Shefter Named AMIA President
Archivists Set Goals For Restoring And Preserving Irreplaceable Assets
VANCOUVER, November 17—Milt Shefter has been elected president of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA). He succeeds Sam Kula of Canada. The announcement was made here at the 13th Annual Conference of AMIA. The non-profit association has some 700 individual and institutional members in more than 30 countries.
“Our goal is to ensure that the stories of our times are recorded as moving images on film and other media are preserved for posterity,” says Shefter. “Nothing less than the future financial, cultural and historical value of irreplaceable assets is at stake.”
Shefter notes that preservation was not a high-profile issue in the past because no one anticipated that movies and television programs would pay big dividends on future cable television channels, DVD and other home video distribution markets. He notes that many classic motion pictures and television programs, newsreels and other “visual cultural heritage” content were subsequently lost.
“The growing number of television channels and households with DVD players have created an insatiable appetite for content,” he says. “Everyone realizes that there are considerable financial incentives for preserving motion pictures and television programs. Our members also recognize that we have an obligation to restore and preserve aging films, not just commercial titles, for future generations.”
Joining Shefter on the AMIA Board of Directors is Gregory Lukow, chief of the Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound (M/BRS) Branch of the Library of Congress. They join incumbents Treasurer Rick Utley, V.P. Preservation Services for Kodak’s PRO-TEK Preservation Services; Secretary Lee Shoulders, Getty Images; Director Karen Cariani, WGBH Educational Foundation; Director Oksana Dykyj, Concordia University; and Director Jane Johnson, project coordinator of Moving Image Collections (M.I.C.).
The organization traces its roots to the late 1960s when representatives of moving image archives began meeting informally to exchange information and discuss ideas. The group was initially named The Film and Television Archives Advisory Committee. By the late 1980s, there were several hundred members representing more than 100 organizations. The name of the group was changed to AMIA in 1990, and the following year, voted to formalize as an individual-based professional association – the only one of its kind in the moving image archival field. Its year-round information sharing and educational outreach activities are headed by volunteers of 14 committees and task forces and nine interest groups. In addition to its annual conferences, AMIA will host the International Joint Technical Symposium in Toronto in June 2004. The organization’s administration is run by Managing Director Janice Simpson and her executive office staff in Los Angeles.
Shefter is the president and founder of Miljoy Ent. Inc., a Los Angeles-based consulting and project management firm that specializes in the media asset preservation. Serendipity put him on a career path as a preservationist. Shefter was working for a film production company on the East Coast of the United States when it was acquired by Republic Corporation. He was moved to Los Angeles to handle Republic’s Consolidated Film Industries (CFI) marketing and eventually became vice president of their video division. He later moved to Bonded Services International where he created a computerized tracking system that enabled studios and other content owners to inventory and track films, TV programs and other moving image assets they owned. Based on this experience, Shefter was then selected as director of Library Resources under contract to Paramount Pictures. His responsibilities included supervising the design and construction of a 40,000 square foot, environmentally controlled archive on the Hollywood studio lot, in an underground facility in Pennsylvania and in London, England. He also implemented a “protection-by-separation” strategy for archiving valuable and irreplaceable film and video assets owned by the studio. Shefter subsequently played a similar role with other major studios and other library content owning organizations in the U.S. and Europe.
Shefter has served on the National Film Preservation Board and is a former governor of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE.) He was elevated to Fellow Status and received SMPTE’s Outstanding Service Award. He is an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), and directs and narrates their annual awards show. He is also a member of the Writers Guild of America and of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
For additional information about AMIA, visit the organization’s website www.amianet.org.