doubt about it because there is some very important material there.
I think the thing that always worries you is that, if you have not coped with the existing problems, you are not willing to take on a whole lot of new problems that you felt, until a few years ago, were problems that could wait.
I think the other thing that has come out in these hearings is that we cannot wait. So my feeling in answer to that question is simple. We should be going out now and actively acquiring safety film. If you can do that, I think we would be saying yes. We may be storing it on our floor, rather than somebody else's floor, but we should say yes, because we must consider whether we want it first and where we put it second.
MR. TABB: Milt?
MR. SHEFTER: The issue of information and database and surveys keeps coming up. I would like to address that question to Ms. Nesthus, although I would invite the rest of the panel to join in on the answer. We have heard some mixed commentary today. We have heard some questions about the NAMID database and yet that is the one most referred to. We have heard that some people will call Ms. Dalton's office to get information because they cannot get it out of the databank in Los Angeles. We have heard from Mr. Prelinger, who did a large database collection for his publication, that a lot of the information was invalid.
Our role is to submit to Congress a report on the present state of preservation. You also in your statement to us have asked us to call for initiating a national survey of all the institutions, collections, so on and so forth. How would you recommend we go about this?
MS. NESTHUS: Well, there is a problem, I think, and the problem exists within the New York Public Library as much as it does outside. We at Donnell have all of our holdings catalogued on a database which I think fairly soon will be loaded into the OCLC database. Ms. Bowling, I think, could tell you more about the research side on the databases that are kept there.
MS. BOWLING: I can tell you lots, but I think that you have hit on the hard problem. One of the things that we would very much like to see come out of this process is a greater amount of attention turned to the problem of the absence of standards, and many different kinds of standards have been mentioned here today, technical preservation standards and so forth. But one area of concern is the current lack of agreement on descriptive standards and what should be done about that.
Of course, nothing can be separated from money. Doing item level database entries would perhaps be ideal but very few of us, particularly at the New York Public Library, feel that we have that capability. So in terms of our reporting to any kind of national database on the research side, which is where I come from, we report to RLIN, the Research Libraries Information Network.
We have used even within a single division a variety of descriptive tools for different purposes, sometimes they mesh, sometimes they do not. I think that the Board would do us all a great favor by maybe appointing a task force to study the ways in which national standards can be arrived at.
MR. TABB: John?
MR. BELTON: Yes. Professor Crafton, in talking about access in archives, I was wondering whether you were speaking as an archivist? Whether you have presented your Utopian situation to the AMIA? Whether archivists within FIAF or AMIA have actually talked about some sort of policy for providing access for users?
MR. CRAFTON: The agenda of the AMIA is frequently dominated by questions of policy and definition, so things are moving in that direction. My center is represented by Maxine Fleckner Ducey, one of, I think, the premier archivists in the country, who is also on the standards committee of AMIA, and is very articulate. She has everyday, hands-on working experience dealing with cataloging and everything.
We also are a NAMID institution doing data entry on a couple of our collections, so it is an everyday thing.
My remarks were made both as an archivist and as a researcher. And I think that many of the people speaking here wear at least two hats, maybe more. Several are educators as well.
There was a time when it was necessary to draw that distinction, but I do not think that the antagonism between archives and researchers exists as it did once. Most of the skirmishes now have to do with things like a scholar wanting to look at something on 35mm and can only see it on video, not because a reference print does not exist, but because the work study student to go get the reference print does not exist. It is that sort of a funding crisis.
I think that the United States archives really lead the world's archives in providing access to this material, and I think it is no coincidence that the most dynamic film history right now is being written by American scholars. The most dynamic film history of other countries' film industries, I think, is also being written by American scholars for the most part. And it is because of a very good working relationship between archives and researchers. So I was not trying to paint a particularly bleak situation in terms of ideology, as much as just general funding and access.
MR. TABB: Fay?
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: I think you mentioned that frame enlargements were valuable to your study. How damaging are they to the prints, and then how do you balance the value of the frame enlargement against the damage to the print?
MR. CRAFTON: It should only be done with a reference or exhibition print. It should obviously never be used with archival material. But most of the archives do not allow unique preservation masters to be screened, even on a Steenbeck viewer, even under supervision. So if the frame enlarging is done with a reasonable amount of care, then it does not damage the film at all.
Alternatively, if this was a concern of an archive, one could, as is done some places, mark the frame in some non-intrusive form, and then have a technician do it. Of course, it is more expensive for the researcher that way but it can be done.
MR. FRANCIS: I wanted to ask a question to Mr. Bellardo. We are very envious of what we hear about your Archives II, though I am not quite sure what facilities you have. As you had already completed your nitrate duplication before you designed Archives II, does that mean you have taken special consideration of the new problems such as vinegar syndrome, color fading and these sort of things in your new facility? And, if you have, is there going to be any spare capacity in that facility, and any way in which other institutions would be able to take advantage of it?
MR. BELLARDO: That is a good question, and I am not sure I have a complete answer for you at this point because it fundamentally is a budgetary question relating to staffing for the laboratories and relating to the final equipment buy which we are at present doing. In fact, on Monday, I am in a horse-trading session in which priorities of equipment across the agency for the building and the final major purchases will be made.
But in answer to the first question, the problems with vinegar syndrome in particular were foremost in our minds. As you know, a part of our solution to our nitrate problem was not of our own choosing. We had a couple of pretty catastrophic fires a number of years ago, and then proceeded quickly to duplicate the remainder of our holdings. But the cellulose acetate film is deteriorating. We can slow the process down with the proper storage, but in the purchasing of equipment and also in terms of developing work plans, that was foremost in our minds.
MR. TABB: David, one more question.
MR. FRANCIS: I have one more question I want to ask Donald Crafton. I understand that there is a network, a distribution network, between your university and ten others, which works on a sort of semicommercial basis where rights are paid. I wonder whether you could tell us something about it. Is it a model that could be expanded to allow for a wider distribution of films preserved in archives.
MR. CRAFTON: Certainly. It is an organization called the CIC, which means the Committee for Intercollegiate Cooperation, and it was established by the Big Ten universities. One of the things that it does is operate a film library and purchases public domain film prints outright, if they are available. It also leases prints from the studios or the non-theatrical distributors, whoever has the rights. It also purchases films outright from independent filmmakers, for example. Then the members can rent these films for classroom use only for a very modest rental fee. It has been working for, I believe, 15 years.
I think it would be a model to pursue because it, first of all, would appeal to distributors because it is a steady stream of income. They do not have to do anything. They do not send any bills. They just provide one print which they are remunerated for, and they collect checks. Something like that I think certainly could be instituted on a national model with an organization like the Library of Congress or expanding on the Museum of Modern Art's distribution program. The idea basically would be that the studios would receive modest royalties in exchange for letting these films go out.
The big drawback, I would say, to a plan like this is not with the studios but with the non-theatrical distributors. In my experience, the studios have been quite willing to come forward and offer plans for getting their materials out there, getting them seen. But very often it is their contracts with the companies who distribute the films to classrooms that stand in the way. One very large company, for example, has many of the classic Hollywood films tied up under non-theatrical contracts, and yet does not have prints of the films available. When the films are used and worn out, they are discarded, and they do not invest in having new materials made. So if you call up and ask for that film, [they say]: Yes, they have the rights; no, they do not have a print for you. And in our situation, we are in a peculiar area because we have many of these films in our own archive, but we do not have a non-theatrical license. So we can use these films in our own classroom, from our own collection, if we call up the distributor and negotiate a license fee to pay them.
MR. TABB: Dr. Billington?
DR. BILLINGTON: I speak with some trepidation but I rise to the comment of Mr. Crafton about the best work in the field of film study being done in America. I think it is in the sense that there is a body of people that is dedicated to this and the level has been going steadily up, and it is a very high level. But in terms of the engagement of the best critical minds of the culture, I think we are weaker than many countries. That is a different problem, but it is relevant to our problem here, because it is a question of attracting general interest in the intellectual importance and seriousness of film outside of a guild of people who do it professionally.
If we had had someone of the stature of Erwin Panovsky writing more than just that one article on the film, or if we had something like the intellectual caliber and incredible range of Lotman and Ivanov and people like that in Russia writing serious things on the film, or if we had a culture of criticism analogous to either that around the festivals in Latvia or the festivals in Tbilisi and the Caucasus where people like Parajanov used to be active, we would have a greater credibility for an important purpose of the creation of the National Film Preservation Board, which is the establishment of film as a major factor in the culture, not just an object of entertainment, which also should be studied historically.
And that is a slightly different phenomenon but is a threshold we have not crossed in this society, and it hurts us when we try to establish a deep reason for the cultural importance of having this material. It is not simply as a documentary record of how people ran about and consulted each other at a given stage in our history. Nor is it just a technical question of how things were or how montage was handled at different stages.
No country has done more to create that cultural importance than the United States, probably as much as all the other countries put together, but we have not absorbed it and suggested it. And I think that an important part of establishing the rationale for preservation is to get more of the great minds of this country realizing what is happening, what we are doing to ourselves, how we are changing the way we educate our children.
Until we get the great minds of the country studying this subject, which we are not doing--I mean, you have a great physicist like Rauschenbach in Russia now studying the film. And you have Ivanov, who in my view has written the most blazing single sustained study of filmmakers, at UCLA right now; he is in this country. These people migrate to this country, because this is where it ought to be happening. They could all end up emigrating here, and we will not have to manufacture it ourselves.
But I cannot help but think with all the intelligence and the intensity there is about this problem, that we can lift this whole thing to a higher level of intensity of consciousness than it is in the general culture of the country. As it is now, it is never in the front section of the newspaper, it is always in the kind of style, modern living accoutrements [section], somewhere between food and real estate. [Laughter.]
MR. CRAFTON: Well, I certainly agree with you, and I think I can sound one small note of hope. That is that the people we see coming into our archives--and I am sure the others have the same experience--are very often now graduate students working on dissertations and not just [from] very disparate fields of the humanities but also the social sciences. No physicists have come to visit us in Madison, as far as I know, but the doors are always open. I think that when these people go out into the community and carve their own niche, have their own career, that certainly film will be an important part of their work.
On a similar vein, I would like to respond to something that Mr. O'Doherty said today about "serving the public or die," which I think relates to this. The public really does consist of everyone, students, literate consumers of culture, but also the people who are responsible for creating this sense of an intellectual environment that I think you are referring to. Those people are part of our public, too. Certainly the people who watch American Movie Classics are an important part of our public, but the public is a very broad and amorphous institution. There is a risk of creating an impression of some film mandarins out there who do nothing but study very arcane aspects of the way films are put together and operate. Those people do exist, but I think that they are a very small part of the whole community of film users.
MR. TABB: I think we need to bring this panel to close. We will take a ten-minute recess. We will start in again at four o'clock.
[A brief recess was taken.]
MR. TABB: I understand that Dr. Masson is going to go first because you have a video? Is this correct?
DR. MASSON: I have slides. Could I ask for you to swing around so you can see the screen? May I start?
MR. TABB: Yes, please. Statement of Dr. Alan Masson, Director, Product Programs, Motion Picture and Television Imaging, Eastman Kodak
DR. MASSON: As one of the world's leading manufacturers of film products, Eastman Kodak Company plays an active role in the fight to preserve America's motion picture heritage. Today, I want to outline briefly how we pursue that struggle and some of what we have learned from it.
For us, the fight is centered in our research labs where much work is devoted to the issues surrounding image stability. We share our results in articles published in a variety of technical journals and in presentations to preservation organizations such as AMIA and FIAF.
We support these organizations and also help fund the work of several independent labs, including the Image Permanence Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology and the Manchester Polytechnic Institute in the U.K. And we maintain extensive personal contact with film archives, vaults, studios and preservation professionals around the world.
To give us our own practical experience in archiving, and to offer the industry an additional film storage site, we are currently building a film preservation area in our new Hollywood facility. Temperature, humidity and other storage conditions will, of course, follow NAPM/ANSI standards and recommendations.
I say "of course" because we work very closely with NAPM/ANSI, SMPTE, IS&T and other groups to develop these standards and recommendations. These recommendations come from work on the two major chemical issues in film preservation: the stability of the dyes in color films and the stability of the film support material.
The fading color dyes is a result of chemical reactions that occur within the film at all times, even when the film is stored in a can in the dark. We have learned a great deal about these reactions. We know, for example, that higher temperatures and humidities accelerate them.
We use this knowledge to develop accelerated aging tests, tests that simulate long-term storage and predict the life-expectancy of a film image. And we use these predictions, or Arrhenius data, to establish storage recommendations which stress strict temperature and humidity limits.
But dye stability is only one of the criteria a film designer must consider. Others include grain, sharpness, color reproduction and cost. These criteria often conflict and must be prioritized based on the film's intended use.
For example, 35mm color print film is primarily intended for use in theatrical release prints. Usually a large number of prints are produced at the same time and circulate from theater screen to screen, and after a relatively short time are destroyed or recycled. In other words, color print films are not intended to be a medium for long-term storage.
The most effective way to preserve color films is to make black-and-white separation masters and, in fact, we are currently trade testing a new generation of separation film. However, we recognize that other preprint material such as original negatives and color intermediates from which master positives and duplicate negatives are made, as well as actual prints, are often held for long-term storage.
Just last year, we introduced a new color intermediate film with greatly improved dye stability, and a few years ago we introduced a low-fade color print film with dye stability of more than 100 years when properly stored.
Let me turn now from dye stability to the stability of the film support. As you know, from 1890 to 1949, cellulose nitrate was the standard support for 35mm film. In 1949, we introduced cellulose triacetate or safety base 35mm film, nonflammable and more resistant to decomposition. By 1951, we ceased manufacturing nitrate film, as acetate base had become the world standard.
But when polyester was invented in the mid-1950s, we began investigating its use as a film support material. We found that it has many physical and chemical properties that can help a film meet long-term storage requirements. In 1955, we manufactured our first film on polyester base.
Today, we manufacture film on both acetate and polyester base. Each has applications for which it is particularly well suited. Because of its dimensional and chemical stability, polyester base is ideal for long-term storage.
We especially recommend the polyester versions of the black-and-white films we have designed, specifically for preservation and restoration work. These include intermediate films used for making interpositives and duplicate negatives from nitrate originals and, of course, the film used for making black-and-white separations.
However, a great deal of material is currently stored on acetate base film. A few years ago we all became aware of the previously unrecognized threat of acetate decomposition often called the "vinegar syndrome."
Cellulose triacetate results from a chemical reaction between cellulose and acetic acid. Acetate decomposition, or deacetylation is the reverse reaction: the acetate ion reacts with moisture to form acetic acid. The acid produces the characteristic vinegar odor. Excessive moisture and acetic acid are the prime catalysts for this reaction and since the reaction itself produces acid, it is autocatalytic. That means once it begins, it really cannot be stopped.
Furthermore, when the film is stored in closed containers, the acetic acid cannot escape and hastens the fading of the color dyes.
Last December, at the AMIA conference in San Francisco, my colleague Dr. Ram spoke about using molecular sieves as a potential weapon against vinegar syndrome. Molecular sieves are crystals that absorb molecules of various substances. Unlike other absorbants, they can choose what they absorb. Each type of molecular sieve allows only certain size molecules to be absorbed.
Our studies involved crystals that absorb, among other compounds, water and acetic acid. Accelerated aging tests suggest that packing them in the container used to store film can extend the life of the film far beyond what is now considered normal. By absorbing the moisture and acetic acid from the containers, the molecular sieves effectively deter the vinegar syndrome's effects.
Our attitude to these experimental results is similar to that of drug companies in the midst of developing a new remedy: We need further research to make sure there are no harmful side effects. In addition to continuing work in our own labs, we are about to begin trade trials of molecular sieves with a number of customers, including several of the organizations represented here today, incidentally.
We think it is an extremely promising technology, but the industry will be its final judge. If molecular sieves are used in the future, it will be in combination with the current storage recommendations. These recommendations with their strict temperature and humidity limits remain the most effective weapons we have against both dye fading and base decomposition.
However, you may have seen some press releases about an electronic technology Kodak is pursuing that has potential to restore faded, scratched and physically damaged film. It involves digitizing film material so that it can be electronically manipulated then transferred back to film with no loss in photographic resolution or color reproduction.
Once a film is digitized, scratches and other damage could be repaired. Missing image data such as parts of frames lost to decomposition, could be copied from an undamaged frame to produce a restored image. The results could then be recorded onto a high-resolution intermediate film from which new prints could be made.
Currently, this technology is relatively expensive to use; it uses very powerful computing. But we do expect a steady reduction in its cost over the next few years will make it more practical in the future.
If ever there were a good fight, it is the fight to preserve the art of the motion picture. Kodak is proud to be part of that fight, and plans to continues its research to help preserve the films of yesterday, and make the films of tomorrow even better. Thank you very much.
MR. TABB: Just a moment here while we get settled and get the panel. Mr. Murphy, you are next. It is good to see you again. Statement of Philip E. Murphy, Vice President, Operations, Television Group, Paramount Pictures
MR. MURPHY: Thank you. I appreciate the invitation to do double duty, so to speak, on both of those.
Dr. Billington earlier today reminded me indirectly that there are four people between myself and Martin Davis, the Chairman of the Board of Paramount Communications. Rest assured that our most senior management have stated that they want Paramount to be involved with the efforts of the film preservation activities of the Library of Congress. I assure you that I am speaking on behalf of our corporation.
I have been selected to represent Paramount as the person probably the most familiar with the actual intricacies of what we are doing in our asset protection program, as well as what our philosophies are about it.
Based on some of the remarks and conversations of earlier today, the presentations, I called and checked and got an okay to say some things that typically we are very protective about releasing to the public, basically some of our expenditures. But I think it really does have pertinence to the committee's familiarity with what, in fact, we are doing.
The archive building that we constructed on the lot several years ago, which is the environmentally controlled temperature and humidity facility, cost us almost $11 million to build. The electricity bill alone for that facility is several hundred thousand dollars a year. That is in order to maintain conditions that appear to be, from what I can gather, better than most other archives are able to offer.
We have spent over $35 million in the last five years on the inspection of all of our negatives, all of our YCMs, all of our audio, doing repair work, making new material when we determined that that was required. So we have made a phenomenal investment in asset protection.
This morning, George Stevens, Jr. mentioned--and I bring this in because it perhaps supports the issue about communications, where we all need to communicate with each other better, he mentioned [something] that made me squirm certainly--the fact that Paramount, on one of the four Paramount titles that are listed on the Film Registry, had lost the original negative to A Place in the Sun. Needless to say, I ran back to the phone and got some of my people looking into this situation. I must admit with all of the titles that we deal with, I do not commit to memory everything that we have on every title.
What it comes down to is a matter of communications once again. I did review some of the information and the correspondence that some time back Mr. Stevens and his organization had had with not only Paramount's public relations area, but some other public institutions about that title. It was a 1951 film, the original negative being on nitrate. That negative was moved from our Los Angeles vault in 1966 to a nitrate vault in New York, where it subsequently destroyed itself. So the semantics of the word "lost" here--and I am not going to say that any studio has a perfect track record all throughout history--but in this particular instance, lost means the nitrate went away. We have three pages worth of computer inventory on all of the safety internegatives that we have on that title. The Library will be receiving a pristine print struck from one of those negatives as soon as Eric and our people do lunch. [Laughter.] They have been doing a lot of lunches.
There was another issue on that. We have been as cooperative as we possibly can be. I think what he was referring to was, frankly, a screening. We loan prints for screening; we loan studio prints to people to screen all the time. He had asked for a print some time back on that title to use at a screening. Yes, the studio print. Most of our studio prints are rather beat up, simply because they are used for reference material, and put in a projector in a screening room: start, stop, run backwards, forward. I mean, that is what they are there for. That particular screening utilized that studio print and, yes, it looked like a studio print. That has nothing to do with the condition that the material is in. We do not manufacture a $5000 new release print every time somebody wants to have a screening.
That title, by the way, came out on laserdisc in 1991 with a separate track. Fay, you had mentioned earlier about the laserdisc's separate track ability, the M&E track is carried separately on laserdisc release from 1991. The audio pop that he made reference to is in every optical track that exists. The magnetic M&E tracks do not have any audio pops in them.
At any rate, I think it is a matter of communication as to some of the semantics involved, but it does lead to the point again about the need to communicate and not make assumptions. David and I were talking earlier about we need to talk to each other.
MR. CHASMAN: It should be entered in the record that the nitrate negative of A Place in the Sun was decomposed. It was not mislaid.
MR. MURPHY: Thank you. Persons who tour our archive facility on the lot in Los Angeles frequently wonder why we continue to save film material after we transfer the image onto videotape. And, Dr. Billington, please read my remarks later.
The process of converting film material into electronic material involves both scanning the source material and storing the results of that scan. It is important to remember that film has a much higher image resolution than a conventional television system. Over the past 15 years, the conventional technology available for scanning or transferring film onto videotape has advanced by quantum leaps. Both the scanning process and the storage process has moved from analog to digital. But even today's conventional digital resolution falls short of film's resolution. The next generation is high definition television but even HDTV will not meet the high resolution found in the film source material.
To illustrate the facts upon which our philosophy is based as to why we hang onto the film material, we have prepared an in-house presentation. These points having been made in this presentation, it appeared very appropriate to many people that we include them in the record of this hearing. I will play the tape.
VIDEOTAPE: Question: Why save the 35mm elements of a film when one can simply convert these elements to the less costly, less cumbersome format of videotape? Answer: Please watch.
Motion pictures. They have profound impact on us all. As well as serving as a major form of entertainment, movies have shaped our hopes, culture, politics, visions of the past and dreams of the future.
The magic, the laughter, the excitement and the power of the movies have been captured on 35mm film, the universally accepted film format. The beauty, richness and the detail of 35mm film cannot be matched by any other media. Therefore, when the 35mm picture is transferred to video, most of this quality is lost.
To illustrate the quality difference between the 35mm film picture and the video picture, we will compare these two images by the two most common gauges of picture quality. First, by horizontal resolution, and second by the more high-tech world of computer pixels. Pixels are the smallest individual portion of the recorded image.
The higher the horizontal resolution and the higher the pixel count, the clearer and sharper the image. With the clearest, sharpest picture in wide use today, 35mm film contains the equivalent of 2000 lines of resolution and roughly five million pixels.
Now let us take a look at how the quality of the video picture measures up to the quality of the 35mm film picture.
Before 1987, the state-of-the-art TV image contained 330 lines of resolution and 340,000 pixels. With the recent improvements of digital technology, today's digital television image has a picture capacity of 480 lines of resolution and nearly 720,000 pixels.
Looking to the future, the new high definition television picture will give us an image comprised of 750 lines of resolution and approximately 2.4 million pixels. But with all of technology's advances, the HDTV image of the future will provide a picture will less than half of the resolution and half of the pixels of the 35mm image.
So are we ready to entrust our 35mm negatives to today's video technology? Not! That is right. Because as the electronic media continues to improve the quality of the transfer, the 35mm picture will keep getting better.
Let us take a look at how the film transfers of yesterday hold up to film transferred on today's video technology. This version of Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments was recorded on tape in 1982 using then state-of-the-art video technology. Compare the old transfer to the 1992 digitally remastered version of this film. Notice the improvements that ten years of technology have accomplished. But remember with all of this improvement you are still seeing only 25% of the quality that is stored on the original 35mm film.
Let us take another journey. This program was once thought to have little value; discarded by the network, it created a life of its own in syndication. The images you are seeing now were mastered to video in the early eighties. This is what t whatever future electronic distribution system is devised.
MR. TABB: Thank you, again, Mr. Murphy, for being willing to appear at both of our hearings as well as for speedily responding to some of the issues raised this morning. I think that did help on our communications, and we appreciate it very much.
Mr. Reilly? Statement of James M. Reilly, Director, Image Permanence Institute
MR. REILLY: Thank you. I do not have any slides or any tapes. I have to go back to the written and spoken word, I am afraid.
Let me begin just by saying a little bit about the Image Permanence Institute, the organization that I represent. We are located at Rochester Institute of Technology and we are an academic research lab sponsored by the Society for Imaging Science and Technology. Our mission is to develop technology for the preservation of imaging media. We have a staff of nine people and we have a pretty nice laboratory for what you might call accelerated aging studies.
What we try to do is identify the big problems that occur in preservation of imaging media such as silver image degradation, color dye fading, storage enclosure issues, and in particular the problem of nitrate and acetate base degradation. We think what we can do to improve these situations with further research, get some ideas, and we seek grants from NEH, NHPRC, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and also sometimes do work under contracts. We are working right now on a contract for motion picture enclosures for the Library of Congress.
Hopefully the results of the research we do will end up being things like strategic information about the storage environment (information that people could use for preservation), new tests methods and new technical standards that I think were mentioned several times today.
In my remarks, I notice I was put under the category today of "technical issues" but in my mind at least my category should be the intersection of the laws of nature, the laws of finance and preservation policy. So that is what I am going to talk about, dollars and cents and the bottom line.
The Webster's Collegiate Dictionary definition of preserve includes the phrase "to keep intact, specifically, to keep from decaying". From my perspective as a scientist who studies the processes of decay in photographic films, one of the main issues confronting American film preservation policy is a preoccupation with duplication/restoration of a few films, at the expense of the survival of the entire rest of the corpus. I do not mean by this to criticize the mandate to identify 25 nationally significant films each year, but rather to call into question the commonly accepted definition of preservation in the cinema world as the act of copying films from unstable nitrate and acetate base.
Except for human negligence, physical wear-and-tear, and actual physical loss, the causes of deterioration in film are rooted in the very nature of the materials of which it is made: cellulosic plastics, nitrate and acetate, color dyes and silver. We need preservation primarily because dyes fade and because acetate and nitrate plastics decompose. These are chemical deterioration processes about which we now know the key facts. Most importantly, we can control the major forms of chemical deterioration through improved regulation of the storage environment.
If we wish to mount a meaningful effort to preserve films, we must do a better job of addressing these root causes and stop devoting so many resources to correcting the symptoms.
The technical facts are plain in these matters. Nitrate and acetate plastic films will chemically decompose at room temperature at a rate which, in archival terms, is unacceptably rapid and which will lead to massive unbearable costs if we try to keep up with it strictly and only through a policy of duplication.
I have attached to the written remarks two graphs which resulted from research at the Image Permanence Institute. And I am not going to explain any graphs today, so we can rest easy about that.
The studies were funded by NEH, by NHPRC, Kodak and, in the case of the color data, by the Commission on Preservation and Access and the J. Paul Getty Trust. One of them shows approximately how many years are required at different temperatures and RHs for the onset of acetate degradation, the so-called vinegar syndrome. The other shows how long it would take for significant color dye fading to occur in a contemporary color internegative motion picture film, and we do not yet know as much as we need to, I might add, about the humidity dependence of color dye fading.
In any case, I will not explain these graphs but let me summarize their content.
Basically we are forgetting the fundamentals and are not using the technical facts to our advantage. For as grim as the predictions are about the survival of films at room temperature, they offer impressive, even astonishing, life expectancies at lower temperatures and lower humidities. The chemical processes of decay, including those in film already quite advanced along the path of deterioration, can be slowed to a tremendous extent.
The archetypal problem in film preservation has been chemical decomposition of nitrate and the way the nitrate problem has been managed--through duplication-- unfortunately serves as the paradigm for dealing with today's even more threatening menaces, cellulose acetate degradation and dye fading.
We have learned to regard such deterioration as inevitable, which it is not. Many hundreds of years of service are possible through lowered temperature and lower humidity storage.
In the absence of good storage, nearly every film in archival collections is a potential victim to one of these forms of chemical deterioration. Even the most casual glance at Figures 1 and 2 will show that at room temperature, you have about 40 years or so before vinegar syndrome begins and before color dye fading to a serious extent begins. That is what they say in essence.
Figures 1 and 2, when joined together with the fact that a single feature film can cost $40,000 to preserve by duplication, will lead to the inescapable conclusion that for reasons of cost, preservation policies should emphasize prevention of decay rather than remediation of it.
Improved storage is much more cost effective than living with room temperature storage and attempting to keep up with advancing decay through duplication. It preserves the film in original form. If we have improved storage and are comfortable that the chemical processes of decay are safely slowed down to minimal rates, we then have the freedom to concentrate on film restoration, rather than a body count of numbers of feet transferred to save it from advancing ruin.
Better storage can give us many years in which to go forward with activities which will make our film heritage more accessible to scholars and the general public.
A formidable barrier to implementation of better storage (and I think you [i.e. Mr. Murphy] just mentioned the figures, which were a little sticker shock) a formidable barrier to implementation--do not assume that every good storage facility is going to cost $11 million--is the high initial cost of facilities.
This is where a national preservation policy can be immensely useful, creating funding mechanisms that at least make it easier to amortize and reallocate existing resources towards storage upgrade.
The Library of Congress, as well as many other institutions, deserves help with upgrading its storage facilities as part of a coordinated national preservation program. This institution has made a lot of progress. I just got a tour last week of their nice, new cold storage vaults. But there are still lots of films left to go.
Ten years ago or even five years ago the technical data of which I am speaking today did not exist to support the conclusions that I present. Now that we know with some assurance how much the life of collections can be extended by improved storage, we ought to act on that knowledge. It is by far the cheapest and most broadly cost-effective policy decision that we can make. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Milt?
MR. SHEFTER: Thank you. I did not react to Mr. Murphy's figure as being sticker shock because for four years I was responsible for spending that money, and I assure you that those figures were justified for, as you put it, the prevention of decay because we analyzed what it would cost to replace the material that we were preserving.
Which brings us to the question I would like to ask Alan, and this is not really directed at you or at Kodak, but I would like you as a film chemist to speak on behalf of the film manufacturers. As a preservationist with hands-on experience, as most of the people in this room are, we have lived through the nitrate deterioration which by Kodak's own publications starts immediately after manufacture. We have now started to live through the vinegar syndrome of acetate. In the separations that you advise and we all agree to for preservation, we find shrunken stock. Dyes, as Jim Reilly has just pointed out, fade. Can we really count on film as an archival medium with a long-term life expectancy in a national preservation plan?
DR. MASSON: Well, it is always a matter of degree. The stability of polyester film is many orders of magnitude greater than that of cellulose triacetate. Provided the correct storage conditions are supplied, we would strongly recommend continuing to use film.
MR. BELTON: Mr. Reilly, I was wondering, your description of storage conditions, what effect would storage conditions have on films that had already begun to deteriorate that were nitrate, or if the color were fading? Would they also give us a breathing space in which to raise funds to preserve them? Or would they continue to fade?
MR. REILLY: Absolutely yes. Everything we know about the base degradation process and the dye fading process as well says that you can really slow it down by low temperature. And certainly there are a few nitrate films which are just ever so close to total destruction that you would not get much time. But for the majority of nitrate or acetate that you can identify as already deteriorated, the answer is very simply, unequivocally, low temperature can buy you a lot of time. A lot.
MR. BELTON: Any ideas to wait for some ultimate transfer of materials?
MR. REILLY: Whatever choices that are there, yes. Either conventional duplication or electronic transfer or anything. That is the beauty of it. It really does slow it down. The same numbers that look so grim at room temperature look very favorable at low temperature. By studying the same chemical processes, and using the same predictive tools we use to do accelerated aging, we see across a whole range of temperatures what is going to happen. Although for various technical reasons, when film is really into the later stages of deterioration, our accelerated aging predictions [do] not really apply because you are into an autocatalytic behavior.
But in the early stages, when it is still primarily thermally dependent, at that point, the prolonging of life for already degrading materials that you can buy through better storage is very impressive.
MR. BELTON: But the costs we are talking about are significant, in terms of funding that is available for public archives in particular.
MR. REILLY: They are, but when you figure that duplication costs are going to go up--it is true that better storage has high initial capital cost and also operating costs are going to probably rise a little, too. But they quickly run away from each other. The costs of duplication or transfer to any medium, film or electronic, is going to outrun the cost of better storage down the line.
So it literally boils down to: Pick a few things and do a really good job with them, or use better storage for everything and save the bulk of it. In my mind, at least, that is the way it boils down. The costs are high, but you quickly learn to live with low temperature storage. I think it is very practical in your setting, is it not?
MR. MURPHY: Oh, indeed.
MR. REILLY: And it is practical in archival settings as well. And cost--if these were financial assets--I am sure you guys have made the analysis. If these were financial assets and you saw them depreciating, you could translate this chemical degradation into a financial depreciation, it would then be an absolutely simple thing where you would insist that the cost of preventing through better storage was far less than the cost of any remediation or the loss that piles up later on.
I am no accountant, but I do know that you can expect a very large increase in the rate of acetate degradation in collections in the future. The past of nitrate is going to predict the future of acetate. And with color dyes, the same order of magnitude of fading problems will be seen. So you have all this color dye fading at room temperature, you have all this acetate degrading at room temperature and we have not even seen the bulk of it.
So now is your chance, our window in preservation policy to do something about this, and if we stress storage now, I think that is going to be the right decision 20, 50, 75 or 100 years from now. We will have the original material; we will have time to do whatever we want with it, to make it accessible or duplicate it or transfer it to an electronic medium.
MR. MURPHY: A phrase that we have used over time is that we tend to think of the extreme low temperature and relative humidity as arresting further deterioration. Now, that is a scientific way of saying we do not know how long it is going to last but it is better than 70_F and relative humidity that fluctuates all over the place. So that alone, the storage condition being extremely stable, 40_F, 25% relative humidity and maintaining of that 24- hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, do-not-turn-off-the-air-conditioner-on-the-weekends-because- no-one-is-in-the-vault sort of logic. It has to stay constant. You are arresting it and I think that you are right, absolutely.
If you had to choose one thing to do, that would be the thing to do because at least you are going to suspend or arrest whatever the condition right now is, even if you cannot fund making a clone of it.
MR. TABB: David?
DR. MASSON: May I just support what has been said? I would like to stress that at Kodak we believe that relative humidity is at least as important a factor as temperature. And the work which we have done with molecular sieves has shown that it is important to get the relative humidity of the film down to 20 to 30% as quickly as possible after processing. It may take a long time to equilibrate to that level under some conditions, but one must try to get it down as quickly as possible, because the vinegar syndrome reaction can be initiated at a very early stage, although it may not be detectable until some time later.
Also, in the experimental work, we found that the condition is worse in a tightly wound roll of film where the acetic acid, for example, cannot escape quickly from the film compared with tests, our earlier types of tests, in which single strips of film are hung in the incubators in which the experiments were carried out.
MR. TABB: David Francis.
MR. FRANCIS: Dr. Masson, I just wanted to ask you because there was some doubt about this in our earlier hearings: Is the polyester finegrain black-and-white stock actually available? Can you go and buy it? There was extreme doubt in our California hearings as to whether you could actually ring up Kodak and buy it, or whether they were something that was in the pipeline but not physically available.
DR. MASSON: Yes. This is a good point. We did in fact publish a list of the Estar- based materials for the AMIA conference in San Francisco. One of them, the finegrain master pos material is not quite ready yet. We had to transfer this material from triacetate to estar support and it turned out to be not quite as simple as we expected.
However, we have now made a successful coating and it is currently being slit and perforated and will be available very shortly. So I do apologize for that delay in making the material available. [Dr. Masson then provided a copy of the recently-revised Kodak publication #H-23, The Book of Film Care, which provides technical information and recommendations about film storage, to the Board.]
MR. TABB: All right. Thank you gentlemen very much. We will now have the next panel, our second group of preservation and restoration specialists. Statement of Balazs Nyari, President, Cineric
MR. NYARI: My name is Balazs Nyari from Cineric, Inc., New York City. I would like to give a short rundown on our company and essentially make three points.
Cineric is a technical film facility whose only business is film preservation. Cineric was organized in 1981-1982 and incorporated in 1983, and was set up as an optical house with its primary business being the satisfaction of all of Technicolor's optical printing and wetgate duplication needs on the East Coast.
Toward the middle and late eighties, as optical work in general dried up and Technicolor's needs for optical printing and wet duplication diminished, Cineric transitioned to the field of film restoration and preservation.
I would like to qualify that the scope of experience of Cineric, Inc., is strictly dealing with major motion picture studio libraries. 98% of the work Cineric does is performed for major studios. Now my three points are as follows:
1) Even though it is our strong belief that the outstanding nitrate conversion should be completed as expeditiously as possible, the real challenge of the nineties is the preservation of color safety film that is now under great distress and is deteriorating due to vinegar syndrome and color dye fading.
2) We must make libraries, studios and archives realize that they are more than often under the false illusion of their films being protected. Frequently it is discovered only when both the original and the last printing element have been rendered unusable that the protection masters, both color and black-and-white, have been improperly manufactured at some mass production facility.
Henceforth, all protection masters immediately after manufacture should be projected, scrutinized and fully tested to prove their fidelity. The same applies to all existing protection materials.
3) We fear film preservation is in imminent danger of falling in the crack of wasted time between two technologies. The technology, manufacturing capability and services we have at present are fading day by day and may soon be no longer available while digital technology is not only undeveloped for full-scale film preservation, it is hardly financially possible in the foreseeable future.
Thank you. Please accept the foregoing as my statement.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much. Mr. Selznick? Statement of L. Jeffrey Selznick, President, The Louis B. Mayer Foundation
MR. SELZNICK: The trustees of the Louis B. Mayer Foundation decided several years ago that one of the two or three principal areas of our future grant making should be concerned with film preservation. We hope that both the name of our foundation and, as its president, my family name, speak to the legitimacy of our interest in the arena of film preservation and in these hearings.
But as a private entity, our role here is rather different than those of the various witnesses who have preceded us. We have no commercial interests, we are not collectors or archivists, nor are we academics or professional restorers. Rather, we are on a limited scale a supplier of funds from the private sector for film preservation projects. And we bring some hands-on experience and special knowledge to our intervention.
In compensation for the limitation of our financial means, we hope to use our knowledge, creativity and our freedom of action to design our own choice of projects, with a bias towards unconventional and/or challenging projects which are difficult for more institutional interests to undertake. We are also hopeful that our efforts will encourage others in the private sector to underwrite similar activities.
Our current project is an attempt to duplicate original Technicolor by reprinting an original three-strip camera negative by the dye transfer process. The only remaining dye transfer lab facility operating today is in Beijing. The technology and equipment were sold to the Chinese by the Technicolor Corporation in the mid-seventies. To our knowledge, this is the first and only such attempt of its kind that has ever been undertaken.
If ultimately successful, the importance of this could have an impact on the various problems of color film preservation, notably fading, as well as permitting first generation restoration where an original negative exists. In the course of this experiment which is still underway, many of the problems we have encountered are illustrative of the issues relevant to these hearings.
Firstly, before even the problem of standards, there is the problem of terminology. As an example, are we duplicating or replicating? Are we conserving, preserving or restoring or all three? The terms are used interchangeably, and yet they can and should mean different things, all of them within the purview of the hearings and your inquiry. Thus a more exacting definition of terms becomes a necessary adjunct of any discussion of standards.
But the failure to agree on standards appears to us, both nationally and internationally, to embrace a huge potential for misunderstandings, errors of commission and omission, waste and duplicative efforts. While FIAF, for example, has established certain criteria, and while its members may adhere to them, many other interested participants in the film preservation community most assuredly do not. A very serious example of this dichotomy is the issue of what constitutes proper deep protection of original negative.
Truly exacerbated areas of disagreement also concern the terms "original" and "reference print". The meaning of "original" can vary from what was in the director's mind all the way to what is the oldest copy we can find. Most serious archivists and preservationists in our opinion would like to settle on a standard as originally released in its country of origin.
The issue of "reference prints" is more complex. A true reference print is certifiably the same as the print as first published, i.e., as first shown to the public. This becomes particularly critical when doing a restoration of a color motion picture. For example, Technicolor had several different looks at different periods in its history, particularly during the three-strip years, 1935 to '51. As fundamental as this might seem to an archivist, to most people a reference print is, alas, particularly when talking of a film more than 10 to 15 years old, simply an available copy to view or consult or an old copy. No standard of faithfulness is warranted.
As a guide for restorers, a registry of authenticated reference prints is urgently required. Authentication is extremely difficult. Ideally, it is best achieved by documentary evidence of provenance. But even provenance can be a matter of personal experience or memory. Memory alone is too unreliable and slippery to be an accurate gauge of color or visual presentation.
The urgency is because in many instances the numbers of people still alive who are able to authenticate a print by provenance or other physical means is dwindling precipitously and irrevocably.
Encouragement for such a registry could be a role for the Library of Congress to play nationally. It can try to reach out to private collectors as well as institutional or public archives, and then interface the resulting database with an international effort which FIAF should be encouraged to undertake. The suggestion is for a registry only, not for central acquisition; a registry of quality, condition, whereabouts and ownership.
Another thorny problem is the ultimate use of archival materials. Once a film has been "preserved" (protected by producing new preprint masters, etc.), what is to become of the original camera negatives or authenticated original reference prints, particularly nitrate elements? Surely the negative materials must be kept for as long as they viably exist against the discovery of still-improved preservation media or bases.
For example, many three-strip Technicolor negatives were destroyed after making safety interpositives and internegatives. Those safety intermediate materials are now in many cases useless, and because black-and-white masters from color separations (or better still from the original Technicolor three-strip negatives) were never made, the titles are lost.
As for positives, many archivists are loath to let the original materials be used even after protection exists. Or they are fearful of permitting the use of nitrate prints. They apparently prefer for the original to crumble to dust in a vault. Correct assessment of the real risks of projecting and/or shipping nitrate are unfortunately little understood by those still dealing with it.
The solution would be the adoption of a standard for "qualified use" of original, archival and/or nitrate materials. This would enable skilled technicians a limited use of such materials under controlled conditions, with priority being given for use in the replication of the material itself. Without such use, there is no justification for the expense and heroics involved in archiving such prints.
Many countries throughout the world with cinema heritages which pale in comparison to that of the United States have their archival efforts fiscally funded in their national budgets. That avenue is not realistic in this country, particularly in this time of heightened deficit awareness. I believe there are fiscal incentives which could be brought to bear by relatively painless tax code provisions which would at least remove some of the disincentives which, for example, we as a private foundation have found in our way.
The importance of these hearings is to hear the views of all the constituencies that wish to advance the cause of film preservation. We further believe that we need to make still greater efforts to open the door wider to be able to embrace the private collectors who today represent a body of resources which grows in importance as the supply of original materials diminishes through all causes.
While we debate the process of film preservation, we need to find ways to enlist a wider public support for funding of preservation efforts, and as a form of payback, encouraging greater efforts in exhibiting the fruits of preservation. And we must find ways to record the knowledge of the various technical disciplines, the collective cumulative experience of skills and systems which are no longer practiced. The archive of human knowledge must receive the care requisite to its survival which is as important as the archive of preserved or original film materials. Thank you.
MR. TABB: Thank you. Any questions? David?
MR. FRANCIS: Yes. I just wanted to address a question to Jeffrey Selznick. This is really not a technical one but it is about the role of the Foundation. These disincentives you talk about, can you tell us more about them, and also can you think of any incentives that would encourage the Foundation to put more money into a project like this?
MR. SELZNICK: The disincentives are complex. The fact is if we are to undertake a preservation project, we have to show that it cannot benefit any commercial interest. And arguably, if you undertake a preservation of a film, and the rights are owned by a party who can still exploit them, they could then exploit the preserved elements. Our counsel advises us that this creates a problem potentially with the IRS.
MR. FRANCIS: And that would be even if they had to meet the costs you had incurred before they had access to that material.
MR. SELZNICK: Well, if we were reimbursed--
MR. FRANCIS: That is what I am saying.
MR. SELZNICK: If we were ultimately reimbursed, then arguably it would be all right. Another problem has to do with nationality because many films today have multinational ownership and one of the standards that we are held to is that work we do must benefit an American institution.
MR. TABB: Are there any other questions? Thank you very much. We now come to the end, one last representative, from American Movie Classics. Statement of Josh Sapan, President, American Movie Classics
MR. SAPAN: Thank you. I hope we have something to add. We lack some of the depth of knowledge of some of the other people who have appeared here, but hopefully what we do have to say will offer some substance in the context of this.
For those who do not know, American Movie Classics or AMC as it is called is the country's 24-hour classic movie network dedicated to showcasing Hollywood's classic films from the 1930s to the 1970s. All the movies that we show are presented as they were originally intended to be seen, uncut, uninterrupted and without colorization.
AMC is owned by Rainbow Programming Holdings in Long Island, New York. The company also operates Bravo Channel and Romance Classics, which will be operating in 1994. All of those channels show feature classic films.
AMC was launched about ten years ago and was really created to present the golden age of American moviemaking by showcasing the great stars and directors that are associated with Hollywood from that period. It is our commitment to present classic movies as they were meant to be seen, and AMC is actively involved in the search for original and conversions of the vintage Hollywood films.
The restoration and preservation of these films, therefore, is very important to our business, to what we do and to the 43 million people who have access to us via cable TV.
AMC has relationships for licensing films with virtually all of the major studios, as well as a number of independent distributors, and we attempt to maintain as close as a we can a museum-like environment on the television channel, as we secure and present the movies, providing the best experience we can for viewers.
We in the past have worked with a number of organizations in the efforts to do this, including the Directors Guild of America, the American Film Institute, the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and the Film Foundation among others.
AMC actively seeks out and presents widescreen or letterboxed versions of motion pictures as well as showcasing in full-screen format, another means of preserving the original at its best. AMC's first such dual presentation was in March 1992 with the premier of the restored full-length, uninterrupted version of Stanley Kubrick's 1960 Spartacus.
In April 1990--I hope these details are relevant and not boring--we presented the world premiere of the color-restored Hell's Angels, the classic 1930 Howard Hughes film featuring an original scene that is the only existing natural color footage of Jean Harlow. The restoration of this film was conducted by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in association with American Movie Classics.
We worked with UCLA as well to help restore the 1943 patriotic classic This is the Army, which features the music of Irving Berlin, Kate Smith's original version of "God Bless America" and an all-star cast led by President Ronald Reagan. We have also helped restore the lost footage of Gunga Din and Top Hat.
This year, we have our most ambitious effort in this regard. In concert with the celebration of the centennial anniversary of American filmmaking, we have really what amounts to a year-long campaign for film preservation, and we are delighted to be working with the Film Foundation on a specific festival which will run from March 12 through 14.
In addition to being the first ever on-air fund raising effort from consumers for film preservation, the festival will highlight some of the great films that have been restored, including Citizen Kane, Becky Sharp, The Gold Rush, the original screen version of The Last of the Mohicans and many others.
In addition and just as a critical reflection of our culture, we will present other examples of filmed entertainment that are in danger of being lost, such as classic animation, historic newsreels, musical "soundies," comedy shorts, and industrial films as well. And we have an episode of a show that we do called Reflections on the Silver Screen which will feature we think a very nice one-hour interview with Katharine Hepburn, which, along with the other episodes of that series, is being donated to the Library of Congress for its collection.
The way that we see the necessity of film preservation is really as the preservation of a nation's culture, and it occurs to us as we look at our activities that when wars occur one of the greatest atrocities that happens is that warring countries destroy the art of the country. In example after example, from Aleutian carvings to the spirituals of the slaves on southern plantations, from Russian art to Jewish humor, the culture and customs of a people really define them and help keep them alive. And while obviously we do not equate the destruction of books or film with the loss of human lives, the elimination or destruction of a society's or a culture's art is a rare and pretty terrible form of humiliation.
Art defines a culture, and the power of a people's art and culture can serve to keep its spirit alive in the face of prejudice and discrimination. Film, particularly here in America, preserves these experiences for generation after generation.
As you well know, more than half of the film created before 1950 has already disappeared and is being lost as we sit here today, hundreds and thousands of feet of film, movies, newsreels, documentaries, corporate archives are deteriorating frame by frame, reel by reel. It seems unconscionable that it is occurring simply because we are not paying attention- -there is no war going on--simply because the most prolific and popular art form in our nation's history is not being taken seriously. Rather, it is being taken incredibly casually.
Too often it seems it is the plight of art specifically that its value is not recognized at the time of its creation or production. Too much cultural output is not seen as precious and important until years after it was made. In the case of America with film, it really could be, and already has been, to some degree too late.
European nations, in general and by comparison, have always set the stage for the preservation of art and culture. Europe would not be Europe as we know it without the savings of the masterpieces, monuments and architecture of the past. We feel that if we do not address our move history with the same reverence and care, we will live to regret it.
Other countries have called their preservation efforts to the forefront. You may know about them. France years ago unveiled a 15-year plan to restore all of its country's existing nitrate films with government funds, with what is reported to be an effort above $100 million. We certainly have no comparable program, even though America clearly leads the world in the evolution and ongoing contributions to the film industry globally.
As a user of classic films and as a commercial entertainment enterprise, American Movie Classics is using its time and connection with its viewers to call America's attention to these great masterpieces. We are mounting the film preservation festival to raise both funds for and awareness of the needs of the country's film archives and libraries. We are, we hope, creating a stimulus for our viewers and for the public at large to recognize the value of the great classic films. We commit and have committed to doing this not just this year, but year after year and making it a regular part of our business and our preservation.
We would very much like for others in the private sector in some manner to be determined to join with us and help raise funds. I think we have to figure out exactly what structure would work to do that, but we do think that it is sensible, particularly in today's times, for private enterprise and for companies that benefit from this material to be directly involved in the effort. We think it is not only ethical, but it is really very good business.
Somehow we believe that the most successful efforts, if possible, would result from the combined collaboration of such private stimulation, as we are now involved in, with a mutual effort for funding and education between the private sector and the government.
If there is anything that is a peculiarly American art from, it really does seem to be film. Moviemaking is the closest thing to a diary of the country's annual activities and achievements. We have led the world through the creation and evolution of the film process and continue to be its most proliferative contributor. It seems it would be a shame for us not to be in the forefront of preserving the art form as well. More so, it seems it would be criminal.
This is reminiscent of something I saw on television. We are running an 800- number right now on our screen, and I alert you to it just to park in your brains, for people to call in and pledge donations for film preservation via American Movie Classics, which will be used by the Film Foundation for preservation efforts.
At the risk of imitating somebody, the number is 1-800-446-0900. And we will be using that number and in fact it is now on our television screen. We will be doing it significantly March 12 through 14 and we hope to raise money for these efforts.
MR. TABB: Thank you very much.
MR. BELTON: My question may not be as central, but I am very intrigued by your efforts. The question that comes off the side is I know that during your preservation week you will be showing some studio films and other kinds of films. But using your expertise as a cable programmer executive, do you think that there is a market within the American public for the kind of films that we have been talking about today for cable broadcast? That is, avant-garde films, documentaries, films made by minorities. And could this in a foreseeable future be an avenue for funding preservation for these particular kinds of films? Is this at all possible or are there orphan films that will never find an audience either.
MR. SAPAN: I guess I believe that there is an audience for a tremendously wide range of material. The very businesses that we are in, American Movie Classics and Bravo as well, is really about showing material that in large part does not turn up and is not shown anywhere else, and has much smaller audiences than television conventionally has. And we do find audiences, and those audiences, though small, tend to be loyal and passionate and have made our businesses with some struggle at least viable.
So I do think that there are small, but very interested, segments out there. Exactly how outside of what we are doing that can be turned into preservation, proactive preservation efforts, I am not sure exactly, but I do think that there is interest and appetite for that material. Did that answer your question?
MR. BELTON: Yes. The fundraising is a separate issue.
MR. SAPAN: Right.
MR. BELTON: What I was thinking of was perhaps that there is a market that would encourage people to preserve these films and to present them to the public and that would pay its own way.
MR. SAPAN: Yes. It is possible. Figuring out exactly how to structure that within the constructs of the cable industry, which I work in, is delicate to figure out how to do it. In the case of Bravo, which is perhaps somewhat more akin to what you are talking about in the material it presents, asking people to pay specifically incrementally for the material is frankly a tough go, a very tough go. And our experience has been that we have been frankly more successful with the Bravo channel having the consumer not having to pay incrementally but having it in one piece of cable TV brings overall.
MR. BELTON: So people will not pay for the orphan channel. [Laughter.]
MR. SAPAN: Not above a dime.
MR. BELTON: Okay.
MR. SHEFTER: First of all, I must commend you for what you are doing. I think it is terrific. There is going to be a great public awareness of preservation through your program, although I must admit having a telethon always seems to be associated with a disease. Maybe Jim Reilly was right, it is prevention of disease.
Just to help us in case we are ever fortunate to come up with the kind of money we hope you are going to raise, how are you going to distribute this? How are you going to decide who gets the money, for what type of preservation activities?
MR. SAPAN: It will be largely done through our relationship with the Film Foundation, and I am actually not entirely certain how every decision will be made about where those dollars go to. I wish I had better information on their involvements and their decisionmaking process, but it will be done more through their auspices.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: I think they are going to distribute the money to various of the archival institutions.
MR. SAPAN: Right.
CHAIRWOMAN KANIN: I think it is wonderful. I watch AMC at home in Los Angeles, and to have talk about preservation on that channel is just terrific. All of us should be very interested in the amount of money raised, and in the amount of response. I hope that you will get back to us with what the result is because it is certainly a model for us to use to raise funds for preservation.
MR. SAPAN: I appreciate the comment. Thank you. One thing I would caution is that we really do see this, no kidding, as a multi-year endeavor, and we think that we can make it build year after year after year, if we do it properly. I guess I am restraining myself from judging year one in too tough a manner lest we get disappointed, because I do think that we need to build momentum and expectation and do a good job. Hopefully year one will be terrific, but if it is not, I just want to make sure that we move on and do it year after year. Because I do think if we commit ourselves to it, we can raise the sort of dollars that we would like to see.
MR. TABB: David Chasman?
MR. CHASMAN: Is AMC licensed to distribute its library in Europe?
MR. SAPAN: No, it is not. Not for the most part.
MR. CHASMAN: Bravo Programming seems to be mostly British material.
MR. SAPAN: No, it is a combination of--most of the television material, original for television material, is from the U.K. The film material, a lot of it is domestic U.S. and some of it is foreign.
MR. TABB: Any other questions? Thank you.
MR. SAPAN: Thank you very much.
MR. TABB: I would like to close now with just a few reminders. One, we do want you to sign the register that is in the lobby. If you have not done that already, we would like very much to know who was here today.
Second, I remind you that if you wish to make comments for the record, we very much invite you to do that. We strongly encourage it. Even if you have already submitted a statement, if something has happened today that makes you want to revise that statement or add additional information, that is fine. Those of you who may have had some ideas generated by the discussion today who would like to put those in writing, we would appreciate that, too. They must come to us, however, by March 15, to Mr. Leggett of the Motion Picture Division of the Library.
Third, we will publish the transcript of today's meeting as well as the one in Los Angeles as an appendix to the report we give to Congress which is due on June 26 of this year. For those of you who are interested, we will be sure to get copies to you, but it will not be distributed before it is given to Congress as an attachment to our report.
Most importantly, however, I would like to close by thanking everyone who has participated today--our panelists, the wonderfully prepared speakers and perhaps equally important in some respects, the large number of people who came out in this incredible weather today and stayed throughout what has been a fairly long day. We did not expect nearly so many observers here in Washington and because of the weather, and we thank you. I was very glad to see as many people from our own Motion Picture Division as have been able to stay throughout the day.
One of the themes of the day, if you can remember back when Fay first spoke about eight hours ago, was about how wonderful it has been to have these meetings which bring together so many people from different parts of the film community. I cannot count how many times we have talked about communication, collaboration and cooperation, even down to Mr. Selznick's talking just now about opening windows and speaking to all constituencies. I think that probably the single most important thing we have done is of getting together all the different groups and eliciting their ideas that will help us come forward with a plan that should really make a big difference for our country's film preservation. So I thank all of you for the different ways in which you have participated in this process.
[At 5:25 p.m., the hearing was concluded.]