Friday, May 9, 2014

Kodak's Eastman House gala

For most of my film career, since 1985, the cost of making a short of feature was extremely expensive.  Up to 40% up my budgets would go toward film-related costs - rostrum camera, film stock, processing, negative cutting, etc.  Plus, shipping big, heavy film reels was ultra-expensive. 

Since the digital revolution, I now spend only a small fraction of my budget on making digital prints.  I can now spend that extra money on other things, on making a better movie. 

However, becaues of this major shift in film production, the Kodak company is just a shell of its former self, and almost went into bankruptcy. 

Three years ago, I was asked to come up to Rochester, home of Eastman Kodak, and present my feature "Idiots and Angels" at the prestigious George Eastman House.  They were really great to me, they gave me a tour of the museum and the famous archives.

So, last year, when I decided to clear away all of my old 35mm and 16mm prints, I called the archives at the Eastman House and decided to store my prints in their highly-professional film vaults for safekeeping. 

This week, they had a fund raiser in NYC to get the firm on a more stable financial footing, and I was asked to be a presenter.  I didn't know what to expect - would it be a room full of geeky film archivists and rich financial tycoons? 

On the contrary - I discovered a number of my old friends.  Leonard Maltin was there to get a Lifetime prize, as was Alexander Payne ("Nebraska") who we hung out with last year at Telluride.   I sat next to Steven Soderbergh - he was very preoccupied with something, maybe his new film.  He dashed out after his speech before I could talk to him.

Then, I spotted my old friend, Paul Giamatti - 10 years ago, he did the voice for one of my favorite shorts, "The Fan and the Flower", and since then he has shot to fame and stardom (no doubt from his appearance in one of my films...)  He was very friendly, and we talked about old times and how he originally wanted to be an animator in Seattle, but got into the acting profession instead and never looked back.

I was very happy to help out the George Eastman House.  They're a great organization, and I wish them the greatest success.  If you're ever in Rochester, please visit the museum.  I give the museum an A+.

--Bill P.

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