I’ve been at the museum for 11 years now, first as an intern, then as a student at Eastman House’s L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation. I was hired as a curatorial assistant and then moved into the position of cataloger for the Motion Picture Department.
My wife hates it when I talk in terms of fractions, but it’s been more than one-quarter of my life spent here at Eastman House, and the thing that attracted me, inspired me and drives me to this day is the wonderful film preservation program that we all play a daily part in.
George Eastman House has collected close to 28,000 titles in the last 60 years, and has been preserving them on film for almost as long, keeping them in vaults that will make sure they are accessible to future generations for hundreds of years to come.
In my current role as Head of Collection Information and Access, I get to talk to people about these films, whether it’s for exhibition at our own Dryden Theatre, or researchers who come to Rochester to view films from the collection, or institutions around the world that borrow the prints and play them at their own venues. So, when I received the opportunity to talk about some of these films with a national audience, I jumped at the chance.
Turner Classic Movies chose George Eastman House to be the focus of a 24-hour salute, providing airtime for films that have been conserved, preserved, restored, and reconstructed by the Motion Picture Department. The highlight of this salute to George Eastman House will be the introductions provided by longtime TCM host Robert Osborne and, as a representative of the museum, myself. I visited the studio on Friday, Nov. 11, to tape the segments for broadcast.
The four movies highlighted with introductions are Stanley Kubrick’s Fear and Desire (1953), Technicolor gem Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951), early action film Roaring Rails (1924), and the oldest-existing film version of Mark Twain’s classic Huckleberry Finn (1920).
I did a lot of research and preparation in advance of the trip. I made sure I knew about not only the films themselves, but also the preservations that George Eastman House provided for them – the history, the technical aspects, the materials used. I tried to anticipate any question about the films that might be asked, and even prepared short papers to structure the information in my mind.
But I needn’t have worried. Mr. Osborne and the entire crew at Turner Classic Movies are so kind, professional, and generous that they made the entire experience a joy. We sat down for an hour and a half and had casual (but informative!) conversations about the films, the George Eastman House, and preservation in general. The set looked gorgeous, staged for the holiday season, and I had a great time, from the first minute to the last.
As the tribute day approaches, I will blog again, in more detail about the salute, as to what will be on, and when to watch. But the date to remember is one month from today — Wednesday, December 14 — starting at 6:15 a.m. on Turner Classic Movies.