Shefter leads AMIA to preserve “Stories of Our Times”

The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), with 700 members in more than 30 countries, has chosen Milt Shefter — a veteran film preservationist — as its new president.

Shefter is the president and founder of Miljoy, a Los Angeles-based consulting and project management firm that specializes in media asset preservation. Once an archivist at Paramount Pictures, Shefter serves on the National Film Preservation Board and is a former governor of SMPTE.

“Our goal is to ensure that the stories of our times recorded as moving images on film and other media are preserved for posterity,” said Shefter. “Nothing less than the future financial, cultural and historical value of irreplaceable assets is at stake.”

Shefter said that preservation was not a high-profile issue in the past because no one anticipated that movies and television programs would pay big dividends on future cable television channels, DVD and other home video distribution markets. He noted that many classic motion pictures and television programs, newsreels and other “visual cultural heritage” content were subsequently lost.

“The growing number of television channels and households with DVD players have created an insatiable appetite for content,” he said. “Everyone realizes that there are considerable financial incentives for preserving motion pictures and television programs. Our members also recognize that we have an obligation to restore and preserve aging films, not just commercial titles, for future generations.”

AMIA began in the late 1960s when representatives of moving image archives began meeting informally to exchange information and discuss ideas. The group was initially named The Film and Television Archives Advisory Committee. By the late 1980s, there were several hundred members representing more than 100 organizations. The name of the group was changed to AMIA in 1990, and the following year, voted to formalize as an individual-based professional association. It’s the only one of its kind in the moving image archival field.

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