25 July 2018
It is with great sadness and regret that we inform you of the passing of Alison Mercer. A much loved and admired colleague and friend to so many in the industry, Alison will be sorely missed by all. The Clips & Footage collection is a lasting legacy to Alison’s creativity and tenacity, it has been a privilege to run it on her behalf. Having worked as a researcher prior to founding Clips & Footage many of you will have worked closely with Alison throughout her long and impressive career and will want to pay your respects.
There will be a celebration of Alison’s life and work on 11th September at 2.30pm in London, the family have asked that you let them know via firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend.
Alison’s family have opened a fundraising page in her memory if you wish to make a donation https://macmillan.tributefunds.com/alison-lynch-bell---mercer
Tributes & Memories
FOCAL International valued working with Alison Mercer – her enthusiasm for archive film was catching. She was always an active member of FOCAL – offering a work placement for our Skillset trainees and initiating the brilliant idea of an archive film festival linked to the FOCAL awards.
Alison began her time in the footage world about 30 years ago - working for Film Images as a researcher (having been trained by the great Kate Newington) working on about twelve documentaries a year for Bandung – this fed her love of film. Recognising this, Film Images asked her to build a “British collection “for them to compliment Archive Films and Energy. Subsequent changes in ownership of these collections provided an opportunity to take redundancy – quite a risk given that Alison was a single parent... but she took the plunge with 3 months wages, one VHS player (bought at a car boot sale!) and no film, 20 years ago Alison set up “Clips and Footage”! At this time Hollywood based documentaries were flourishing, so contacts with Tony Dalton and Tim Nicholson and SABUCAT were really useful as she began acquiring feature film trailers, supporting herself by working as a freelance film researcher.
From her research experience Alison had a good idea of what would sell – wacky cartoons, quaint industry training films, out of copyright old feature films -science fiction, westerns mainly from American dealers, and eclectic collections representation deals with archives such as Lobster Films.
Alison attracted people with a similar interest in or obsession with archive footage to work with her – “we thought it was like working in a time machine. “ she said “ To me the whole point of our archive work is about sharing our enthusiasm and making it all accessible, so that it can be enjoyed by others.”
Alison ran a very successful business on the back of her amazing enthusiasm for archive and admiration for “our wonderful researchers “.
I interviewed Alison for ArchiveZones magazine, not long after her diagnosis was made. I think these words of hers sum up Alison’s inspiring attitude to our business -” it is not just about making money – it is about enjoying the archive footage. It is the human stories behind the archive that interest me. The real commodity in this business is the people – however good your database is you still need human knowledge and passion to curate the content and bring it alive.” Sue Malden, FOCAL International
Dear Alison was a lady of kindness, inspiration and generosity. Since twenty five plus years ago in Islington, when we chewed over all things archival, gosh I learned so much from her. She had fresh ideas and new ways of looking at things with her company Clips and Footage and over it all such a passion for historic film and how it was used. It was her researcher background that made her see clearer than someone like me and that is why I admired her so much. I remember when she won the Focal award she said it was a privilege to work in this industry, she was right and it was people like her who made it so. She was warm hearted and generous to a fault. I’m so very sad we have lost her and feel so sorry for her husband and Lily, she fought so hard, stayed so positive and leaves a legacy so deep. Amanda Huntley