The Cinematic G.A.T.E.: Access & the Moving Image

About Me

“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” –Emile Zola

My background has been within the moving image field for 15 years. After receiving my Bachelor’s Degree from UC Santa Cruz in Film, Television and Media Studies, I followed that with graduate school in the Cinema and Media Studies program at UCLA, and graduated with my Master’s Degree in 2005. After a few years of industry work and managing the media vault of a post-production facility, my goal and career path become clear: I wanted to become a moving image archivist.

I attending the Reel Thing conference and the AMIA annual Conference in Philadelphia and found there was a population of skilled professionals who cared about the same things I cared about. I was sold. I began the MIAS Program at UCLA very shortly afterwards.

As shown on my CV, I participated in a wide range of activities during my time at UCLA. During my 1st year in the MIAS program, I became interested in cataloging and did a internship at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. It was a tremendous experience and one that helped to facilitate my engagement in later classes as I had a strong grasp of record analysis, MARC and practical evaluation skills.

I wished to pursue a relationship with the AMIA organization during my scholastic experience because of my positive experiences, so I ran for president of the Student Chapter both years and won. While holding that position, I curated the film series discussed here which was heavily influenced by the administrative training and assistance that I received from Snowden Becker, during her courses and as an advising body to the Student Chapter. This screening series made the Student Chapter financially solvent and able to fund an event featuring Rick Prelinger this past 2013 Spring quarter. There are also future plans for student grants/scholarships for AMIA-related activities and conferences.

Inspired by the research done for a paper on women in the moving image archiving field and the wide range of positions held by women I talked to, I wished to make that aspect of the archival world part of  my experience in the MIAS program. I attempted to learn as much as I could about as many areas of the field as possible. I investigated the ethnomusicological view of archiving by taking a course in audiovisual archiving in the 21st century and experienced perspectives on culture and access in Anne Gilliland’s American Archives and Manuscripts class that I had never considered. This last course allowed me the space to investigate the politics of the archive and collections and my interest in the on-going Boston College Subpoenas was able to take form in academic work.

The two main “genres” in my academic career are 1) a focus on marginalization and the moving image and 2) access to the moving image text. Through the archiving world and the MIAS program I have found ways to connect these two emphases. In Professor Allyson Field’s seminar on the L.A. Rebellion Filmmakers I explored films that were deteriorating and in danger of being lost, but also revealed the importance and significance of their ignored creators. Much of the work that these men and women made was scarce, in poor condition and difficult to locate simply because of their identities as filmmakers of color, women, and non-narrative artists. It became clear that my MIAS work had a dual feature: it had the capacity to reveal and showcase preservation needs as well as highlighting marginalized communities.

Through my involvement with the Diversity Committee at AMIA in the planning the community archiving project at the 2012 AMIA Annual Conference, I experienced the power that we have as a community to work together and give back through archival education. I also worked heavily with the Access Committee, gathering information on moving archive facilities for Deep Focus, the AMIA moving image archive directory, and was recently voted in as the Access Committee chair. I plan to implement many of the skills I have learned from the MIAS program in continuing to make that Committee a strong and vibrant part of the AMIA Community.

Contributing a film record to the AFI Catalog, an activity completed for Professor Jonathan Furner’s course on Moving Image Cataloging, was a significant highlight of my MIAS experience. The moving image archiving community places a high focus on alliance, and this project could not have been done without cooperation with the AFI. An example of the practical work being done in the libraries and archives right now, this activity assisted me greatly in preparation for eventual workforce activities.

A goal that I had set for myself was to become more educated about the technical side of moving image preservation and restoration. The MIAS program gave me a unique opportunity to realize this. I was encouraged to attend a SMPTE meeting and I requested journalistic permission from those in charge of SMPTE so that the AMIA Student Chapter could report on it for the AMIA Student Chapter blog. It was a significant way to sync up much of my own outside journalism work and use it towards my career path.

Because the MIAS program is exceptional at providing us access to primary sources and assisting us in making connections to people who may help us understand the work done in the field first hand, I was able to get a personal tour from Tom Burton at Technicolor and ask him questions about digital restoration technology when I was writing on that subject. When I was taking a course from Mike Pogorzelski, director of the Academy Film Archive, he made extensive efforts to make certain that I was able to meet and talk with Josef Lindner, a preservation officer at the Academy and key individual responsible for the excellent work done in restoring Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason.

Researching restoration technology gave me a passion for its connections to access and the way format changes and platforms are continually unfolding. Each class that I have taken has allowed me to meet working archival professionals and experience new-to-me examples of the way that our moving image culture is being preserved. I have taken all of these things in stride and tried my best to try to start putting my education into practice through my work in exhibition.

The final AMIA Student Chapter screening of the year was modeled after the most formative events that were part of my MIAS experience. I took the structural ideas learned in the Access seminar taught by Mark Quigley, combined them with the administrative tools that I had already put to work as a result of Snowden Becker’s course, and added my final work and interest in restoration. Together, the 2-night program resulted in more of a mini-conference than the other film screenings I had curated.

Something Old, Something Saved utilized the presentation-style of the screenings in Mike Pogorzelski’s Ethics of Restoration class, adding working professionals and educational content to the evening as well as 35mm restored prints. Each night had different work, guests and revolved around the moving image archive as dynamic, provocative and essential for continued film appreciation.  Our primary archival professional was Ross Lipman from the UCLA Film & Television Archive. We discussed the value of UCLA’s collection and contributions to moving image heritage, as well as covering both photochemical and digital issues. I enlisted the help of Alonso Duralde, a senior programmer at Outfest, to introduce one of the films and his discussion about the Legacy Project brought restorations issues home due to UCLA’s long-standing relationship with Outfest.

While my interests and career goals could be listed specifically as moving image restoration, exhibition, donor relations, archival event planning and fundraising, the blanket I put over all of these is moving image access. My wish is to make as much of them accessible to as many people as possible, through exhibition, home entertainment, educational archives, or museum settings. Due to the current digital landscape, it is not possible to say how our visuals will be consumed in a few years. But opening up pathways of communication between various archives (private and public) and building partnerships in order to get content to audiences for the experience is one of my primary targets. Whether our future landscape will involve streaming and home entertainment, festival circuits or as-yet-unknown technologies, we must be ready for all of it with solid communication skills and a love for the work and passion for its future.

I can be contacted via email at sinaphile@gmail.com

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