News / Edmonton

The test of time: Meet the man archiving Alberta's film history

Dave Morgan is archiving more than 1,500 works of filmmaking by Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta (FAVA) members, before they become inaccessible.

Dave Morgan stands at FAVA's archive in Edmonton.

Kevin Tuong / Metro Order this photo

Dave Morgan stands at FAVA's archive in Edmonton.

Dave Morgan is racing against time to save more than 30 years worth of Alberta films.

Morgan is currently archiving more than 1,500 works of filmmaking by Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta (FAVA) members, before they become inaccessible. 

“Video tape has a life-span and it starts to turn into spaghetti,” said Morgan. “The tape wears out, it just gets old. The collection was in jeopardy.”   

Archiving the VHS, Beta cam, three-quarter inch film, mini-DV and DVD content is essentially a full-time job for Morgan, although he didn’t plan to be any part of it. 

“For a guy who stood up in a (FAVA) board meeting, waving his arms and said, 'This is important, we should save this' — it’s taken on a life of it’s own," he said.    

Thanks to a grant from the Edmonton Heritage Council, Morgan started the archival process earlier this year. 

He’s now a quarter way through digitizing the collection.

The process isn't easy. 

For each film, he makes a digital copy and then saves it to the cloud. The movies will then be made available for the public to watch via FAVA TV, online, while the originals are donated to the Provincial Archives for safekeeping.

The FAVA catalogue of films includes documentaries, experimental films, narrative dramas, animations, music videos and more. 

All have been made by local novice and experienced filmmakers. 

The collection includes the complete careers’ worth of work by celebrated Alberta-based filmmakers Lindsay McIntyre and Eva Colmers — both of whom have won several prestigious awards for their work. 

Morgan said the collection captures “their growth as artists, as storytellers.” 

FAVA was formed in 1982 and is currently the only artist-run media arts centre in northern Alberta. 

Morgan said that history makes  whole collection is a lens into Alberta. “These are our stories. These are Alberta stories told by Alberta people.”

* This story has been amended from a previous version to spell a name correctly. 

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