So it's a very important screening. About halfway through the session, "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger" was slotted and by Academy rules, I had to vacate the room (stupid rule). In the meantime, I decided to use the adjacent facilities. While I was in there relieving myself, there was a loud bang on the door.
It was Signe Baumane – She urged me to look at the screening because something was terribly wrong with my print. I quickly, but carefully, zipped up and raced to the screening room along with two or three other friends who were alerting me to the screening disaster. And sure enough, my print of "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger" was horribly scratched, streaked, and had awful sound.
But what could I do? I had no backup print, and the Academy members had to see something, so I was powerless to stop the film.
At the subsequent break, everyone gave me their condolences of the unfortunate screening. Apparently, I'd mistakenly sent the Academy an old print that had been mangled at some previous film festival. But since I don't have access to a screening room, I'd sent it in blind.
This brings up an interesting issue. I told a few film historians about my Winsor McCay's "The Flying House" remake, and one famous archivist complained that the fact that I was cleaning the ancient 1921 film (by eliminating scratches and dust) ruined the film for him - he liked the damage to the film print.
But to me, it's a major distraction. If I'm watching a film, I don’t want to be reminded that it's a film I'm watching. I love getting lost in the magical world of imagination and the beautiful art.
And that's exactly what happened at the Academy screening – all the scratches and imperfections of the film stock took people out of the lovely story I was trying to tell in "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger".
But just to let you know, I was able to order a new print from Technicolor, and it will be shipped to the West coast for the Academy Screenings there.
Cross your fingers and toes!