got his first job at the printing department of
WRS in Pittsburgh, PA at age 22. Over the next
36 years, he worked his way through quality control
for chemical and photographic, finally becoming
VP of Operations. Today he’s the President
and principal founder of Summit Film Lab &
“I’m a hands-on
guy,” says Scheller. “I’m the
one they call if there’s a mechanical problem,
so a lot of times I’ll be there with my
sleeves rolled up and a wrench in my hands.”
That’s what customers seem to know and like
about Summit and its staff of 24 employees.
Scheller bought his lab equipment
from WRS and is renting space in the same building.
He says Summit may eventually move and is in the
process of seeking a new location.
The laboratory has found success
as an affordable photochemical restoration house.
Summit is owned by Media Holding, which has two
companies located in a 5,000 square foot facility
at the limestone mines in Boyers, PA. There is
a tremendous amount of film, microfilm and videos
stored at the mines and Summit offers services
of evaluation, duplication and production.
The Summit facility in Pittsburgh
offers black & white/color processing and
printing for 16mm, Super16mm and 35mm film as
well as optical blowups and titling services.
Telecine transfer, conforming, editing services
and sound transfers are also offered. The lab
would like to attract more independent filmmakers,
as it already has a very good reputation with
film schools around the country.
Russ had contact with the ACVL
early in his career while attending Kodak demonstrations
in Rochester, NY. He remembers when 5384 had an
issue that caused dissolves and fades to go green.
“As it turns out, it was an issue with the
film, but labs were getting around the problem
by making a filter. It was clear in the middle,
blue on either side and as the fader closed down,
it would allow less blue light, until clear. That’s
what solved it, at least until Kodak was able
to find a solution in the manufacturing of the
film. “I was amazed at the knowledge of
other lab people and ACVL members attending the
session and the information that was being shared”
Scheller joined the ACVL board
January 1, 2003. He can’t say enough about
the value of being a member for the contact and
information sharing among member labs. “I
think it’s very critical that the labs communicate.
That’s why I got involved with ACVL.”
Scheller continued, “In order to stay a
viable organization, you’ve got to get new
blood and get people involved. I think if you
have a lab, you need to be in the ACVL.”
When he’s not working,
Russ spends time with his wife Susan, who he married
34 years ago. His two sons and daughter live close
by, and the grandkids are definitely the apple
of his eye. He’s devoted to the lab business
and it takes a lot of his time, but you can tell
this is a man walking his talk. Russ’s attitude
is reflected in the company’s tag line:
“Summit Film, where quality and service
reach new heights.”
He’ll always be
raising the bar.