Joshua Ranger recently touched on something very near and dear to the Self Preservation Working Group’s heart; in his words, “The Elitism of Film Preservation”:
“…despite the good work the National Film Preservation Foundation has done, their model and funding mission does not match the world of moving image collections as I experience them on the ground.
I do not see single films that require weeks of detailed work to restore them and garner front page articles in the newspaper. I see piles of U-matics and 1/2 inch open reel and miniDVs — thousands and thousands of them that need quality transfers, but are in a volume and state that would not be feasible at the same time and cost factor as a film preservation project. These are broadcast programs, interviews, field footage, news gathering, home videos, amateur image capture, production materials, and beyond. Box office doesn’t matter because there is no box office here. The auteur does not matter because these materials are more reflective of an institution or of related content produced over years and decades.It’s about the democratization and the speed that video capture enables, which also means that it’s about volume and long term impressions, not singularity and pristine objects.
Perhaps my anger is misdirected, because the frustration here is that video does not have the same foundational and federal support as film, whereas, arguably, video (and audio) is the much greater documentarian of history and culture of the past 30 years, documenting home life, political events, disasters, community, performing arts, and all degree of personal, regional, and national experiences.”
May’s installment of Self Preservation will focus on moving images and will help you learn to preserve the sort of materials Mr. Ranger is championing here. Look out for more info soon!