How to get film footage from a film archive & film archive etiquette
July 14, 2013 6:34 AM   Subscribe

I have identified a film clip in a documentary movie that is of professional interest to me; I also suspect that there may be other film clips on the specific location of interest. I would like to identify the archive which has this film clip and possibly find a way to view the whole thing. I would like to know a little about researching things in film archives - catalogs, accessibility to someone who doesn't have academic affiliation nor film industry affiliation. I do work at the location that I'm looking for footage of.

I've used paper archives before and know a little about the etiquette of an archive. Are there things that I should know before approaching a film archive so I don't ask naive questions or make unreasonable requests?

I'm in NYC and it appears to me that most of the archives in question are in CA. I am unlikely to be able to travel to CA; is this something that can be done remotely? Or am I being foolishly optimistic?

If for some reason the location for which I am looking for footage is relevant, contact me via memail.

Thanks for the help. I'm enjoying a steep learning curve on archives and libraries in the humanities and have gotten much help from mefites.
posted by sciencegeek to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I do this for a living. MeMail me and I can walk you through it. Most archives have websites, no need to travel.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:20 AM on July 14, 2013

You probably know about the Prelinger archives, right? I think there is also a physical location to view more material. Most of it is available through Who knows, you may find more video resources at this website, too.
posted by Jewel98 at 8:19 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Prelinger's physical films are at the Library of Congress and Getty rep's them for commercial use. You don't need any "credentials" to search various footage vendors websites. UCLA does have a library of materials that you can arrange to view, but most of those aren't stock clips--more like older TV shows and films.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:37 AM on July 14, 2013

The answers to your questions really depend a lot on what you're hoping to use the footage for and what archive or stock footage company has it.

You might find this directory of moving image collections useful, maybe.
posted by bubukaba at 1:30 PM on July 14, 2013

I think that this question probably required a self-link to make it do-able or just much more detail. I'm not complaining about the rules, just expressing that this question wasn't a great fit for askme in that way.

The footage I'm looking for is of a concert in a garden. I work in this garden.

Through the magic of memail, ideefixe was able to find a discussion in a google group of the footage in question and reveal that the clips were taken from family movies done by a relative of at least two of the performers. It was the first public performance of a particular person in the US and it took place in May of 1932. The person in the google group discussing this was one of the people who made the footage available to the person involved with the documentary - ie it was his family movie!

Thus it is unlikely that the footage is in an archive. I'm going to try to get in touch with this family member through the google group and see what happens.

Thank you all and especially ideefixe. Ideefixe totally rocks.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:51 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

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