Introduction

Introduction

An invitation to help the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) produce a film for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference was my crash course in the field of archival storytelling. What I learned is that finding the right stuff is a bit like being a detective. It requires… [Read the rest]

Starting your research

Starting your research

After accepting the EEMP invitation, one of my first stops naturally was the GMU library—specifically, the online Film & Media Studies InfoGuide, which offers a primer on research, with steps that range from finding background material for your topic to evaluating what you find. There’s also… [Read the rest]

The mother lode: NARA

The mother lode: NARA

The front page of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website unequivocally states: “Democracy Starts Here.”

That may be true enough. But not quite—at least, when it comes to searching for film archives. To do that, you have to drill a little deeper down into the… [Read the rest]

Other archival sources

Other archival sources

Archives can be found just about anywhere. Somebody’s family video stuck in the attic. Photos of a trade group’s monthly meetings. Clips of a community organization’s annual parade. A local historical society’s records stuffed in some file cabinet. Or the slick database of a commercial archive. The only boundary… [Read the rest]

Archival best practices

Archival best practices

Proper use of archival material isn’t just a matter of downloading, or even paying for it. It’s also important to understand the context of a photo or film. That may mean getting in touch with an archival association dealing with that subject. Or learning the guidelines for analyzing third-party… [Read the rest]

Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright and Fair Use

At the heart of the Fair Use principle—the idea that there are times when you don’t need someone’s permission to use part of their material in something you’re publishing—is Section 107 of U.S. copyright law. It has four basic elements, as laid out by the U.S. Copyright Office:… [Read the rest]

Further reading

Further reading

Some other helpful guides:

Archival Survival: The Fundamentals of Using Film Archives and Stock Footage Libraries“: A step-by-step guide for finding and acquiring material by the archivist and filmmaker, Rick Prelinger, who founded the Prelinger Archives, a collection of more than 60,000 “ephemeral” (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur)… [Read the rest]