IDENTIFICATION AND HANDLING OF NITRATE FILM

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Richard P. May

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IDENTIFICATION AND HANDLING OF NITRATE FILM

PostFri Nov 07, 2008 11:59 am

For those who have occasion to work with nitrate, the Association of Moving Image Archivists have just published a guide which can be quite informative.
You can access it at http://www.amianet.org/groups/interest/ ... itrate.php
Dick May
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Ray Faiola

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PostFri Nov 07, 2008 1:21 pm

I sure as hell hope it includes an admonishment not to set a reel of nitrate film atop a stove when the oven is turned on!!!

From another forum:

The nitrate / diacetate that burst into flames was a one of a kind 2000 foot reel of Erie, PA home movies. The family was very affluent and the date codes started in 1916 and ended around 1928. They spent a lot of money on the intertitles but it makes no difference now because it is now a big clump in my back yard.

I burnt my eye lashes, brows and my eye because I picked up the reel to throw it outside. But before I could open the door the film was literally spitting out fire so I dropped it on the back room floor and shoved the blazing reel out the door with my now melted sponge mop.

My trash basket and a pile of Priority Mail boxes caught fire too. It all happened too quickly.

I bought a gallon of floor stripper to remove the greenish-yellow-brown nitrate burn goo marks off the floor tiles. It works but the stink is still there.

The most pathetic thing about this is it happened as I was taking a break from putting new shelving together to store my films!

The reel was on the stove with a bunch of safety films. The whole area
around the stove was cool as I was warming up the oven but apparently not the
specific spot that reel was.


Within the hour that reel would have been in the open air on the shelving if I hadn't been stupid and turn the oven on!!!

Stupid move on my part, I know. I paid over $170 for that reel on eBay earlier this year.
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Chris Snowden

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PostFri Nov 07, 2008 3:45 pm

Well, there've been nitrate fires in studios, vaults and archives for the last 95 years, so let's not be too tough on Darren. How many times in history have you ever heard of a nitrate fire followed by an admission of responsibility for it?

Still, you'd never catch me keeping nitrate in the kitchen. I keep all of mine down in the basement, under a pile of oily rags next to the furnace.
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Gumlegs

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PostSat Nov 08, 2008 12:09 pm

Chris Snowden wrote:Well, there've been nitrate fires in studios, vaults and archives for the last 95 years, so let's not be too tough on Darren. How many times in history have you ever heard of a nitrate fire followed by an admission of responsibility for it?

Still, you'd never catch me keeping nitrate in the kitchen. I keep all of mine down in the basement, under a pile of oily rags next to the furnace.


Gee, I hope you carefully seal it so the air can't get in and cause trouble!
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silent-partner

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PostSat Nov 08, 2008 9:46 pm

Chris Snowden wrote:Well, there've been nitrate fires in studios, vaults and archives for the last 95 years, so let's not be too tough on Darren. How many times in history have you ever heard of a nitrate fire followed by an admission of responsibility for it?


The man was cooking a pizza and drinking beer.
With nitrate film on the stove.
I saw the pictures but I still think Darren is pulling our collective legs.

20 years ago while cleaning out my grandfathers attic I saw a few metal cans (5 to 7, can't remember) of something called 'Midnight/London/L.Chaney'.
I ate them like a pizza. Delish.
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silentfilm

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PostMon Dec 22, 2008 2:39 pm

I received an Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World from August 18, 1928 in the mail today. A couple of relevant articles are:

Every Child Likes a Fire, But Not on a Theatre
(Special to the Herald-World)

LAFAYETTE, LA., Aug. 14 -- Fire which broke out in the Royal theater while 350 school children were attending the Saturday matinee caused damage estimated at $5.500, partly covered by insurance, and threatened for a time the destruction of the business. The fire started in the projection booth. Good judgement in the conduct of the staff of the theatre averted disorder. (page 28)

Prison Farm's Lack of Booth Blamed for Fire: Inmates Near Death
Projectionist in Second Blaze in Texas Pays with Life After Saving Patrons -- Theatre is Destroyed


DALLAS, Aug. 14. -- Failure of the state prison farm near Hobby, Texas, to provide proper booth equipment is blamed for a fire Thursday that brought to several inmates burns and injuries that may prove fatal and caused heavy loss both in prison properties and in damaged prints.

In another fire, at the Plastex theatre in Pleasanton, Texas, Guy Metcalfe, 54-year-old projectionist, paid with his life for attempting to put out the flames and prevent disorder amont the 100 patrons. He was covered with a stream of burning celluloid as he tried to smother a container of burning films and then jumped from a second-story window. He was rushed to a hospital but lost the fight for life. The theatre was destroyed but no patron was seriously injured. [Note: it was actually the Plestex Theater -- Bruce.]
No Booth at Prison Farm

The state prison farm tragedy was laid in part to a burning gigaret, tossed to the floor by a patron. When the flames came into contact with exposed films, there was a rapid spread of the fire.

Don Douglas, secretary of the Dallas Film Board of Trade, declared the prison farm did not have a booth or other necessary safety appliances.

Comment from one exchange manager was that his exchange would refust to sell any account not having proper booth equipment.

Damage Adjustment a Problem

How the damage adjustment will be made is a matter of speculation. Fire regulations in city ordinances, it was pointed out, are rigid regarding theatres' handling of film, and the trade was surprised to hear a report that prison officials had admitted that because of other heavy duties at the institution they had neglected to provide facilities for film operation. (page 24)

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