“We want to sound an alarm,” said summit organizer and DOC NYC artistic director Thom Powers. “Today all filmmakers have to serve as their own archivists, whether it’s for work on older formats or fresh footage on a hard drive. This summit will give filmmakers vital knowledge about how to save their work and make it available to the public.”
The speakers will include Academy Award winning directors D.A. Pennebaker (“Monterey Pop,” “The War Room”) and Barbara Kopple (“Harlan County USA,” “American Dream”); producer-director Warrington Hudlin, the founder of the Black Filmmaker Foundation; Margaret Bodde, the executive director of The Film Foundation, and Sandra Schulberg, the head of the IndieCollect film documentation and preservation campaign.
“Preserving access to great documentary films and ensuring they remain available to future generations is a sleeping-giant issue facing documentary filmmakers and aficionados alike,” said Marjan Safinia, IDA Board President.
The summit will kick off with “Keynote Panel: A Call to Action for Documentary Preservation,” featuring Hudlin, Kopple, Pennebaker, Powers and Schulberg, that will highlight the risks facing precious films. This keynote panel is aimed at film lovers who want to better understand why classic documentaries become unavailable and what’s being done to address the crisis in preservation. The audience will get a sneak peak at the new IndieCollect Index, an attempt to catalogue the entire field of American independent cinema, supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation.
The next day will feature the four panels below:
“Earning Revenue from Old Films”
Is there any money to be made from old documentaries? That’s a key question that arises when discussing preservation. This panel brings together representatives of digital streaming platforms to discuss opportunities for selling back catalog films, including case studies of the Drew Associates library and “Hands on a Hard Body.”
Speakers: Jeremy Boxer (Vimeo), Adam Klaff (VHX), Linda Pan (Doc Club), George Schmalz (Kickstarter).
“Confronting Clearance and Legal Issues”
Older documentaries often face legal impediments in order to be re-released. Those challenges include unclear contracts with producers and distributors; or murky clearance agreements for footage and music. This panel brings together specialists who have addressed these issues. The discussion will include case studies of reviving Henry Hampton’s “Eyes on the Prize” and Marcel Ophuls’ “The Memory of Justice.”
Speakers: Margaret Bodde (Film Foundation), Dennis Doros (Milestone Films), Rena Kosersky (“Eyes on the Prize”).
“How Does Your Film Become Preserved and Discoverable?”
Filmmakers need to understand what film archives do and how to partner with them. But preserving your film for posterity is just the first step. IndieCollect and some of its archive collaborators illustrate how they preserve work and render it accessible — to film programmers, online distributors, cinephiles and the general public — so that filmmakers can monetize it.
Speakers: Israel Ehrisman (IndieCollect), Elena Rossi-Snook (New York Public Library), Katie Trainor (MoMA).
“Best Practices: Don’t Lose Your Footage in the Digital Age”
For today’s working filmmaker, finished works as well as raw footage, increasingly wind up on hard drives for digital storage. The challenge of how to cope with digital formats is new to everyone. It requires even greater diligence than was required for older formats of celluloid and tape. On this panel, filmmakers discuss cautionary tales and strategies for not losing precious footage.
Speakers: Allison Berg (director, “The Dog”), Rufus de Rham (Activist Archivists), Clara Fon-Sing (NBCUniversal Archives), David Leitner (filmmaker).
For more information, including times and prices, visit the DOC NYC website.