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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, May 2002

By Tom White


William Faulkner once wrote, “The past is not dead. It’s not even past” to underscore the ineluctability of history and the looming presence of the past. We might arguably say the same about our art form—how we capture what unfolds before us, how we turn that raw material into a story, then history, and how we can keep it all alive for future generations to behold.

The Young and the Dead, the new film by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini that premieres on HBO on May 12, profiles the Hollywood Forever Cemetary, where an enterprising young team of cemeterians has fashioned a new way of leaving this world and bringing the final passage into the 21st century—through custom-made documentaries about the dearly departed. Yes, on video kiosks throughout the cemetery grounds—and on the Hollywood Forever website—you can click on the name of the deceased of your choice and watch that person’s life flash slowly before your eyes.

The Hollywood Forever team has devised new ways of keeping memory and our stories alive for time immemorial. As for the actual material on which we document stories, the preservation industry has toiled long and hard to extend the life of works on film which are deteriorating. In this issue, Bob Fisher shares just a few ways in which documentary makers have preserved their work successfully for the next generation of artists and viewers to behold. Fisher also talks to preservationist Rick Utley of the Protek Vault about ways we can start to think about saving our work.

Filmmaker and teacher Marina Goldovskaya has devoted part of her livelihood to filming documentary filmmakers—recording the words and wisdom of such giants as Albert Maysles, Richard Leacock, Robert Drew, DA Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus, and Alan Berliner. These individuals have all participated in Goldovskaya’s Documentary Salon program at University of California, Los Angeles. Ed Carter, who heads the IDA/Academy Documentary Archive, is undertaking a similar oral history project with documentary makers, under his own auspices and with the blessing of the IDA.

And as we look at new ways to preserve the past and present, we also look at the future. This issue, we launch a new column, “Doc Tech,” to lend some consistency to our coverage of new technologies in the filmmaking process. In this inaugural column, Patricia Troy reports on QuickTime, a means of delivering, viewing and streaming content via computer. Elsewhere in the issue, in Tales from the Trenches, filmmaker Peter von Puttkamer talks about the many different shooting formats he used—Digital Betacam 16x9 Widescreen, DV-cam, 16mm Bolex, Mini-DV and Digital 8mm Nightvision—to achieve the effect he desired in telling the story of people who hunt for legendary and mythical creatures.

As George Harrison said, “Yesterday, today was tomorrow, and tomorrow, today will be yesterday.”


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White