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April 2003, Week 4


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Leo Enticknap <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 25 Apr 2003 11:09:31 +0100
text/plain (54 lines)
At 11:13 24/04/2003 -0400, you wrote:

>I have a very bright undergraduate student who is interested in pursuing a
>career in film preservation/restoration.  What is the best advice that I
>can give him to help him achieve this goal?

Unless he is an undergraduate in a science or engineering subject or is
extremely determined, to forget it.

There are many career paths in film archiving which are suitable for
humanities graduates, for which the most suitable route in is a full-time
masters' degree in film archiving such as the ones offered by George
Eastman House in the US or the University of East Anglia in the UK.  But
the vast majority of these graduates end up in areas such as acquisitions,
cataloguing, access and cultural activity related to moving image
collections.  The work of preservation and restoration requires first and
foremost a knowledge of inorganic chemistry related to cellulose esters,
closely followed the chemistry and physics of photography and sound
recording and the mechanical and electronics skills related to the
equipment used for film-related processes.

The overwhelming majority of full-time workers in archival preservation and
restoration nowadays are science graduates.  I am very unusual in being
formally qualified in humanities subjects (my first degree and doctorate
are both in history, whilst my MA is in film archiving from East Anglia)
but having also worked in technical jobs in the film industry part-time
(first as a cinema projectionist, then as a projection engineer and finally
in a lab) to pay for it, and my technical knowledge is largely self-taught
(and self taught by several years of working 90-hour weeks).  But I am very
much in a minority, and don't think I would stand much chance of obtaining
a senior technical position in a major archive - most of these people have
PhDs in chemistry, and need them.

If he really is determined to pursue a career in this very specialised area
of moving image archiving, I would say that his best bet would be to start
by taking a further first degree, ideally in chemistry.


Dr. Leo Enticknap
Director, Northern Region Film and Television Archive
School of Arts and Media
University of Teesside
Middlesbrough  TS1 3BA
United Kingdom
Tel. +44-(0)1642 384022
Fax. +44-(0)1642 384099
Brainfryer: +44-(0)7739 412022

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