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When the producer of a Discovery Channel documentary, a feature film or a television commercial wants specific footage, he can turn to David Melpignano '72 and his Boston-based company Stock Video. From acrobats to Zorro, cityscapes to wildlife, sports action to time-lapse sequences, Stock Video owns 10,000 archival newsreels, educational and industrial shorts, travelogues, documentaries and feature films. Add to that nearly 12,000 hours of film and video news footage dating back to the early 1970s and there's a good chance Melpignano can find what you need-within reason.
"We have a list of the most bizarre requests that come in," said Melpignano, who founded Stock Video in 1985. "Some are funny. People just don't think about them." They include requests for women picking spaghetti from trees in Italy or a point-of-view shot from a small plane flying over an Iowa field at night.
All of his business is Internet driven, he said, with 10 to 12 requests for footage coming in every hour. The company is able to fill approximately 70 percent of those, although some are impossible.
Melpignano doesn't just duplicate footage for others, though. He's also president and executive producer of Stock Video's parent company, Greystone Producers Corp., which produces commercials, corporate and public relations films, documentaries and more.
When choosing what stories to tell in documentaries, Melpignano says that sometimes it comes down to economics. "When we did gambling it was coming up for a vote in Massachusetts and we felt we could sell it prior to the election," he said.
Melpignano has just started a documentary on Boston's team in the new women's football league, a natural for a sports enthusiast who remembers the exact moment he fell in love with hockey at a Colby game. Melpignano says he was standing behind the goal when Ben Bradlee '70 skated down the right side and drove a slap shot into the goal's upper left corner. "I was hooked for life," Melpignano said. He now makes hockey highlight films for local high schools ("It gets me into a lot of games," he said) and includes a special deal on his Stock Video Web site for anyone who calls and says, "Go Red Sox."
During the past 25 years Melpignano has seen the industry change most dramatically in the technology it uses. "Today the same effects that it took me four days, a roomful of equipment and $30,000 to produce can be accomplished inside a portable digital camera costing $900," he said.
But high-tech equipment will only get you so far. "The technology changed, but the same skills that worked in the past will work just as well now," he said. "If you can be creative, if you write well and if you enjoy telling stories with images and sounds, you can be successful in the film and video business."
Melpignano's introduction to film and video production came from his father, who shot home movies of birthdays, anniversaries and the like. "Somehow it seeped into my bloodstream," said Melpignano. "He exposed me to some of the mechanical aspects of shooting and splicing film." Last Christmas Melpignano gave his mother a film he edited from his late father's unused footage.
Now Melpignano, who writes short stories and nonfiction in his spare time, wants to devote some creativity to his own feature film work. "Earlier I was much too busy trying to pay the bills with contract film work to be able to put the energies and finances together to do a fiction feature film," he said. "Now that much of our business revolves around licensing stock footage I have more time to devote to some of my own projects."
-Alicia Nemiccolo MacLeay '97
Diversity Call Renewed: Students, President Bro Adams, faculty and others join in effort to appreciate and accentuate differences.
Making Waves: An inside look at the news you love to hear--from Colbians.
A Simple Feast: Wylie Dufresne '92 is one of the hottest chefs in New York City.
President's Page: President Bro Adams on the court and affirmative action.
Alumni Reunion 2001
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