‘Ulu‘ulu is pleased to welcome Sarah Smith as this year’s Roselani Media Preservation Intern! Sarah lives in Long Beach, California, where she received a BA in Film and Electronic Arts with an emphasis in film history and theory at California State University: Long Beach. She recently graduated from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation in Rochester, NY located at the George Eastman Museum where she became a certified film archivist and fell in love with handling nitrate film. She is currently finishing her Master’s in Library and Information Science with an emphasis in digital curation and archival science at the San Jose State University in California.
We asked Sarah a few questions to learn more about her.
Could you please share a little about your Master’s Thesis on cataloguing systems in motion picture archives?
Something unique about my Master’s degree is that I am choosing to do a thesis. Most students in my program decide to do a portfolio which takes a semester, but I wanted a challenge. For my thesis I will be exploring the various cataloging systems in motion picture archives and how they have an overall lack of standards. This lack of standards makes it impossible to share information easily amongst one another, or with the general public. I will be using a sample group of archives choosing one of each type of archive in the United States: a regional archive, a museum affiliated archive, a government run archive, a film studio archive, and an archive attached to an educational institution. I will be done with my classes in the fall and hope to start my thesis next Spring!
What brought you here to ‘Ulu‘ulu? What are some of the things you’re hoping to learn during your internship with us?
After I finished up my program at Selznick I wanted to experience a different type of archive. George Eastman is a large established archive that has a variety of types of collections. Its mission is also connected to the Museum. ‘Ulu’ulu appealed to me because it was a regional archive in a very different climate than George Eastman, and it had many different resources. ‘Ulu’ulu was going to be a challenge for me, hence an amazing learning experience. When I received the internship offer I said yes immediately. I was scared to leave home again, but just being here the last two weeks has shown me I made the best decision for myself as a film archivist, and will definitely help me further my career. Throughout my experience here I hope to learn to work in a completely new archival setting with different types of tools at my disposal. I will be inspecting more 16mm film than I did at George Eastman, and I hope to feel just as comfortable working with it as I do 35mm. I also will be working with a new cataloging system, and I cannot wait to separate myself from my library and George Eastman cataloging experiences and learn another archive’s system. By the end of my internship I feel confident that all of these goals will be met. I am into my second week here and I have already started falling in love with 16mm and how ‘Ulu’ulu functions as a regional archive.
What are you working on at ‘Ulu‘ulu ? What are your career goals?
My main task at ‘Ulu’ulu is working with a large donation of film from Hawaiian Airlines. It is mostly promotional films made in the 1970s and 80s about new planes that were being promoted at the time, and the airline itself. I will also be working with and performing quality checks on a group of digital files that are completely in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language)! My experience at the archive is actually helping me work towards my future career goal, which is to be a collection manager, hopefully managing nitrate film. As a collection manager I would oversee a specific collection in an archive, such as the acetate or nitrate film collections. This includes the management of the archive’s vaults temperature and humidity, what is in the collection, and what goes in and out of the vault at all times. A collection manager also oversees those who directly work with items in that collection. At ‘Ulu’ulu I am helping taking notes about the temperature and humidity of the vaults, and I am inspecting the Hawaiian Airlines 16mm and 35mm film they have in their collection and cataloging them. At the end of my internship I will write a report to make suggestions for the collection and archive. This is collection management experience on a small scale.
So you’ve been here for a week or two now, what are you enjoying most about Hawai‘i?
My short time in Oahu has been an adventure. I haven’t spent much time exploring because working 40 hours a week makes me a little tired, but the few times I have been out have been a blast! I have spent a little time in Honolulu exploring Chinatown and the night scene, but the beauty of the North Shore is my favorite part of Oahu. My greatest adventure was my first weekend on the island. I spent a few hours at the Dole Plantation making sure I got a Dole Whip, my favorite dessert at Disneyland. It was amazing to have it at the plantation, and was high on my Oahu “bucket list.” The number one on this list was swimming with a green sea turtle. After the Dole Plantation I drove up to Ali’i Beach Park in Haleiwa on the North Shore. Here I spent a little time swimming in the ocean for the first time and to my surprise a sea turtle swam right along side me. That has to be my favorite memory so far. I am planning on spending some more time with the sea turtles, going to Waikiki beach, and visiting Pearl Harbor before I leave. I am thankful that this internship has given me opportunities to not only grow as a film archivist, but to meet people and also do things that I might never have gotten the chance to do without participating in it.