AFC Newsletter Editorial, September 2015

By Nathalie Durand, co-president of the AFC

par Nathalie Durand La Lettre AFC n°256

[English] [français]

When I was a camera assistant, I remember watching the dailies at the end of a day of shooting. I would take my scooter or my car, go to Epinay, go up the stairs that led to the screening room, where I would wait with a knot in my stomach for the room to go dark and see the raw images, with no sound, where I would see the scenes we had shot the previous day, and my relief when we had gotten it right, and the desire to melt into the darkness when we hadn’t. Those are my first memories of Éclair.

I remember working with the colour timers, the trips to Epinay and back in order to develop the best possible copy of the film we had shot. The discussions in the screening room and in the hallways…
Of course, everything has changed : we have moved out of the chemical smells of the darkroom into the plush computer rooms full of keyboards and control panels, worthy of an airplane cockpit. Instead of Epinay, we now go to Vanves. But the men and women who have made Éclair what it is over the years have remained our faithful collaborators. Some of them are still there ; others have left.

Today, Éclair Group continues to operate as a subsidiarity of Ymagis.
We are relieved that the adventure continues, but we know what a heavy toll this economic war has taken. Over a quarter of the staff has been let go. We feel this is a waste of human talent.
Of course, we now shoot more and more films in digital, because we don’t have the choice. Technology evolves, we have to adapt, and we do our best to make the best use of these new tools, but we continue to work with the laboratories that are our essential partners.

But how can we not be troubled when we see the dynamite demolition of the Kodak factories in Rochester ? When we learn that photochemical laboratories are closing in France and across the globe ? And at the same time, we’re all trying to replicate the organic feeling of film stock using digital tools !
Is this nostalgia ? No. It is disgust at our society that is not doing what is necessary to preserve this venerable technology and stupor at the idea that it may one day totally disappear. Film development must live on in order to ensure the survival of our cinematographic heritage.

We must not abandon our values, we must continue to partner everywhere and always with those who believe, as we do, that it is necessary to preserve quality cinema. Hollywood and Kodak have signed an agreement to ensure that it will continue to be possible to film using silver-process film stock. We must have the audacity to do the same.