BEST INDEPENDENT FILMMAKERS
Best Independent Filmmaker should follow the following things:
CONSIDER PLACING YOUR FILMS AND VIDEOS AT AN ARCHIVE
Moving image archives care for films and videotapes so they can be seen and enjoyed for generations to come. The mission of most archives is to store, preserve, catalogue and make accessible the materials they hold. This work is undertaken in the spirit of cherishing and protecting our collective cultural and artistic heritage, not for profit. The archive stores your materials free of charge. You the filmmaker retain the copyright to your work, even if you donate your physical film or video to the archive. Outside organizations must still obtain your permission to publicly screen your work, and you may still negotiate a fee as a condition of granting permission for screening.
HOW TO CHOOSE AN ARCHIVE TO CARE FOR YOUR WORK
There are many moving image archives, large and small; all over the world archives often have collections of particular genres, topics, or relevance to a geographical area or group of people. Pick an archive that suits you and your materials. One with temperature- and humidity controlled vaults will be best for your films.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR ORIGINAL MATERIALS
Whether you store them in your home, keep them at a lab, or pay for outside storage at a vault, be sure to check in once in a while to make sure your films and tapes are where you think they are. Labs and storage facilities can go out of business and well meaning family members can rearrange rooms and closets.
LABEL YOUR FILMS AND TAPES
Include the title, date made, reel number, running time, complete or incomplete, type of element (master, A&B rolls, etc.), and your name, address and phone number. Write some notes about how your piece is intended to look and sound and keep the notes in a plastic bag next to the materials or in a paper or computer file linked to the materials. If an archivist is working to preserve your piece fifty years from now, s/he will know what to aim for.
STORE FILMS AND VIDEOS IN A COOL, DRY, CLEAN, SAFE PLACE
Where the temperature and humidity will not vary too much. Would you store a bag of flour there? If not, don’t put your film there!
COOL: Hot attics, garages and car trunks are bad choices. A cupboard or drawer inside your home is preferable, and cooler areas are even better. The optimal low temperature for tapes is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not freeze tapes with film, the colder you keep it, the more you will increase its lifespan. Every degree colder is a plus. To find out how to safely freeze your films.
FILMS: KEEP IN PLASTIC CANS AND ALLOW AIR CIRCULATION
Archival plastic cans are best for films and are not too expensive. You can buy them where film supplies are sold. Coated metal cans are okay too. Do not keep films in rusty or dirty cans or in cardboard lab boxes. Store film on cores, not on reels. Take film out of plastic bags. Remove rubber bands. Use a minimum of tape. Don’t store papers, such as lab notes, in the can with your films; instead, write a note on the can that you have paper material on file elsewhere that relates to the film, then put the papers in a separate envelope and label it with the name of the film. The goals are to allow the film air circulation and to keep it away from any materials that might become sticky or release acids.
TAPES: KEEP IN PLASTIC CASES AND AWAY FROM MAGNETIC FIELDS
Plastic shells help protect tapes from damage, dust, and water. Store away from magnetic fields that could affect the signal. Make protection copies. Migrate your data as technologies change.
MAKE PROTECTION COPIES
Make duplicates of your tapes or digital files and keep copies at different locations. This way if anything happens to the tape at your house, you will have a backup copy someplace else, such as your office or a friend’s house. Make sure the copies are stored properly at their remote locations and that the people keeping them for you understand their value and won’t misplace them or throw them away! If you have duplicate film elements, you can store them at different locations in the same way. For example, keep the original negative yourself and store a good print with your best friend.
COPYING FILMS ONTO VIDEO OR DVD
This is a great way to make your material easier to view, and a great way to give copies to friends and family. To be sure that care is taken with your films; bring them to a facility that will handle them properly. Many of the big drugstores offer cheaper transfer services, but if you feel that your films are priceless, make sure they’re treated that way! And remember, after you make a transfer; always keep your original films! The films will outlast whatever medium they’re transferred to.
WHAT ABOUT CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGY WILL ANYONE STILL BE ABLE TO
Pay attention to changes in technology and transfer your images to a new format when the format they’re on is in danger of becoming obsolete. Even if your DV-Cam tape is still in good shape in thirty years, you will probably have hard time finding equipment that will play it. Technology changes fast and data migration is a job that never ends. But it’s worth it to make sure your production will live on! Always keep your original master tapes as well as the new format transfers.
WON’T EVERYTHING DIGITAL BASICALLY LAST FOREVER
Although the ones and zeroes of digitized images may sound timeless, those ones and zeroes have to be stored in the real physical world somehow for example, on a DVD, a digital videotape, or the hard drive of a computer. DVDs and videotapes can age badly, sustain damage, and become unreadable; hard drives can crash. And of course the formats will eventually become obsolete.