Motion Picture Film Guidance: Emergency Preparation, Response, and Recovery

What Can I Do To Prepare, Respond, and Recover From An Emergency?

What can I do to prepare for a disaster?

Proper storage is the best defense against disaster. Basements and attics, the most common storage areas in homes, are more likely to experience the effects of a weather emergency. Basements flood and roofs leak.

Home movies should be stored on a climate-controlled floor of your home, in breathable plastic containers, in an area that is not exposed to large swings in temperature. Avoid storing your motion picture film in a non-climate-controlled basement or on the floor where it could be exposed to water. Damp conditions may accelerate conditions such as vinegar syndrome or encourage mold growth on the film.

How can I salvage my damaged materials?

Should a disaster occur, follow the steps below. You will need: distilled water, plastic bags, and sponges.

  • Most importantly, wet film must be kept wet until it can be rewashed
  • If possible, motion picture film on reels or cores should be delivered to a professional film lab to be rewashed and dried within 48 hours. See a list of potential labs.
  • Wet film should be packed in container lined with plastic bags to keep it wet for re-washing. You may add distilled water to ensure that it stays wet.
  • Previously deteriorated acetate film has a low recovery rate. Freeze or air-dry these reels immediately.
  • Film emulsion with mold damage is soluble in water. Dry the reels as best you can, but do not let these reels remain wet.
  • Wipe outside of film cans before opening. Film cans that are wet on the outside may contain dry film that should be separated from wet material.

Where can I find more information?