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Career advice? (Archiving, etc)

Robert Harris

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#1 of 2 Jesse Skeen

Jesse Skeen

    Producer

  • 4,002 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 1999

Posted February 21 2009 - 01:32 PM

Hi Robert,

You might remember me as the one who took your order on the phone at Tower.com (back when it was still Tower) for the "Walk The Line" DVD. Anyways, I thought I'd put this out here just to see if you have any advice:

I know the economy isn't great right now and this probably isn't the best time to look for a new job, but assuming that things will straighten out eventually, I would like to get into something having to do with the archiving, preserving, and/or restoration of film and video footage, and maybe sound recordings and still photos too. I've seen hints of people and companies that do this sort of thing listed in the end credits of movies, like Getty Images and Deborah Ricketts who is often listed as a stock footage researcher. I'm wondering how they obtained that kind of work and if I have any shot at doing that someday. Basically I know that some things are stored in a "vault" and I'd like to be the keeper of that vault as well as finding things for it.

A little background- for 10 years I worked in the movie theater business as a projectionist, I eventually left because the big companies do not care about quality film presentation and I simply wasn't appreciated. I loved that job though as I always presented the films as perfectly as possible- I don't have the kind of creativity to make my own movie, but I find I'm good at taking an existing film and making sure it's presented the way it's supposed to be. Sadly a large number of people who work at theaters don't know or care about what they're doing; I rarely see movies at a theater anymore because I can't trust that the presentation won't be ruined in one way or another. The large theater chains are determined to replace film with digital projection soon anyways (supposedly the running of these doesn't require as much work from anyone as film does), which from what I've seen isn't as good as a perfect 35mm presentation but still better than a lousy one.

After I got out of the theater business I went to work for the corporate headquarters of Tower Records in Sacramento, and I would have stayed with that company forever had it not met an untimely demise. I currently work in data entry as it's the only job I've been able to find that provides me with a decent income, but I know I've got unused talent and that bugs me a lot. In my spare time I've been hunting down old videotapes recorded from TV in the early years of home VCRs and transferring them to DVD, and posting favorite old commercials and station promos online, as you can see in my signature. A lot of this stuff would probably be lost forever otherwise, and it would be great if I could turn this sort of thing into a job.

Thanks for any advice you or anyone else reading this can provide, at the very least if you don't have anything to say thanks for reading this.
Home video oddities, old commercials and other junk: http://www.youtube.com/user/eyeh8nbc

#2 of 2 Robert Harris

Robert Harris

    Lead Actor

  • 7,429 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 08 1999
  • Real Name:Robert Harris

Posted February 22 2009 - 11:03 PM

Jesse,

You're discussing a myriad of different archival or business situations.

Stock footage people are hired by a production to locate the needed footage, and generally work with the dozen or so footage houses that service the industry. They are trained to have a good idea as to which house has what... or if it even exists.

There are then the people who work at the stock houses, who generally have little or no knowledge of archival nature -- just where is the tape or film element that has shot xxx.

Then there are the archives, AFA, UCLA, GEH and MOMA, plus a few smaller ones in this country in addition to corporate archives.

Beyond the archives, there are the studios, each of which has their own asset protection people, vaults, preservation /restoration programs, etc.

First you need to figure out which of these situations interests you.

If it's the archival route, there are programs at UCLA, GEH and NYU that can place you in line for a masters degree in the field. You can find all of the on line.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence