Spotlight on Motion Picture Preservation

Posted by on Apr 11 2012 | Motion Pictures

As we head to Hollywood this week for the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, we look back at a recent film preservation event in Australia with Eastman House Film technician Ben Tucker:

With the goal of sharing knowledge about the practice of preserving motion pictures and making those preserved films available to the public, an annual exchange program was established in 2006 between the Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) located in Canberra, the nation’s capital.

In 2011 I was excited to learn that I was the staff member selected to visit the NFSA.

During my visit in late October and early November, I rotated between departments and was able to spend some time with many of the 200+ staff members of the NFSA. I worked with the film technicians, video technicians, as well as the film stills and paper conservation departments. I also had the opportunity to work with the curators of the sound collection, sound technicians, film programmers and projectionists. I visited the NFSA offices in Sydney and Melbourne, met with the vault managers, toured the film laboratory and learned how they market their collections.

During my time in Melbourne I visited the Astor Theatre and the Sun Theatre. I met with the owners and technicians of both venues to learn about how they operate their organizations. I visited Chapel Film Distribution, the Australian rights holders of many classic Hollywood and foreign language films. I was fortunate to coordinate my visit with the Canberra International Film Festival and was able to attend a screening of the newly restored METROPOLIS at the Sydney Opera House with live musical accompaniment by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

At the end of my stay I delivered a presentation to approximately 50 staff members of the NFSA, including their new CEO and the Chairman of their Board of Directors. There, I gave a brief history of GEH and the Motion Picture Department and my impressions of the NFSA during my visit. I addressed the similarities and differences between the two institutions and spoke about what I learned during my time there.

It was a fantastic opportunity for me to experience the works and rewards of this National Archive, and I am pleased to share this video of my presentation:


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    Ben Tucker is the Processing Technician in the Motion Picture Department. He has been employed by George Eastman House since 2003.

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