I am an avid movie fan, and a part of the fan-based preservation community. Fan-based preservation involves looking for films that deserve to be preserved and arranging to transfer them to digital from cinematic prints. As you clearly see from some of the posts on this website, I love doing trailers as well. My purpose with this website is to share what I and others learn as a resource for others to access. And of course to showcase some of the work fans have achieved.
About fan preservations
There are many different groups that do non-sanctioned fan preservations or restorations of old films. There are lots of good reasons for doing so, I think that most of us are motivated to save the original versions of films before they get lost or destroyed. Most preservations that happen I will never know about, because they get vaulted for release one day when copyright allows for it. Sadly, there have been situations where people have invested many thousands of dollars into preserving a film they believed could be released in the near future when the film hits the public domain, only to have the already archaic copyright laws extended further to make their release illegal.
Can we profit from fan preservations?
The answer is yes, and we would certainly like to. However the only example I know of personally is Gulliver’s Travels released by Thunderbean Animation. It’s very difficult to get distribution rights to films that we would like to produce our own restorations of. Unfortunately with present copyright laws most unauthorised preservations simply get indefinitely vaulted, however some also find their way onto the web. To complicate matters further, many older films (as many as 20% of films pre-1960) are orphaned works for whom their rightful copyright owners are not known.
Why create fan preservations?
It’s important to realise that many opportunities for fans to work collaboratively with distributors have been lost due to draconian terms set by rights holders. We believe that many classic films and television shows have been lost forever due to requisition policies, and the fear that collectors have that their films will be requisitioned even when assurances are given that this will not happen. For example there are still lost Doctor Who episodes that I believe are in the hands of collectors, however the BBC’s policy remains to requisition the material if brought to them. If however they were brought to us we would absolutely guarantee confidentiality and ensure that your film reels do not get sized.
How can I support film preservation?
The best way is to support your local film and television archives. Many of them do film restorations, and I would strongly encourage those of you who are in a position to do so to sponsor some of their great work. If you have a business think about how great it would be to have your business name on a film restoration! If there’s anyone in the film industry most deserving of support it would be them, so please please support your local film and television archive whenever you can!
Another way is to support changes to copyright that would limit the term of copyright to something sensible, like 30 years. The best way to do this is to support your local consumer advocacy organisation, and to get the term of copyright onto their agendas as a priority. You will find that most good consumer advocacy orgs already have this on their agenda. And you’ll find that all good film and television archives support the move to shorter fixed-term copyrights as well. Also, do not support any organisation that wants to keep the old outdated system in place.