Arriving in New York

BY CRAIG DINGWALL

Craig Dingwall is visiting the USA in May as part of the NFSA’s George Eastman House exchange program. Craig is a telecine operator (the process of transferring motion picture film into video form) and colourist in the NFSA preservation team.

The exchange program promotes the sharing of knowledge and skills between the NFSA and George Eastman House. Craig will attend the L Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation where he will gain an overview of digital restoration practice and will tour the facilities at GEH, meeting and carrying out research with the expert staff in the preservation and digitisation areas. While in the US, Craig will also visit a number of specialist restoration and preservation facilities, including Cineric and the Paley Media Centre. Craig will also tour the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper.

1 May 2011
Left Australia 10 am Sunday morning for the US. After flying for 24 hours and going through various security screens, I arrived in New York 5 pm Sunday afternoon. I now have a sense of what time travel is like, much like Doctor Who. On the flight to Los Angeles I struck up a conversation with the gentlemen next to me. He mentioned that he was a writer named Kenneth Ross and that he had written the stage play of Breaker Morant (1978). He was later involved in the process of adapting the play for the screenplay of Breaker Morant (1979). I told Ken that I was from the NFSA and that I had transferred Breaker Morant many years ago for DVD release. Ken went on to ask me about The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) as he was looking at researching it for a future book idea. I explained that the NFSA went through a full restoration of what we had left of the film and the new footage that had been uncovered. I gave Ken my email address and he will contact me sometime in the future. It was fascinating talking to him and made the 15-hour flight to LA go a lot quicker. It was quite the coincidence.

2 May
It seems coincidences on my trip are becoming the norm. I woke up at about 2 am US time and turned on the TV to find that Osama bin Laden had been shot by American troops only a few hours earlier. The news was overlaid by images of celebrations in Times Square and at Ground Zero. I find myself in New York during a historically significant moment. I had been deeply affected by the footage of the September 11 attacks in 2001 so I made my way down to Ground Zero to find a massive collection of police, media and the general public. It is the main topic of conversation, New Yorkers openly discuss the shooting with each other in the streets. Journalists from all over the world are here. I was approached by a journalist from Sweden for an interview. When I mentioned I was from Australia he quickly apologised and moved on. The gravity of the 9/11 attack was brought home to me by the atmosphere that surrounded Ground Zero.

After the news of bin Laden’s death broke, President Obama visited Ground Zero and a New York fire station that lost many of its crew on 9/11. I found myself part of the crowd waiting to see the President near the fire station. There were armed forces, police and police snipers on the roof. The President’s car turned up and we caught a quick glimpse of him as he was rushed into the building. A very surreal experience.