Unfortunately, my good friend David Shepard of Film Preservation Assoc. is in ICU due to cancer, he is not going to make it the next few days. I just thought I'd post about this since I imagine no one knows what's going on.
Such sad news about Mr. Shepard. I felt a lump in my throat when I read the news. I, like so many fans of silent films will be forever grateful for all the work he has done for film preservation. My heart goes out to him & all his loved ones during this ordeal.
David was very helpful in planning my first trip to Silent Hollywood a few years ago. He mailed scores of pictures with notes on historic film sites, which proved useful on the trip, and also sent an email with suggestions and tips for a successful visit.
Last year at the Kansas Silent Film Festival I had a chance to meet and talk with him and was lucky to sit a couple seats down from him during a showing of Gribiche. One of the highlights for me was sharing a glance and laugh with him at one of the scenes from the film. It was a film geek moment for sure, but one I will always remember.
In reply to a message I sent, thanking him for his assistance in planning out my Silent Hollywood trip, he replied, "A pleasure. Passion for silent films trumps age, politics, wealth, all the rest."
The work he has done will be appreciated by generations to come.
Checking my notes, David and I had been chatting just this past October about placing my film projects etc. After watching La Roue last week I'd sent him a note expressing by admiration of his incredible work on that landmark silent film.
Awful news all around. I'm probably at least somewhat younger than most people here (just turned 30 last year), but I remember cutting my silent movie teeth on many of Mr. Shepard's editions of various titles in the 1990s and early 2000s. As a novice film enthusiast I quickly learned that I could trust the quality of the DVDs Mr. Shepard released through Image Entertainment and Kino. I remember saving up my pennies and dimes and part time job money for several months in order to purchase the 11 disc Art of Buster Keaton set (that was some serious money for a 15/16 year old). Even though I have the updated blu-ray editions, I still have that earlier set and have no intention of ever getting rid of it. Thank you Mr. Shepard for how you have impacted my life.
Never cry over spilt milk, because it may have been poisoned. - W.C. Fields
David has been my hero for years so it was a huge moment for me when I was able to meet him at the Kansas Silent Film Festival 8 years ago. I've run into him several more times since then and was a total (60 year old) fan boy around him. He has also been very helpful advising me on setting up different screenings. An incredibly generous man.
This news is an incredible shock for me. David is in my prayers.
This is terrible news. I've met him several times at Cinecon and the Kansas Silent Film Festival. While Film Preservation Associates was in business, I bought a couple of 16mm films from him every year. Blackhawk Films was the reason that I became interested in classic and silent films. I've even got his Henry King book. I'll always remember him setting nitrate film on fire, and performing with Gertie the Dinosaur at the KSFF.
I owe David Shepard an astronomical debt for giving me a huge opportunity, and for those years I collaborated with him, something very treasurable in my life.
I had corresponded a bit with David in the 1990s, purely as a fan of his work. Then I went to Cinefest in Syracuse and met him. I described my life as a "collaborative" pianist, and lamented that I had "accompanied" every instrument in the world, but had never accompanied a silent film. I said I was no wiz at improvising, and wondered how I could possibly "organize" a score. I remember we were downtown for the screening there, and freezing as the heat had gone out that day, but he said "would you like to try to do a score?" Would I? Yes, yes and YES! Of course, there were many films in which the kind of score I could manage would be a mismatch, to say the least, but David somehow knew, without hearing a note of my playing, what I could do or couldn't do. He suggested "Captain Fracasse", sent me a VHS with time-code, and I went to work. Of course, it was a big leap for me, and I was terribly nervous that it would be unacceptable. He seemed pleased with the results, and we worked on a few more films over the next few years.....The Parson's Widow, Michael, a few of the Unseen Cinema box, a number of the Melies box, Monte Cristo. I don't really consider myself a part of the silent film musical community, but Mr. Shepard's generosity allowed my to realize a dream of mine, and I will be eternally grateful to him for allowing me the chance to work with him, and to work on those beautiful films!
Though I have never met Mr. Shepard, his work has always been a constant inspiration to me and the golden standard of quality film releases. Since I was 14, I've spent countless nights in front of a glowing TV, spellbound by his magnificent work that always captured the authenticity of an original screening. His name meant care and quality- true love of the art! God be with him and his family.
Oh, such terrible news. I had heard that he was in the hospital with pneumonia, but was very ill, so it sounded ominous. I was first introduced to David in the mid 1990s when Tim Brock was premiering his Faust score. I last spied him at the SF Film Festival this year, chatting with Leonard Maltin in front of the Castro Theater. He's been incredibly generous with his time and resources, and we all owe him a lot.