in Harrison NY, Elias Savada joined The American Film Institute immediately
after his graduation from Cornell University in 1972, working on their ongoing
project to catalog feature length motion pictures produced and released in the
United States. In 1977 he began a five year stint as senior researcher at the
Law Firm of E. Fulton Brylawski and J. Michael Cleary, a top copyright law firm.
returned to the AFI from 1983 to 1991, where he compiled a massive database of
silent films released in the United States prior to 1911. The information he
compiled was published in 1995 as the two-volume, 1,800-page, work-in-progress
The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United
States: Film Beginnings, 1893-1910, listing over 17,000 films.
in 1977 Savada founded the Motion Picture information Service (MPIS), which
originally assisted the United States Information Agency with repertory film
programming for overseas cultural festivals, particularly the Gulbenkian
Foundation and the Cinemateca Portuguesa in Lisbon.
the ensuing years, he has arranged for the transportation of more than 2,000
films to the Cinemateca, the Filmoteca Española in Madrid, the San Sebastian
(Spain) Film Festival, the Pordenone (Italy) Silent Film Festival, and other
archives and events around the world.
the mid-1980s he began to perform copyright research under his MPIS banner and
now writes close to 500 reports each year covering thousands of movies,
television programs, songs, recordings, books, plays, etc., having serviced more
than 475 clients, including law firms, motion picture and television production
companies, home video firms, and individuals. Using a vast knowledge of cinema
history and keen intuitive skills, he has been able to expand on a basic
copyright report to include information not available in the Copyright Office
files. Since 1991 he has been working out of his residence in Bethesda,
1975 he and co-author David J. Skal had their biography Dark Carnival: The
Secret World of Tod Browning, Hollywood's Master of the Macabre published by
Doubleday. His interest in the director of Freaks (1932) and Dracula (1931),
date from screenings of the films in a "flicks for kicks" course in
college. It was nearly a quarter-century later that interviews he recorded in
1972 with associates and friends of Browning would be incorporated into the
biography. The hardcover edition is currently out of print, but a paperback
edition is planned for 2002. The book has been translated and published in Spain
and Japan. It has been optioned for feature production.
interest in film mirrors his father's professional infatuation with 78 rpm
records. Morton Savada, owner of Records Revisited in New York, is an expert in
his field of this long-discontinued vinyl record format.
obsession to detail has now been extended to his own family genealogy. For more
than nine years he has been tracking down cousins and has documented nearly
5,500 relatives. He is co-chair of the 23rd International Conference on Jewish
Genealogy to be held in Washington DC in July 2003.