One of the unforeseen consequences of launching nearly my whole library of films (all the best ones, anyway) on Reelhouse and IndieFlix over the past few weeks is that my office a bit of a disaster area. You see, to launch these films, I not only needed the video files, but lots of stills, press kits, lists of festivals, etc. To get those I had to dig through boxes of film assets, some fifteen years old. It reminded me of an important lesson in filmmaking: Save EVERYTHING.
Any asset you bothered to create, you have to save. There’s no getting it back once you’ve deleted it or thrown out the old DVD-Rs. …And having a particular asset may just be the difference between being able to release a film or not. So save everything. Even your bad films that you never want to show anyone ever…save the assets from those too. You never know. Some bit player could be a star one day. Or you may want to play the video on a TV set in some other movie to show the characters are watching a really bad movie. Whatever. Save it all. The minute you throw something out, you’re going to need it again.
After 15 years of filmmaking, I have BOXES of assets. I have 35mm film elements, which, lets face it will never be needed again unless I destroy them in which case they’ll instantly become more valuable than the Zapruter tapes. I also have hard drives, CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, all manner of video tapes from VHS to HDCAM-SR, zip drives, optical disks, DA-88 tapes, 3.5-inch floppies, even film slides! It’s like a museum. Some of these formats are essentially unplayable without the right device, so I’ve even started archiving those, too. (3.5-inch floppy drive and old IDE hard drive adapter, check. Zip drive? I might have to hit eBay for one someday.) Lately, I’m getting in the habit of transferring the old stuff to new formats as the platforms become obsolete. Yes, it feels like a big waste of time. But I’m sure I’ll need it all someday.
Don’t be as obsessive as I am about this, please. I wouldn’t want to have that on my head. But as you wrap up projects, do archive everything somewhere you can find it again. Because you’re going to need it eventually.