Preservation Now is a project started by Falmouth University student Sam Smith in 2021 with the aim of raising awareness of the need for film preservation and accessibility to film restoration.
The project is made up of two films.
Lost Narratives: Taking Steps
The first film of Preservation Now is an experimental restoration of a 3-minute scene from Charlie Chapin’s The Pawnshop (1916), entitled 'Taking Steps’ released on 8mm for home viewing in 1969 by Walton Film. The film begins as a complete digital restoration that lessens as the film progresses, eventually deteriorating into a state of total decay. The emblematic Tramp’s decay displays the fragility of film if left unprotected. The lack of closure due to decay creates a loss of narrative to the ending of the film.
The second film is a digital scan of the 8mm ‘Taking Steps’, produced using a Kodak Mini Digital Film Scanner, with the scanning apparatus visible in the frame. This uncropped view, with both the scanner and film itself permanently on show, places the film within a digital context. The physical 8mm film now exists in a digital space, one that allows the film to be exhibited in new and more accessible ways. The film is displayed in 9:16 aspect ratio to be exhibited on a smartphone.
Sam Smith is an experimental filmmaker and BA(Hons) undergraduate at Falmouth University. Previously directing the experimental film Houses in Motion (2020), he has an interest in the relationship between the use of analogue and digital film technologies. His interest in film preservation began after writing his dissertation on accessibility to restored cinema.
Using this film, social media platforms, and this website, Preservation Now provides free and accessible information surrounding film preservation and restoration with the hope to create a much greater public awareness for this need.