Digital filmmaking has won over almost all of the professionals in the game to date. Even long time stalwarts like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese have dipped their toes in the digital waters, due to pure necessity. Yet there is still a vocal contingent in the business that still push for preservation of the canvas that started an art form. Two such filmmakers are Paul Thomas Anderson (who filmed The Master on 70mm and Nicolas Winding Refn, as they’re assisting with the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA)’s efforts to preserve 35mm negatives of lesser known, less mainstream films.
Deadline recently reported that the goal of $15K needs to be raised by May 30th, and the AGFA is looking to start their efforts by restoring the film The Astrologer, a 1975 science fiction film starring real life psychic Craig Denney. The campaign is being operated through IndieGoGo, and to Nicholas Winding Refn, this task is one that comes the closest to a religious calling in his chosen profession. When providing commentary on the American Genre Film Archive’s task at hand, he said:
"By any means necessary, we need to watch movies on film, because that’s why God created cinema. The American Genre Film Archive has begun a mission to preserve what I consider the greatest art form God has given us."
The AGFA’s specialties are off the less beaten path, with genres like sleaze and action that fit Nicholas Winding Refn’s aesthetic, and independent regional cinema, which definitely covers Paul Thomas Anderson’s efforts as a filmmaker. It’s no surprise to see such men as these putting themselves in league with such like-minded personalities as Tim and Karrie League (the founders of the equally committed to celluloid enjoyment Alamo Drafthouse), as their films speak towards the medium in contexts of the past. It’s also a good thing because to see filmmakers such as Refn and Anderson, members of the more modern master class, taking up efforts in film preservation just further echoes their inheritance of the legacy that Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg have continued to leave in the business they love.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s next film is Inherent Vice, which will open on December 12, 2014 (and is also shot on 35mm), while Nicolas Winding Refn’s next project is not so clearly defined. The last that was reported was that he was working on the female-centric horror film, I Walk With The Dead, but anything concrete seems elusive at this time.
In the meantime, you can support the effort to raise money towards the American Genre Film Archive’s restoration of The Astrologer, by visiting the IndieGoGo campaign page here. One can only hope that Anderson’s The Master is one such film that will be preserved for future viewings, as its native format lends a scope of grandeur and clarity that’s particular enough to require a viewing in its original 70mm aspect.