Tuesday 29 March 2011

more reflections on working in a film archive

I've been thinking more about what I've learned whilst working at Wessex Film and Sound Archive, and the things I listed in my last post on the subject.  One thing I didn't really touch upon but which is really the biggest revelation for me was that maybe my idea that a film archive is where I want to work in the long-term isn't necessarily as set in stone as I thought.

For years my ultimate goal in terms of where I would like to work long-term is in a film archive.  However after my, admittedly very limited, experience of working for five months in a film archive I realised that without all the paper records and research I'd be lost!  I understand that when films come into a general archive (such as John Grierson films at the Stirling University Archive) then it makes sense to pass them to a specialist film archive where they will have the skills and equipment to look after the films and make them available.  However this often means separating the films from the paper records that tell us about the creation/inspiration behind the films.  Again I understand this, specialist film archives don't have the space to look after all the paper records relating to the filmmaker.  Obviously they'll keep accession records relating to the films, and in WFSA there are also paper records created by the filmmakers or their families, such as cataloguing notes, photographs, biographical information.  However these paper records are considered secondary to the films, which in a way they are, although in my view they're also essential in understanding the context of the creation of the films.  A qualification I'll make here is that as a project worker, I know I have had the luxury of full-time devotion to cataloguing which of course means much more time to research each film, including looking at the related paper records.  If I was a permanent member of staff at WFSA, or in any Film archive, there would be so many things competing for time, such as enquiries, researchers, administration tasks, reports, funding applications etc.  Also, from the other direction, if the filmmaker is well known and their films are available on DVD then it isn't necessary for those working with the paper records of the filmmaker to have access to the original films themselves... Unless, of course, the films have been cut/altered.   Or also, as with the Lindsay Anderson Archive at Stirling University, there are so many unmade films discussed in the paper archives that of course you would never know about if you were only looking at the films themselves.  It seems like every line I write here has at least one qualification so I guess it indicates that my mind is still a bit muddled.

Ultimately working in a film archive has just convinced me even more of my love of archives, film and paper, and my ambition to continue working with both - yes, I want to have my cake and eat it!

I am enjoying my four days off now before I start my new job (which I will post about once I start) and have more nice plans for my time off.  Spending some time with a friend before she moves home (it's great to have time to spend with her, and am excited for her plans for the future, but of course it'll be bittersweet too as having only just lived in the same city again for 6 months I'm going to miss her!) One of my other plans is to continue the sewing/crafting I have started with the draft excluder I made.  Now, given that it took me months to make then it isn't a very auspicious start but I hope that my sewing skills, and my concentration/dedication will improve as time goes on.  In order to give myself a kick-start I thought I'd start another blog for my crafty goings-ons and inspirations - however I've yet to come up with a name for said blog, yet again not a very good start - and... I haven't done anything crafty! 

I've got back into cooking the past two days instead.  Yesterday was Refried Beans and Smoked Mackerel Tostadas, courtesy of Thomasina Mier's excellent book, Mexican Food Made Simple', which turned out great, as all the recipes from her book have.  Today I've just finished making Chana Daal and Saag Paneer - of course, it's important to taste as you go along so I can already confirm that dinner tonight is going to be a good one.  Maybe I'll get started on a crafty/sewing project on Thursday!


  1. More cooking please. kthanksbye.


  2. Ha ha! Maybe if I start doing some sewing there won't be so much time for cooking! Though I think you do deserve a break from doing all the cooking, plus I am enjoying it. None today though as I'm off to Liberty stationery store and John Lewis - yay!