Guest post by Joshua Yocum and Kate Cronin
We’ve had a busy 2013/2014 school year full of AMIA UR activities and are gearing up for another one here in Rochester, NY. Our chapter is composed of a mixture of Masters Students, Selznick Certificate Program students and University of Rochester students. Among us we have quite a varied spectrum of interests, projects and expertise, but our AMIA UR Chapter provides us with a space to come together as students and future colleagues in order to promote our common interest in film preservation.
One of the first things we are taught at the Eastman House is that no film is fully preserved until it is screened for an audience; therefore film workshops and screenings are a big focus. For our first major event last fall we participated in Home Movie Day, October 18, 2013. Our Home Movie Day was held at the Record Archive, Rochester, New York, and generously sponsored by Wegman’s Supermarket.
Home Movie Day is a worldwide event which affirms that the audiovisual records of our every-day lives and memories are worth caring for and worth screening, both because of our emotional connections to them and also because they are historical documents. In preparation we had a class on small gauge film as well as a handling workshop, and on the day itself we set up three different stations that we rotated through so that everyone would get some experience: registration, inspection and projection.
One of the most important things we did that day was pass out home movie film care instructions to everyone who brought in film or video so that they will be able to make their films last as long as possible. We screened a lot of home movies, some funny, some sweet and some serious, but perhaps our favorite moment came within the last thirty minutes of the day, when a woman came in with some super 8mm film she found in her attic. We inspected it and threaded the projector up to discover that it was footage of her and her sister at a birthday party that she had never seen before. Her excitement was wonderful to see and it’s what Home Movie Day is all about.
Our second big event from the year was a March visit from the wonderful students of the McGill AMIA Student Chapter. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to talk and exchange ideas with them about the field and to show them all we could of the George Eastman House and the University of Rochester. Their visit included tours of the Eastman House, with a film handling workshop, and the nitrate vaults, with a fantastic film identification workshop held by the incomparable Deborah Stoiber, the George Eastman House Collection Manager. We learned a lot from them and we are so grateful for their visit amidst one of the harshest Rochester winters yet.
We’ve taken the summer mostly to pursue our individual interests. Two of our members spent their summers in California working at the Academy Archive, one of us at the Seward Archive at the University of Rochester, another at the Image Permanence Institute at RIT and several pursuing individual projects and interests at the George Eastman House. We also bid last year’s fearless leader, Amber Bertin adieu as she goes on to bigger and better things, beginning work on an exciting project at the Northeast Historic Film. We will miss her immense knowledge, leadership and fantastic baking. Amber, we will try to do you proud.
And now that summer is winding down we’re anxious for our fall activities to begin. On our Fall to do list is of course Home Movie Day 2014, as well as a unique and successful fundraising activity we developed last year thanks to the talented Jennifer Graves; selling film roses made from discarded film at Dryden screenings and events in order to raise money for our chapter. We are also planning some ways to be better advocates for watching films on film on the University of Rochester campus, and are in talks to try and provide screenings for the actual film studies classes on campus using the University’s considerable and sadly underused 16mm collection.
2013 was an exciting year and we’re excited to meet the new class of Selznick and University of Rochester students who will surely bring new expertise, ideas, and interests to our group. We can’t wait to see what everyone else has been up to and we look forward to seeing you all in Savannah, Georgia this October for the AMIA Conference!