Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Remembering Film Preservationist David Shepard, We Say The Film Prayer!
“If you’ve seen a superior print of a film by Chaplin or Keaton, Griffith or Murnau, chances are David had a hand in restoring it,” Leonard Maltin
In a topic near and dear to those of us who adore classic movies and the staunch efforts of archivists around the world, we tip our Max Linder top hats both to the late, great historian and champion preservationist David Shepard, who passed at 76 of cancer on January 31, as well as the Save This Moment campaign by the Toronto International Film Festival. In the following photo, Mr. Shepard, founder of Film Preservation Associates, is flanked by Walt Disney Studios historian and author Russell Merritt on his left and Leonard Maltin on his right.
Mr. Maltin penned a tribute, Adieu To David Shepard, on his IndieWire website. Here is David with the prolific author and Photoplay Productions documentary film producer, not to mention the prime mover behind the restoration of Abel Gance's 1927 epic Napoleon (among numerous films), Kevin Brownlow.
Messrs Maltin, Brownlow and Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films and Flicker Alley share their fond memories of David Shepard.
Enjoy this clip of David Shepard talking film preservation in 2016.
Mr. Shepard's tireless efforts on behalf of the film legacy of Charlie Chaplin resulted in remarkable restorations, the first DVD release being Chaplin At Keystone: An International Collaboration of 34 Original Films.
Here's a promotional trailer for the DVD box set, narrated by co-producer Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films and Flicker Alley.
This was followed by the exceptional Blu-ray releases Chaplin's Essanay Comedies and Chaplin's Mutual Comedies.
All these sets involved going back to the gnarliest or gnarly nitrate film materials. As Mr. Shepard had exceptional recall of where negatives and prints existed in archives around the world, he was the right man for the restoration job.
These historic films were restored painstakingly, frame by frame, using the latest 21st century digital technology.
The Toronto International Film Festival produced a promotional short, The Film Prayer, based on a reverent guide for projectionists which is said to have been written by A.P. Hollis in 1920 and made available to all non-theatrical film distributors to promote careful handling of film. The Film Prayer could be found inside film cans, unfortunately a few decades before Monsieur Blogmeister's time! Everyone who has ever threaded an 8mm, 16mm or 35mm projector will relate. Thanks to Caroline Martel for posting this.
Narrated by Keanu Reeves, the Toronto International Film Festival video on The Film Prayer features evocative music by Menalon and is part of the Save This Moment campaign to fund the acquisition, restoration and archival storage of 35mm film prints.