BPS 331: Can Martin Scorsese Save Cinema? with Margaret Bodde

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Margaret Bodde. How you doin Margaret?

Margaret Bodde 0:23
I'm doing great Alex, it's so great to be here.

Alex Ferrari 0:26
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm excited to have you on because we're gonna be talking about film restoration and the work you're doing at the Film Foundation. And as well as some others, you do you have a little side hustle that you do as well, besides film restorations, we'll talk about that as well. But the first question I have for you is how did you get started in the business?

Margaret Bodde 0:46
That's a really great question. Because, you know, looking back, it all seems so well planned. But it was really just a random set of circumstances. I did go to film school, which is, you know, kind of rare in this business. Usually everyone studied history, or politics or global studies. But I studied film, and I, my first job out of school, was at the Library of Congress. And I was doing archival work at the Library of Congress, I was I was making photographs from either their glass negatives or nitrate negatives, their, their incredible photographic collection that included like I said, glass negatives from Matthew Brady, to you know, nitrate, you know, four by fours and two by twos that were created during the WPA era. And I remember I was, I was making both copy what they called copy prints, this is in the days of the old fashioned photographic lab, where you would, you know, you know, expose the paper and then process it and all these wonderful chemicals that I breathed for about two years. And what happened was, I became, it was like a master's degree in history, in exposure in photography, and also by extension in film. And so that was, that was an amazing milestone in my career that I hadn't intended really necessarily as, as what I wanted to do. And then from there, I went to independent film exhibition, I worked at a movie theater, we booked independent films. And so I had the exhibition side of it. And then I went to work, I moved to New York, and started work for a fledgling company called Miramax. And I was doing independent film, distribution and marketing. And there were about 20 people at the company at that time. So it's early days. And then and I, I worked there for a couple of years. And then I moved into this kind of miracle where I got a call from a colleague who said, You wouldn't want to work for Martin Scorsese, would you? Would you want to be his assistant? And I was like, I would sweep a floor for that guy like that was, you know, what a question. So it was, like I said, this kind of random set of circumstances that just now kind of all add up and make sense. But at the time, it was just, you know, you get the jobs you can get that you're interested in.

Alex Ferrari 3:21
Yeah, exactly. Like, I mean, how many filmmakers around the world with like, Hey, would you like to, to work with Martin Scorsese? Can you imagine?

Margaret Bodde 3:22
Doing anything doing anything right?

Alex Ferrari 3:26
Absolutely anything. So that brings me to my So my next question. I mean, you got to work with him on some some nice early films, but early 90s films, like the age of innocence, which I absolutely adore, I was just obsessed with age of innocence when it came out. And Casino. So I'm assuming as an assistant working with him, what did you see on set? Like? How would I have to ask you the question that every filmmaker listening wants to know, when you first walked in and met Martin Scorsese for the first time? What was going through your head? How did you deal with it? How did you? I mean, because essentially, even even in the early 90s, he was still, he was already a legend. At that point.

Margaret Bodde 4:15
He was absolutely a legend. I mean, he had just made I mean, you could fill us with 1990. Right. And then I started working for him on my first night, my first night on the job was the premiere of cake fear. So, you know, it's, it's just, he was, he was to me, he was the top of the mountain, you know, I mean, he was it, because he had also started the film foundation in 1990. And when I met with him, which I'll never forget, he lived at the time at the Metropolitan towers on 57th Street. And so I literally, it's like, I went up, you know, to the I went up to like, you know, Mount Olympus Exactly. And I, I remember, you know, obviously I was I was nervous But I also was just, I had kind of the attitude of like, I just want to meet this man who has made films that meant so much to me and so many people. So it was really kind of an experience of a lifetime. I thought, whatever happened with the job, I kind of thought this was this wonderful opportunity to meet this, to meet this person. And when I met him, we just really hit it off. He's, he's so warm, he's so smart. He's so funny. He's really like, just an easy person to talk to and get to know. And one of the things that stood out for him with me, was, Oh, so you went to film school, you know about film, you know about film history, we just started this foundation, maybe you can help with that. And so, you know, that was, to me, that was part of this glorious package, you know, of just, you know, being able to work with someone who's an absolute master of the craft, and the art of filmmaking, and someone who cares about other people's films, and also cares about the audience. And, and making sure that, you know, the continuum of film history is available to filmmakers today, and in the future, who can look back on the past films and be as inspired by them as Marty has been.

Alex Ferrari 6:22
That's remarkable. So when you are so you're working on age of innocence, or casino, what? How do you see him working? What do you mean? I'm assuming you're trying to take as much in as you can, when you're watching him. Were you on set watching him work?

Margaret Bodde 6:36
Yeah, yeah. And you are taking as you're taking it all in, but you know, everyone on that set has this mission. Right. And, you know, there, you don't have a lot of time for reflection. So you're not necessarily, you know, kind of absorbing and processing, you're just kind of like running from like, as an assistant, especially you're running from one task to the next. And your mind is has to be very sharply focused on, you know, whatever he has, you know, needs you to do has asked you to do whatever communication you have to give to the various different department heads. So I'm not like I wasn't ever involved in like the making of the film, it was just there to support all the things that he needed. But the set is an extraordinary place to be with Marty, because it's so it's such a pure expression of filmmaking, where it's all about, what do we need? How do we get it? He's brilliant, about, you know, creating an environment where the actors feel like, it's all about what they need to do, where the DP feels like, it's all about what he or she needs to do. Everyone feels like they're the most important person in that process. And it's just it's, it's kind of a mean, you know, not to be, you know, have a have drank the Kool Aid, I will admit to that. But it is like kind of a sacred place. It's really exciting place to be, but it's very much there's nothing frivolous about it.

Alex Ferrari 8:10
Yeah, it seems to be I mean, I've any filmmaker worth their salt has studied Marty's work over the years. I mean, and every documentary, I mean, I remember working at a video store in the 80s and early 90s. And I was I saw Goodfellas in the theater multiple times. I mean, and you just sit there and you wait for any making of document back in the day when there wasn't any information about i my first laser disc was raging bull. Because I wanted to hear I wanted to hear Marty's commentary on things like that is fascinating.

Margaret Bodde 8:43
There was an early laser disc of the Last Waltz, I remember, they came out like in the early like, mid 80s, early 80s. And I remember just, you know, I had seen the Last Waltz is ageing me quite a bit. But I had seen the Last Waltz when I was like in, in high school. And I remember just being it was something very special. I couldn't really articulate it. because not a lot of people were making documentaries in that way that weren't Verity. You know, I mean, you think about like Woodstock. You're capturing everything. And that's, that was really what was happening with music documentary. At that time. And then I remember the Last Waltz felt like a film. Right. And I and I remember thinking like, that's interesting.

Alex Ferrari 9:32
What really happened? What's, what is he doing differently than everybody else's? And didn't he also worked on Woodstock as an editor?

Margaret Bodde 9:38
He was I think he was a assistant director, and I think he did some editing. Yeah, but Michael Wadleigh you know, was the director of that film and both Marty and that's where Marty and film I think, first work together. Almost gunmaker was an editor on Woodstock and you know, who knew back in the day You know, 72 or whenever that can't remember the exact year of Woodstock, you know, who knew that that would create this? You know, legendary partnership?

Alex Ferrari 9:38
That I mean, is there ever been a partnership like that in the history of film that I can think of an editor that's she's edited everything he's done.

Margaret Bodde 10:18
She has edited everything from Raging Bull on so triple 98 on yeah.

Alex Ferrari 10:24
That's a 42 year.

Margaret Bodde 10:29
A lot of a lot of masterpieces in there.

Alex Ferrari 10:31
Oh, my God, to say the least. Now, tell me about the work you're doing in the film foundation. What is the film foundation?

Margaret Bodde 10:38
Well, the film Foundation was created in 1990. And it really grew out of advocacy that Marty had already been involved in, in the after raging bull in the in 1980 81. Era, Marty was he started a campaign to get to encourage Kodak to create a low fade color film stock. And in fact, one of the reasons that Marty made Raging Bull on Black and White was because he didn't want it to fade in 10 years. And he was, you know, aware of every filmmaker wants their film to last, right, that's, that's the goal, you're putting, you're putting a workout into the world, and you don't want it to go away, you don't want it to look like, you know, diminished, you know, in terms of color and, and degradation. After you know, five or 10 or 15 years, you hope that it will survive the test of time, as they say. And so he decided to use black and white, for Raging Bull for you know, artistic reasons, but also for that practical reason. And so, after the film was released, he used the press tour in Europe and all over the world to talk about this issue of color, color film stock fading. And thankfully, Kodak did create a low, low fade, LPP stock, I believe it's called that that would that would last if it was properly cared for. It would it would last for 50 to 100 years. With a stable color, the color of the color wouldn't change over time. So he was always thinking about film, and the history of film, and how much it meant to him, and how much it meant to his fellow filmmakers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and Francis Coppola, Stanley Kubrick at the time. So Marty got these galvanized these filmmakers, and came together and said, Look, we'll be so much more impactful if we formed this organization. And if we use our collective power, our collective clout to go to the studios to talk about working in partnership with these archives, these film archives that are in the nonprofit world, who have been collecting negatives cast off material over the decades. And let's try to build a bridge. So these two important parts of the film world can work together to preserve films for the future. And I don't think that there was a real clear cut concrete plan of how this would get done. But it was definitely agreed, you know, with this group and with with many other people in the field, that something needed to be done. Something needed to be done because, you know, Marty talks about this story a lot were in the 1970s when he was living in Los Angeles. He went to a screening at LACMA and it was a it was a fox retrospective. And on the particular night that Marty remembers there was a double feature. Marty went to LACMA to see a double feature of Niagara And The Seven Year Itch, okay. And The Seven Year Itch came, the projectionist put up the put up the film print, and it came on screen and the entire Marty describes the entire audience erupted with booze because the film The print had faded to pink. So everything everything looked magenta, there was no there was no reflection of what the film was supposed to look like. So you couldn't see like the actor's face you couldn't see what the colors of the set and what what the color design was supposed to look like. And you know, you think about it, that was maybe 20 years at most, after the film came out. No more than 20 years. So you know, the real is Asian hit Martin and many other film scholars and filmmakers and people who just care about cinema. If this is happening to a huge hit with Marilyn Monroe, right? What's happening to silent films, what's happening to industrial films or, you know, documentaries that were made, we can't just lose all this, you know, at that point, you know, 80 80 years of film, and of our culture. So, the, the idea was, let's create an organization that can advocate for film preservation, and restoration. And also for this is as important as that is for getting these films back out to the public. Because if people, if young people don't know about films from the past, if they don't see them, then what's the motivation to preserve them? So, you know, between the preservation program that we created the film Foundation, and the education program, we have a curriculum that teaches young people, the language of film, the unique language of how stories are told visually. And then, and then access, you know, we make sure that the films that we the films that we help fund the restoration of and, and make sure are preserved, get out to the world through festivals, archives, screenings on you know, Turner Classic Movies and other outlets, and also our great partnerships with places like criterion channel, and the Criterion Collection, and movie, and many other organizations and companies around the around the world that really present film in what is a very kind of like, wonderful, celebratory and respectful way, making sure that people see the films without commercial interruption, and the way that the directors intended them to be seen.

Alex Ferrari 17:06
By means you're doing God's work. I mean, this is this is is a very, very important mission. And I'm so glad that Marty, I think it's it needed to be someone like Marty, to be able to spearhead this, you need to be someone with his kind of gravitas to to let everybody knows, hey, wait a minute, we we need to keep an eye on this. What I always found fascinating about film preservation, is that it is a constant moving target. It never it never said so it's unlike the pyramids, that will be around for 3000 years. I mean, stone is stone. But film even today, we still have to preserve it and just continue to move it as technology changes. So even film stock today, in 500 years, we don't know if film stocks going to be the way these things are projected. If that's projection still around, is it going to be on a hard drive? And if it is going to be on a hard drive? How long will the hard drive live last before it crashes? How many so it's a constant. It's a never ending. So just because you you restore a film today, you're thinking, okay, in 30 years, or 20 years or five, we have to check to see where it is. And we have to keep moving. The ball is almost like a game of hot potato, you constantly have to keep moving it along history are along the future. Is that correct?

Margaret Bodde 18:25
Alex, you're hired. I mean, you have it, you have it, you hit the nail on the head. Because, you know, we were lucky that we had this technology for what 120 years or so a film history where yes, the film stock changed over that time. But it was still using light and emulsion to capture life to capture whatever you want to create and put in front of the camera. And we were also very lucky that that even as ephemeral and fragile as film is and has been. We still have films from the silent era. Best, then you can run through a projector, you can also hold it up and you can see oh, yeah, there's people dancing. And then oh, there's a tinge of blue. You know, old films can still be viewed. The issue with digital and we all know Digital's is wonderful innovation. You know, it's allowed a lot of filmmakers who haven't been represented in the past to make films and get their stories out there. And that's vital. That's that's, that's an infusion of energy into the into the whole art form. But the big butt on that is Digital's untested in terms of the longevity of digital and the changes in digital technology. I don't have to tell you are just I mean the cycle is spinning. so fast. Do you remember D-1 tape?

Alex Ferrari 20:03
Of course I'm older than I look, Margaret. Well, yeah, I remember D-1 tape. I remember D-2 tape. I remember D-3 quarter inch or one inch or two inch I edited, I edited one inch between reel to reel back in the day. Yeah.

Margaret Bodde 20:18
So you think about the span, the lifespan of digital is, what 30 years maybe so far, how many formats have there been in that really short period of time. So we will be the Archivist of the future and the present are just going to be unraveling that you've got to make sure that you've got the hardware that will play back those formats. You've got to be able to, you know, migrate that digital data now. Every I mean, they recommend every six months. I mean, but you know, filmmakers? Yeah. And filmmakers are, you know, you will, you know, you know, well, when you make a film, you're just on to your next project. You know, most filmmakers don't have the time to kind of like, well, let me manage all my data from my last five projects. I'll take a couple of months here to do that. You know, it's, it's, it's its own challenge. And I don't think that that maybe the industry, maybe the studios, you know, have a handle on that. And they're managing their assets, you know, because they have the budgets for it.

Alex Ferrari 21:27
And there's so and it's also money now, they realize that that's ever ending, you know, how many how many versions of Star Wars have I purchased, how many versions of Godfather, every time there's a new version, and the rest of you buy a new platform. So from VHS to LaserDisc to DVD to blu ray, and digital, it's constant. So that's where the money is, I think the studio's finally caught up with like, oh, wait, there's money to be made here.

Margaret Bodde 21:50
That was key. That was key, having this, what they call, monetized, right, having having the classic film libraries and collections that the studio's had having another outlet. And another way to, like you said, package and release on home, home, video, home, home video, laser, just DVD, you know, streaming now, those that we were so lucky that those formats demanded the best possible resolution, and audiences demanded the best possible resolution. So you did have to go back to the original camera negative, you did have to go back into the vaults, and take a look at your assets and see, if you had the original camera negative, if you didn't have the original camera negative, what were the best elements that you could find? So that those DVDs are that, you know, whether it's an SD, HD, 4k, whatever the format is, you're working from, you know, the best possible source for that for that transfer. And I think we were very lucky that there was that robust home entertainment market in the in the 1990s, and the 2000s. And now with streaming, it's, it's a different, it's a different series, I think, yes, unfortunately, because of the business because it is a business and an art for you know, there's a different economic model now. And it might be harder to, you know, justify, although I don't want to use that word, but a vast expenditure of money on a single title that may not make that back. I mean, we, of course, yeah, that's what we do all day, you know, we advocate for that, and we try to find ways to, you know, to make that as appealing as possible for studios and other rights holders. Because, you know, we think we think of something like film, and this is true, and with books and paintings and, you know, other art forms, music and theatre, you know, people can't really own it. Right, you're a bit of a custodian.

Alex Ferrari 24:14
We can't own anything. We're only on the earth for a certain amount of time. So even land you eventually have to give it to somebody else, just like we're just here for a moment of time.

Margaret Bodde 24:22
So if you have let's say, let's say what's your favorite film, Alex?

Alex Ferrari 24:25
Oh god, I love Shawshank Redemption. I love Shawshank Redemption.

Margaret Bodde 24:30
Okay, so let's say you obtain the rights to Shawshank Redemption, right? You you know you have the rights to it. But you know, I would argue that you are also holding it for the rest of us to alright,

Alex Ferrari 24:45
I'm not going to put it if I bought it like imagine if I got the rights to Shawshank I would like I'm putting it in my vault only I can see it. All copies have taken off the shelves. No one could ever see it again. No, you're a custodian of art for the work for the good of The populace the good of the world. That's what you should that's how film should be. And arguably, that's how studios should be as well. But with them, it's a business now, because it's the you know, as you know, the corporations have taken over the main studios it before it was run by filmmakers. And now it's more more corporate.

Margaret Bodde 25:18
Yeah. I mean, it's always been a business. And I think that's part of the challenge, I think with the film with film as an art form and a commercial. I won't say product, but as a commercial endeavor, right? films were made for the weekend and the months that they could be in the theaters. And then really, until television, there was no, there was no you maybe there would be a rerelease 10 years later

Alex Ferrari 25:48
Of the hit ones.

Margaret Bodde 25:49
Of the hit ones Yeah! but what about the every b picture? And you know, until television came along, it was considered, you know, disposable as a strong word, but it was considered that's an old movie, what do we what are we putting out? You know, next weekend, what are we putting out next year. And that, and that is just by nature, the way that the movie business, you know, works, and it makes sense, because, you know, your profits are only in the future, and only on your current films, everything is pretty diminished once it's made its initial run. So yeah, yeah, these are the challenges, I think in terms of trying to, you know, balance, you know, film, the high minded notion that film is an art form and needs to be protected and preserved. And the reality of, you can't spend a million dollars restoring one film, you know, that's not no one's gonna, you know, no one's gonna, it's not really, you know, necessary most of the time. And it's not something that a studio is going to put that kind of money in. So we do what we can, and we make sure that we try to get both the kind of the high minded advocacy and awareness out there and then also work practically to try to make sure that these as many films that can be restored in any given year, can get restored.

Alex Ferrari 27:15
And I've heard lately that there is you work with film and films from 90s From 1990s. And back from what I understand from your, from my research, but there's an issue now with movies created in the 80s that now the best quality versions of them are VHS tapes, like that's all the negatives are gone, because they were so disposable in those kinds of be movies and you know, these kinds of things. But it is still cinema. So I know there's a lot of organizations trying to even save VHS tapes, because that's or laser disc might be the best version of it out there. So it is a problem. It is a pro we're losing our we're losing movies every day.

Margaret Bodde 27:59
And you know, it's interesting, because you know, the 80s were this I mean, especially with what you do, right, the 80s were this kind of the golden era of independent filmmaking. That's what it is. Yeah. 80s and 90s. And that's when you know Jane Campion and Spike Lee and John Sayles and Mira Nair year, you know, all these amid Jim Jarmusch. All these amazing independent filmmakers that you think of as these you know, kind of Legends right? They were making movies for small companies. And there were a lot of very successful small companies like cynic calm and that's when Miramax started and new line you know, new world I mean, we could probably if I dig back in my memory banks I could think of even more I mean even even you know Sony Pictures. Sony Pictures, classics, no, Orion,

Alex Ferrari 28:54
Ohh Orion.Let's not forget cannon.

Margaret Bodde 28:57
And cannon right. And trauma.

Alex Ferrari 28:59
Oh, yeah can't forget.

Margaret Bodde 29:03
So, you know, and when those companies then no longer, you know, we're no longer in business. You know, those collections. It's unclear, you know, where they bought, who bought them? And I've talked to, you know, so many filmmakers who say, I don't know where my elements are, for that hit for that, for that independent film hit that I that I made in, you know, in the mid 80s. You know, and they have maybe a 60 millimeter print of it. You know, if they're lucky, they have a 35 millimeter print of the film. But those are, it's like detective work. You have to follow you have to trace everything back, you know, was it at a lab that closed did then those materials go to an archive, hopefully they were saved, and they're in an archive? It was that was that collection then sold outright to like maybe a television company. You have to trace all those things back and I Do you think that archivists, you know, do have a certain kind of detective gene that they that they tap into where they track these films down, I'll tell you a story. And interesting is just one example of many, when we work very closely with all the different archives in the US and around the world, and we have a great partnership with the UCLA Film and Television Archive. And at the time, there was an archivist working at UCLA, Ross Lippmann. And he was, as they often do, he was he was made aware that, you know, got a call from a lab, we're closing, we're getting rid of all the stuff here, you got today to come by, and find whatever you want pick it up. So he and his team go over to the lab, and they're looking through the material. And there's all these elements, all these film elements, and some of them have proper labeling, many of them don't. And he finds on the label, the name of a of a New York based producer. And he just thought, you know, that guy produced the one film that Barbara Lowden made, Wanda, that she that she starred in directed, wrote and directed, and it's, it's considered this kind of independent film, you know, milestone and independent cinema, and, you know, feminist, you know, films made by my women. So, you know, he takes it, he puts all these elements in his trunk, it turns out, this was the original negative for the film, Wanda, and were it not for the archivist, the knowledge that this archivist had the kind of random serendipity of, you know, the lab thankfully, calls the archive materials are gathered thrown into his trunk, and you contact the film foundation, that was one of the films that they asked us to support the restoration of in that given year. And, you know, now that film has inspired so many people who hadn't, they would never be able to see that film in the way that that it exists now restored, and saved for filmmakers and audiences to, to, you know, getting inspiration and and joy from these films.

Alex Ferrari 32:29
Yeah, it's, it's remarkable. I know, there's a movie that Marty found. At least the legend goes, there was a wonderful film, called I Am Cuba. years ago. I'm Cuban, of Cuban descent. So I was very interested in watching that film. And then it was released for criterion, I think it really once and then really released the criterion. And it was him and Francis, who presented the film. And they said, I remember it, I remember the when it came out, everyone's like, if this movie would have come out, when it was made, it would have changed cinema. Like it would have skewed cinema in a certain direction. Like there are those landmark films that when once that comes like, well, everything's changed. And it was in it was, I think it was found in in a closet somewhere, I don't know in an archive somewhere in a salt mine somewhere. And when they saw it, it was just a game changer and any filmmaker listening if you haven't seen IQ, but please go out and see if Cuba I mean, PT Anderson, you know, he, he borrowed a very famous shot from that. And he says, I was inspired by this shot and I am Cuba, and the stuff that they did in a film like that, like you're looking back, you're like, they're running around with 100 pound camera. And it looks like it's a Steadicam, but it isn't. How do they do that? How do they hang the camera over these two? Like, this is this is cinema at its best. And but it was lost was gone?

Margaret Bodde 34:02
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I'm glad you brought that up. Because, you know, people, you know, filmmakers, and there's not many of them, right filmmakers like Marty and Francis Ford Coppola. Putting attention putting a spotlight on the has been a really crucial part of this whole movement. Right, the film, preservation and appreciation movement, you have filmmakers who are beloved and masters, putting a spotlight on a film like I am Cuba, or a film, like, you know, even even a big popular film, like, I think when when Marty and Steven Spielberg, I think did the first Lawrence of Arabia restoration way back in the photochemical era. And I remember going to the Ziegfeld and watching it on that big screen. I had never seen Lawrence of Arabia. And and and I just you know, I remember One of the main reasons I went to see it was I knew that like Martin Scorsese, a filmmaker that I love who I just if he likes this film, I want to go see it. And it's obviously a masterpiece. So directors, filmmakers who, you know, are generous in that way. And I think they instinctively are because, you know, when something hits you in a profound way, you want to share that. And I think if the film Foundation has been successful over these years, I think that's, that's, it's really all because of Marty, and the other directors on the board, who have generously shared their enthusiasm for these films and their, and their dedication to making sure I mean, they have a righteous anger about like, you know, let's not lose these films. You know, we don't we don't know who is going to be hit by these films and inspired in the future. And it's a it's a, it's a deep well, that I think we have to make sure, you know, stays available for filmmakers who, you know, are working today and who are going to be working in the future.

Alex Ferrari 36:11
Exactly. I mean, how many painters and artists have been inspired by Van Gogh or Basquiat, or Pollock or any of these, like, just imagine if Van Gogh would have never been found? Like, thank God, he made 900 of those things, just kept making them and no one bought them, but he just kept making them because he had to because he was an artist. But imagine if that was all lost in a fire once, and no one would have known about Van Gogh, what a loss to humanity. That would be how you look at it.

Margaret Bodde 36:39
Yeah. And I think it's also kind of interesting, because film inspires filmmakers. But it also inspires painters and musicians and dancers, and scientists, and you know, I mean, and, and yeah, because I think if you, if you look at art, and cinema, art, and you know, fine art, if you look at it as a transcendent experience. I mean, it's really one of the things that makes life worth living. You know, I mean, we transcend our daily lives, when we read a book, or when we look at a painting, or when we watch a great film, and when we, you know, experience a dance that we're seeing, you know, performed, these are things that take us out of the daily, you know, grind of, you know, working and, you know, I mean, I think that we have to remember that there are so many important issues in the world. But this is this is a vital thing that we want to really keep alive and keep available to people, because it's what kind of propels us into the future in a in a kind of renewed way?

Alex Ferrari 37:54
Well, there's no, there's no question because then there's a conversation about the arts, you know, that's the first thing they cut at school, when the budgets gonna look, but art is what makes your mind think what creates it's what creates imagination, and that is what creates innovation. In our in our in humanity without the great scientific, or the Sci Fi books of HG Wells, a lot of that has come true. Yeah, we don't have a time machine yet. But there's a lot of concepts that that were laid out there that were inspired, inspired scientists, and they wanted to go and then I mean, in many of the filmmakers we spoke about today have inspired so many scientists, so many artists, so many people in the world. Art is something that needs to be preserved and needs to be protected. And even if there isn't a monetary reward right away, there's a much greater reward, which is the culture of it. And I always tell people, when I when I try to inspire filmmakers to go out and make their films, I go, you have no idea who you are going to touch, what your film your film might be seen by 10 people, but one of those 10 People might go off and make the great cinematic masterpiece or might go off and become that doctor because of the story that you're telling her or go off and save lives to change. You have no idea the power that art has in changing people's lives. And that's why I think the work that you do and Marty is doing is so so so important in the world.

Margaret Bodde 39:19
Well, I have to say that we are a small team. So I want to take a moment to give a shout out to the other three or four people who work at the foundation with me, Jennifer On is our Managing Director. She's been at the foundation for over 20 years. And she's you know, kind of a genius in many ways in terms of creating programs, creating partnerships with people who will, you know, help fund these restorations. And she's truly a partner for Marty and I and she's just an extraordinary talent. And Kristin Merola who's Our program manager, who is just, you know, again, just so dedicated and devoted to film and cinema, and is just is no one who can keep more things in the air at the same time. She's terrific. And my colleague here in New York, Rebecca Wingull, who's actually moving on to grad school, we're sad to see her go, but she's been with the foundation for six years. So we're kind of a very small and kind of dedicated group that, you know, we're lean and mean, we make a lot happen. So I want to give a shout out to my colleagues at the foundation,

Alex Ferrari 40:38
Absolutely no question about it. Now, I have a question. A few questions I want to ask you that are kind of the nitty gritty of of actually film restoration. So we've talked about the ideas and the concepts and the love about it. But how long does it take to restore a film?

Margaret Bodde 40:53
Well, it varies depending on the condition of the materials, the length of the film, the type of of workflow that you decide. The first, the first thing you want to ask is like, Is this is this the original negative is this the best element to work from? If it's if the original negative is damaged, if it doesn't exist, if it's missing reels, that time to track down, and to kind of bring together all the best surviving elements for a film can be very time consuming, but it's really crucial, because you don't want to spend resources and time preserving something that you think is the best element. And then oh, you know, this archive in you know, in Germany, they have this whole film, and it's, it's a better element than what you're working from. So this consortium of archives, in under this group called FIAF, the International Federation of film archivists, they're really crucial in this process, the archives will do these calls around to the world to make sure that they've working from the best, the best material, so it's a, there's a long way of saying, it can take a long time. However, if you have an original camera negative, that's an, you know, really good or decent condition. And you know, that you're going to do either a photochemical preservation or a digital restoration. You know, it can be, it can be as short as, you know, two to four months, you know, if you can really focus on that, and if the if the, if you don't have to track down materials, if you don't have to do a lot of physical repair, and manual work on on the film itself. We've worked on projects that take 10 years. Wow. And that 10 year timeframe, is from the time that someone first starts talking to you about hey, and in this instance, I'll tell you what the project was one of Marty's oldest dearest friends, J. Cox, every time I would say, j, and he's a renowned writer, he would say to me, we got to save the memory of justice. It's this Marcel Ophuls. Four and a half, documentary on Nuremberg, Vietnam, and the French Algerian War, it's a masterpiece, we have to save it, no one can see it. So from that investigation, right, you have to then find out in the instance of this project, it was a subject of various lawsuits. It was, you know, bought and sold. There was only a 16 millimeter print at the New York Public Library. And so we had to do tracking down finding, you know, the original 16 millimeter was was made on 16 millimeter 16 millimeter negative. In this instance, we had to, which is one of the only times the film Foundation has ever had to do this. We had to go back because it's a documentary. And it had like 380 cues of clips, music, we had to go back and re license Oh, that material and scan the 16 millimeter negative, do all the work involved in restoring a film of that length. Then, we found the original German, French and French language tracks. And at the time the film was made, it was you know, in the 1970s, mid 70s. It was common, a common stylistic decision in documentaries, where you would to kind of put the original language track down or take it out entirely and have a very staid British, you know, voiceover

Alex Ferrari 45:09
Yes, I remember.

Margaret Bodde 45:10
Yeah. So we contacted Marty contacted Marcel Ophuls, the filmmaker of the director of the film, and said, you know, we found these Lane language tracks, what would you like to do? We don't want to change anything about the film. Unless it's a directorial, you know, choice. He said, I always wanted to use the original language tracks, they made me put that VoiceOver on. So what happens when you put the original language tracks and you know, your user interviews with former Nazis, right? So you want to hear the tone of their voice, you want to hear the tone of voice that Marcel Ophuls is using to interrogate these guys. And so it's a whole different experience. So we we really look at that that was a that was a massive undertaking that the film foundation took on with the Academy Film Archive. And it brought back a work of art film, really important, monumental documentary, to the world where, you know, I don't think anyone could have seen it. And we were able to work with think Thank you Sheila Nevins at HBO. Because she loved the film, she knew of the film. And she was able the HBO licensed it. And we were able to pay for all those licenses so that audiences could see the film. Because it's an important milestone, it's an educational tool, it's a real document for for for the 20th century. So that's just one very long winded example of how long it can take to to fully restore and make a film available to audiences.

Alex Ferrari 46:55
And what is the average cost? I know that depends obviously, on the the length, but generally, the average cost of a color film a black and white film that

Margaret Bodde 47:04
Generally a black and white film is somewhere on the 50 to $80,000 range, if it's a feature, if it's a feature length film, it can be more obviously, a color film is more than that, it's usually somewhere more like, you know, 80 to $120,000, for a full feature to do a full restoration, where you're really doing frame by frame work. And again, there that's kind of a ballpark, there are outliers that are less than that, and more than that, but that's the general ballpark.

Alex Ferrari 47:41
Now, tell me about your monthly on demand screening. So you guys have just started up?

Margaret Bodde 47:46
Well, this was this is a very exciting opportunity for the foundation to to reach the audience directly. When we, when we were in the pandemic and everything was shut down. And we had our annual board meeting, the directors, we were talking about all these great festivals that we work with that had migrated online and pivoted to presenting films, virtually, and also companies like criteria channel and movie and, and great organizations and also great theaters like the film forum and Anthology Film Archives and MoMA, they all had kind of presented their offerings online. And our board said, hey, you know, we should do that, you know, once in a while, we don't need to, you know, obviously we're not, we're there's all these great organizations doing it. But we should show people what we do, and the kind of work that we that we support. And so we went to a wonderful supporter, who used to be at IBM, Jeff Schick, and is now at Oracle. And we described the challenge to him, and he worked with us, as pro bono to kind of build a site that would allow us to present once a month for 24 hours, a fully restored film, and we build around each presentation interviews with archivists, filmmakers, actors, scholars, historians, talking, contextualizing the experience for an audience and, and giving information about the restoration about the film, why the film is important to you know, any given filmmaker, how it inspired them. So we're, we're creating really kind of like, a bit of a of a festival experience online for people, you know, all over the world. Most of the time. I mean, it's it depends on film by film we have we have more or less territories available, but it's free. And you can look at it if you look at it in a live way like we start each screening at seven o'clock in your local timezone. And if you're in the US or the UK or Canada, you You can join us for a live chat if that's the way you'd like to watch films if you're seeing a film for for the second or third or fourth time or for the first time, and you just like to talk to people while you're watching a film, which is kind of anathema to some people. But you know, we have that option. And then we also have an on demand option for the majority of the people who just want to be able to watch the film either on a large laptop or on their, hopefully on their, the television that they have at home, where they can cast onto a big screen, and enjoy the film. And you know, the films, you know, look beautiful, you see the restoration. And if if you have never seen the film before, you can learn all about the film, and join in this community that we think is still really vital every month and see a wide range of films, everything from we you know, for the for the initial launch, we showed a 1945 British film called I know where I'm going. That's one of the great romantic films of all time, we showed la strada which is, you know, Fellini's masterpiece that we, you know, restored in partnership with the chinet ticket to Bologna and criterion. And, and then after that we have a wonderful double feature. Because we love our double features. It's a film noir double feature of the chase, Arthur Ripley's the chase, and Edgar almost detour. Yes, we're thrilled about about that. Because, you know, we really, we want to show as many films as possible. So it's, it's fun to be able to show some double features here and there, too.

Alex Ferrari 52:24
And now you're going to be doing this, it's a monthly it's a monthly screening, right?

Margaret Bodde 52:28
It's every second Monday of each month. Okay. Yeah, we just wanted to make it, you know, we don't have the bandwidth with our small team to be doing this, you know, you know, every day, we also have so many great partners who do do this all the time. But we did want to have, you know, an opportunity to kind of directly connect with an audience and show them the kind of work that we support, we're going to be showing films from our world cinema project, you know, films that have been, you know, made in regions where, you know, a lot of times these films are really only known in the region that they were made in like commodity and like Samba Xanga, which is a French Angolan, and go and film that was directed by Sarah Mulder. And it's, it's a wonderful film, you know, a political film that's, again, being being discovered and rediscovered because of the restoration. And, you know, we're just really thrilled to, to get a real diverse offering of films out to audiences, because, you know, film is pretty, it's rich, and it's broad in its genres and era. And we want to celebrate all of that.

Alex Ferrari 53:47
Yeah. And it's, and you're gonna be doing this every every month, moving forward every month. Yeah. Before that's, that's, that's an amazing service. I will do everything I can to get the word out to to my audience, because I think it's, it's really, really important for filmmakers to, to watch old cinema and I mean, we all know, the usual suspects we all have to watch. But discovering those the Inq bits of the world and those kinds of films that are not mainstream classics, that's where a lot of really interesting filmmakers are and voices are heard that shouldn't be seen by different generations without question. I had one one question Where do you when you when you're done restoring it now? I'm assuming you put it on celluloid archival Sell, sell the Lord and put it in a salt mine somewhere and then also digital?

Margaret Bodde 54:35
Yeah, when when when we still do photochemical preservations with some of the archives, in which case you want to make sure that the original materials and elements are held in cold storage temperature and humidity control as well as the new film elements. But it allows you know, film prints to be circulated at theaters that are still showing 35 millimeter film. And then when we have digital work Hello. And when we restore films digitally, we always have, we have a film neg negative, that's output from the digital files, and then 35 millimeter film prints made from that negative. So we always have 35 millimeter film print and a DCP available to theaters so that audiences can see they have the theaters have the option of showing either. And I think, you know, it's important for us to always now have some kind of digital element. So because that's really the way that the majority of people are going to see the film's right. So we try to kind of as long as films available, we'll be we'll be making some prints and negatives of the films that we that we help restore.

Alex Ferrari 55:49
But there's some there's some Fourcade and maybe 8k Quick times out there somewhere.

Margaret Bodde 55:55
Absolutely. Well, quick terms are probably held by the rights holders. But yeah, we put

Alex Ferrari 56:00
As archival.

Margaret Bodde 56:01
Yeah, absolutely. Well, LTO tape is usually what we're preserving. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 56:07
Wow. Yeah, cuz I mean, again, it's you're fighting against time, time is the enemy here. It's it just, it just keeps pounding away in these elements. I mean, eventually, hopefully, there'll be a hard drive that will last indefinitely. And I think that will happen one day, but knows, you know, well, about a diamond or something.

Margaret Bodde 56:27
Well, what we hear is it's going to be DNA.

Alex Ferrari 56:31
DNA. So what is that? Exactly?

Margaret Bodde 56:33
DNA storage.

Alex Ferrari 56:35
So what is DNA storage? I have no idea I've never heard that,like DNA DNA?

Margaret Bodde 56:40
You need bigger brains than mine are going to have to explain that. But you should try to get someone on the show who can talk to you about DNA storage, because that's apparently the future, not just for film preservation and film storage, obviously. But for data storage, I mean, we are creating the the amount of, of, you know, computing power needed to store all that's being created on the internet, and, you know, crypto, everything is just so massive. I think the goal and the future is to have DNA strand hold all this information. Apparently, it's exponential, the amount of material that can be held, once you once you can, you know,

Alex Ferrari 57:24
Kind of like block kind of like a blockchain mixed with the DNA kind of world. Yet, again, brains bigger than you and I will have to explain this to people.

Margaret Bodde 57:35
As smart as we are. It's beyond us.

Alex Ferrari 57:40
Right! When we because you're on the cutting edge of everything. I mean, you're talking about, it's kind of like us trying to explain to somebody in the 1900s This thing right here is really, really important.

Margaret Bodde 57:52
Yeah, exactly. We use it all day, every day, but we cannot tell you how it works.

Alex Ferrari 57:59
Right. Exactly. Exactly.

Margaret Bodde 58:01
I can tell you how a toaster works. I can't tell you how this thing works.

Alex Ferrari 58:07
Now, Margaret, I'm going to ask you a few questions. I ask all of my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Margaret Bodde 58:26
Interesting, I feel like I'm still learning things. I'm not trying to dodge the question, but I'll tell you what I'm glad I haven't learned yet. Is the word no.

Alex Ferrari 58:36
Yes, thank you.

Margaret Bodde 58:38
I really, I can be kind of a pain in this way. But I don't feel like anything is impossible. And I try to do you know, and maybe it's because I've worked for Martin Scorsese for over 30 years, but I'd never, I never say no. I really try to make them I'm tenacious. And I think you need to be tenacious in, in, you know, roles, like I have with the film foundation, you can't give up on things, you know, how many people are gonna, like, you know, hang around for a 10 year restoration of a 1976 documentary. You know, so I'm trying to think of the less so I don't know if if you can unwind that into like the lesson.

Alex Ferrari 59:26
No, it makes it. I mean, the the lesson I think that you're learning is to not take no for an answer, which is a very, very big lesson for people to go if you can understand that. No, is the default. No, is what everyone's going to say to you most of the time, especially in the film industry. You know, I'm sure Marty I'm sure Marty can attest to that because he has been said no to so many times.

Margaret Bodde 59:51
I know and even even now, it's funny because people will say, Well, he's Martin's processor. You can you can do anything. It's like, yeah, people say You know, to him all the time. So it's like, you know, you, you really have to find ways to work around. You know, you have to you have to commit to your dream, whatever it is, if you're, you know, if you want to be an actor, if you want to be a writer, if you want to be a filmmaker, you know, you gotta believe in yourself. Because no one's gonna believe in you, unless they see it coming from you first.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:26
Absolutely. Now, I think we might have answered the question, but I'm gonna ask it anyway, what advice do you have for a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Margaret Bodde 1:00:37
I think this seems like an obvious bit of advice. But know your story, have a story to tell and know what that story is. And, you know, as much as you can draw deep from your own personal experiences, knowledge, you know, bring the emotion to it. And I think that's what people respond to, you know, people respond to the truth of something. And even if it's not like, Yeah, I'm not talking about documentary truth, I'm talking about something's authentic. You know, try to try to make a try to tell a story and make a film about something that matters to you. And that, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:28
That's great piece of advice. And my last question, and arguably the most difficult question, you can be asked three of your favorite films of all time.

Margaret Bodde 1:01:37
Oh, wow. That is really difficult because it changes as you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:43
Today, I always say as of right now, what comes to your mind, tomorrow it canchange. Yesterday was different right? Now, what are the three favorite films?

Margaret Bodde 1:01:52
Um, I would say, vertigo, and this is in no particular order. I would say vertigo.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:01
So good.

Margaret Bodde 1:02:05
I would say Mean Streets. And mean, maybe my I mean, it's a hard it's a hard call, because I have so many Scorsese favorites. You know, I'm really loving 2001. You know?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:21
I mean, my favorite Kubrick. I'm a huge huge Kubrick fan. I've gone down the rabbit hole, probably a little too much with with Stanley. But I love eyes wide shot I just adore. It is not the one that everyone talks about. But for me. I just I still remember walking out of the theater in 99. And my friends are asking me, what did you think I go, I don't know. I don't understand it, but I will in 10 years. And that's generally, all of Stanley's movies, they all are understood. About a decade later, really, truly, like appreciated. And then I saw it 10 years later after I was married. And it hit me at a whole other level, because you're just like, Oh, God, I understand what he was trying to say. And it's just it's such a hypnotic film. And main streets, there is a, there's a rawness and Novolog velocity, but like this, this energy energy that a young Scorsese is making there, you know, and I've seen I've seen, who's that knocking? Or what is a good girl? What is it? doing in a place like this? Yeah, I saw that one, I've seen almost all of Marty's short films and everything. But Main Street has this raw kinetic, that's kinetic energy, that you can start seeing the seeds of what's coming. And that's what that was such a brilliant piece of work as an independent filmmaker,

Margaret Bodde 1:03:53
It's really and it's the definition of what we just talked about, of like having a story, you know, important to you, goes deep, that's like a personal you know, these people, you know, this story, I will add, one film that I that I mentioned before, is, you know, did watch Some Like It Hot, again, reasonably good. And there are, you know, how many films hold up and make you laugh so hard? Every time you see them. And over, you know, film was 1960 I think maybe, you know, however many years, you know, 70 years later, it's it's just it's a real masterpiece. And you know, I've had a real Billy Wilder re appreciation lately,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:45
I'll tell you from from my generation of filmmakers, which was coming up in the 80s and the 90s laser discs were the thing and the Criterion Collection introduced me to films. If it just came out on the Criterion Collection, I would be like, I have to watch this. So Graduates I saw I saw movies, classic movies, when there wasn't a lot of information about movies unless you were in film school. And like the lady in the mid 80s, late 80s It just wasn't there's no internet. Unless you went out and studied in books, you really couldn't know what was something you should watch. And the Criterion Collection was one of those those collections that you'd like to graduate. Okay. Some Like It Hot as I saw some like a how to LaserDisc for the first time. So that was in these in that collection, especially the early stuff. And then of course, Raging Bull taxi driver, I think Mean Streets came out afterwards. And then Lawrence of Arabia, and the list goes on and on. But yeah, there's those films. But I remember, even when I was a knucklehead in the video store days, which I was a teenager, I call myself the knucklehead because I had no taste in cinema. I was learning my tastes and cinema. Again, I was watching like, you know, Jean-Claude Van Damme films and going he is the best actor ever. But because I was, you know, 16 So of course, you know, but even then films like The Graduate films like Some Like It Hot pierce through that because it hits you at a whole other level. It's at a superficial level. And that's when I fell in love with Billy Wilder Preston, Sturges, all it's just these these filmmakers, those film like Sullivan's Travels still holds.

Margaret Bodde 1:06:18
Oh, so Well, yeah. Even more, even more. And, you know, the thing is, is it's important to know, I think that comedy is hard.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:29
And that it can last

Margaret Bodde 1:06:31
Yeah, and we think of like, oh, lighter, you know, the the critics and awards, you know, groups, I think, underestimate how hard it is to make people laugh. And,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:46
And you watch a master like Billy Wilder and something like, that's an absolute masterpiece, like it's a it's a comedic masterpiece, the timing, the characters, the writing, just that everything in the editing, it's just such a well made comedy. And then yeah, because comedy is like, oh, it's everyone's laughing. So you shouldn't take it seriously. And that's a lot like awards. And, you know, Oscars and these kind of things don't don't usually award these kind of films. But it's so hard. So hard. I've, I've worked on comedies, it's the timing, you're talking about a frame here or frame there. The joke lands or doesn't land on that frame. It's such a nuanced art form. You know, one of my favorite comedies of all time, is airplay, and, because of the lunacy, but that is another deceiving. Comedy. It is. So well, the timing of the jokes, how they did it. And you do know the story of their their god, what is when you go in a test audience, the test audience review story. So when they it was one of the worst tested films ever Paramount thought it was going to be a bomb, because nobody wanted to admit that they were laughing. Nobody wanted to admit that they enjoyed it because it was so silly. And there was really never been a film like that. That's that's true, crazy slapstick. And but then when the audience when they hit this theaters, it just exploded. But it was considered one of the worst tested films ever. Because nobody wanted to admit that they were having a good time. So it's even then.

Margaret Bodde 1:08:25
Yeah, thank goodness, they didn't like it. I mean, that launched a whole that was groundbreaking. It launched a whole new genre, genre that didn't exist before. Right.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:38
Right. And so these are, these are pieces of cinema that, you know, in the world that we live in today, Margaret, we have so much content, and so much information coming at us and with you know, I remember a time I always tell I talk filmmakers, this young filmmakers, I'm like, I remember a time where I could watch everything that came out that week. Because I was working at a video store and every movie that came out on that given week, five movies, six movies, maybe I watched them all.

Margaret Bodde 1:09:08
Yeah, that'd be a day, you could take a day and watch everything.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:11
Day or weekend and you're done. And I would watch everything. And I would be you know, that's how I got my cinema knowledge. But today's world, there is so much coming at you the content and the amount of films, the amount of television not an assignment talk about YouTube and content be created there. But just in cinema, and in television, storytelling, there's so much coming at us. You and I could spend 10 lifetimes and not watch at all it's it's insane. So it's that's why it's so important to highlight these wonderful pieces of art that you are working with, with the foundation to to bring light to because like content and cinema has become disposable in many ways where before you know, there was only three channels.

Margaret Bodde 1:10:00
Yeah, I know, I know. Well, no, Alex, it's so we're so grateful for you to, you know, be talking about this to your audience to be highlighting it. Because I think for filmmakers, this is, it probably is just this really important. I mean, nothing is more important to filmmakers than having that well to draw from, where you can go back and be inspired by a film that was made. That's part of that legacy. It's part of the continuum of the creative evolution of storytelling on film.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:34
Right, exactly. And I can't imagine a world without the filmography of of Martin Scorsese, or Stanley Kubrick, or Steven Spielberg, or Hitchcock or Kurosawa, you pull these just those those names alone, or Coppola, you pulled them out of cinema. Can you imagine the next generation of filmmakers without being able to see Mean Streets or Jaws or 2001?

Margaret Bodde 1:10:56
Yeah, I mean, nothing exists in a vacuum. And, you know, you can't have you know, you can't have, you know, fill in the blank, contemporary filmmaker, without their antecedents, you know, without without the things that came before them. Because everything it builds on it, it's music is the same way any art form, it echoes the past, then, and then create something new right now, because like, we're not, we're not mimicking the past, we're using, you know, we're kind of building on that. And, you know, using your own voice and your own story, but always having that awareness of what's come before.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:37
Margaret, it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And thank you, Marty, and your entire team at the Film Foundation for what you do, because it is such important work. And I'm so glad that I can in my small way help you along the way. So thank you again, and please continue the good work. You are doing God's work without question.

Margaret Bodde 1:11:56
Thank you, Alex. It's been such a pleasure. And hopefully we'll be back and talk about other restorations in the future.

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