Perspectives from Independent Filmmakers, Documentarians and Nonprofit Audiovisual Archives

The Digital Dilemma, published in 2007, raised important concerns about the longevity of digital motion picture materials created by the major Hollywood studios, as well as other valuable digital data managed by large commercial, scientific and government organizations.  It found that all organizations dealing with digital systems and data collection face the same problem: they do not have an operationally and economically sustainable means to maintain long-term access to their materials.

The Digital Dilemma 2 focuses on the more acute challenges faced by independent filmmakers, documentarians and nonprofit audiovisual archives.  While 75 percent of theatrically released motion pictures are independently produced, these communities typically lack the resources, personnel and funding to address sustainability issues that are available to major Hollywood studios and other large, deep-pocketed enterprises.  Independent filmmakers create – and nonprofit film archives collect and store – a sizeable part of moving image and sound heritage.  The Academy partnered with the Library of Congress's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) to produce this new study with the conviction that these communities shouldn't be allowed to fall through the cracks.

For this report, a cross-section of independent filmmakers, distributors and marketers was interviewed and a broader online survey of independent filmmakers was conducted.  In addition, a representative group of nonprofit audiovisual archives provided details on their digital preservation activities, including information about the content they receive as born digital files, their current practices for digitally reformatting content for preservation, and their overall digital infrastructure, policies and funding strategies.  The report's findings show an urgent need for these diverse and widely dispersed individuals and organizations to address the digital dilemma before the cultural heritage they represent is permanently lost.