PTP helps restore Bruce Chapman documentaries

PTP is proud to have played a role in the restoration of two historical documentaries from the 1970s: The Market, a documentary about Seattle’s Pike Place Market and A Memory For The Future, which documents Seattle’s creative evolution.

Both films were conceived by Bruce Chapman, an ex journalist, Republican politician and diplomat. Emory Bundy was a consultant on The Market and one of the producers on A Memory For The Future. During the making of the films he was also the director of Public Affairs at KING TV. He was kind enough to provide some background for the the two films.

“In the 1960s, The Market was targeted for urban renewal. Under the guise of improvement, legal action would be taken to condemn properties and use public funds to assemble them for redevlopment. The beloved Pike Place Market and surrounding low-income housing would be sacrificed for parking structures for downtown businesses, luxury hotels, and a convention center.”

“Friends Of The Market, Allied Arts and various citizen groups wanted to save The Market, and gathered 60,000 signatures to appeal, which the City Council ignored. In desperation, an initiative was launched to enact historic preservation. Remarkably it won, despite vast amounts of money spent to defeat it.”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to ensure the initiative’s immediate success as Chapman recalls: “John Miller and I were elected to the City Council as pro-Market advocates on the same 1971 ballot that passed the Save The Market initiative. All but two of the existing Council, as well as the mayor, Wes Ullman, opposed the initiative. Those two allies of ours—Tim Hill and Phyliss Lamphere—like Miller and I, were part of the reform group CHECC (Choose an Effective City Council) that had started in 1967 and eventually gained a Council majority 1973. I made historic preservation a personal commitment because I saw it as a potentially transformative (in both literal and figurative senses) strategy for reviving Seattle after the ‘70-‘71 recession.” 

In the end, even though Ullman was initially opposed to the decision, he eventually accepted the result, and turned his considerable administrative talents to making a success of Market Preservation. The successful efforts to both save Seattle’s Pike Place Market, and incorporate historic preservation into urban renewal is the subject of the documentary The Market.

A film frame from “A Memory for the Future”. You can see the dry film cement that causes the film to warp. This also creates registration issues over the splices, requiring advanced compositing to fix.

Bundy further explains how “A Memory for the Future emanated from reflections by Seattle City Councilman Bruce Chapman, who pondered notable urban improvements—including a wonderful parks-and-boulevards system—that were created in the aftermath of two epic circumstances: The Great Fire of 1889, in which much of the downtown urban core of Seattle, mostly wooden structures, was consumed, the other the Yukon Gold Rush, accompanied by the belief that the only way to the gold was via Seattle. Thereby, the miners mined the gold, and Seattle mined the miners. Wealth expanded, durable and attractive urban structures multiplied, and the population soared. A remarkable water system was established, and scenic grounds for a major university were identified and laid-out.”

“In subsequent years various of the notable improvements were taken for granted, neglected, and compromised. But starting in the 1970s new, creative initiatives were taken, including protections for historic initiatives, major park acquisitions and initiatives like the P-Patch movement and the Burke-Gilman Trail. With the help of city staff, Councilman Bruce Chapman assembled a slide-show presentation documenting the history of Seattle’s creative evolution. He appealed to KING5 for a television documentary on the topic. A Memory for the Future resulted.”

From a restoration standpoint, both documentaries were shot on 16 mm film. Besides the usual dust and scratches that accumulates over 50 odd years, there were some troublesome issues that needed to be addressed such as splice bumps on almost every cut, which had warped the film on either side. Also there were registration issues on slow zooms that required re-compositing cleaned-up elements, as well as a fair amount of gate weave in certain sections, warranting subtle but effective stabilization.

PTP worked closely with our friends at Lightpress in Seattle to scan, restore, degrain, color and ultimately deliver these two films back to Bruce Chapman, almost half a century after they were initially released.

Published by miltonadamou

Milton Adamou is the owner of Pepper Tree Post, a full service post production boutique located in the Hollywood Hills, CA.

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