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Jane Mercer Training Award goes to FOCAL's Training Week Delegate - Full Report

1 August 2007

Jane Mercer Training Award goes to FOCAL's Training Week delegate

The recipient of the Jane Mercer Training Award this year was Fiona Kelly. Intended to provide assistance to those wishing to further their professional development in the footage industry and its associated areas, this is the second year that money has been disbursed from the fund set up in memory of FOCAL's former Chair. Fiona applied for the funding so that she could participate in FOCAL International's annual Footage Training Week which was held early in June. Closing date for 2007-2008 applications 31 August 2007. For information and application form

Fiona Kelly - recipient of the Jane Mercer Training Award for 2007

I was delighted to find out that I had been awarded this year’s bursary from the Jane Mercer Memorial Fund to attend the FOCAL International Footage Training week.
With a history degree and experience of working in several museums and archives, I decided to marry my twin passions of film and history by working in film archives. After a career break (bringing up my two children) I started on a work experience placement at Huntley Film Archives with a view to applying for the MA in Film with Archiving at the University of East Anglia. I also started working as a volunteer at the Imperial War Museum Film Archive. I recently joined FOCAL International as an Associate member and was very excited to hear about the industry-recognised Training Week planned for June.
The Training Week was immensely beneficial in increasing my understanding of how various film archives operate -from huge corporations such as the BBC and ITN to smaller archives such as The Wellcome Trust and British Movietonews. As well as furthering my knowledge of film technology, formats and conservation the week gave me a greater understanding of issues such as copyright, digitisation and access. Attending the course at this early stage in my career was invaluable, giving me the chance to learn more about the practical and theoretical aspects of film archiving. I am very grateful to FOCAL International for awarding me the bursary and for continuing Jane Mercer’s commitment to training within the footage industry.

International delegates enjoy an intensive week of footage training

FOCAL International's 9th annual Footage Training Week was attended by 10 media professional delegates from Europe and North America:

Jonathan Griffiths - IMG Media Archive, UK
Tom Carleton - IMG Media Archive, UK
Rosemary Rotondi - Archive Researcher, USA
Megan McLeod - Researcher, Canada
Pedro Tiago da Silva - SIC, Portugal
Margarida Ribeiro Rosa - SIC, Portugal
Tory Harte - National Maritime Museum, UK
Graeme Boyd - Greenpeace International, The Netherlands
Fiona Kelly - Film Archive Assistant, UK
Steve Gray - Photographer, UK

(Above) some of the delegates attending this year's FOCAL International Footage Training Week

A visit to the bfi's National Film and Television John Paul Getty Conservation Archive Centre at Berkhamsted was another highlight of the week.

(Above and below) seriously decomposed 35mm footage - some examples shown to delegates of what can happen when film stock is not stored correctly!

Delegates later revealed that for them the highlight of the NFTVA tour was the print archive (below) which inlcudes film scripts and related memorabilia.

Experienced archive researchers, Declan Smith, James Smith and Adrian Wood, gave an informal overview of footage research in their session End to End Research. Topics covered: sources and research tools, budgets and schedules, third party clearances, licensing and transfers plus Fair Dealing. They had plenty of examples of problems they had encountered in their long careers and how they had learnt to overcome them.

"captivating from start to finish" Tom Carleton

Cataloguing, digital asset management, online search and delivery systems were covered during tours of the ITN Source and BBC archives, The Wellcome Trust and British Movietonews libraries. The contrasting size of these establishements was significant, but the issues facing each quite similar.

Barry Florin, MD British Movietonews (above), stands amongst the cobwebs in his nitrate vault, in stark contrast to sitting in front of his new 'state of the art' digital online search and delivery system (below)

The Training Week is designed for those already working in the area of footage but who need a broader perspective and rounding off of their knowledge base. The training schedule covered topics such as: the history of film and tape formats and the technical production processes involving footage, together with hands-on experience of film handling, lacing up machines, splicing and joining up footage. Visits to various well known footage libraries and the bfi's National Film and Television John Paul Getty Conservation Archive Centre gave an introduction to film and tape storage, preservation and cataloguing. The basics of footage research, principles of rights clearance and international Copyright Law affecting the footage industry were also covered, rounding off with the producer's perspective on using archive footage and the misuse of footage in factual documentaries.

The Technical Management of Archive Film and Video presented by experts at the Imperial War Museum was the perfect starting point for the week's training. Delegates were given a detailed history of film, video and sound formats and a chance to handle some of the materials introduced.

Through a series of hands-on sessions they were then guided through the basics of how to lace up a Steenbeck, how to identify different formats and how to splice and join up film. If there was one criticism it was that there was too much information to take in!

(Above) Under the watchful eye of Giovanni Sciano, Manager Film Preservation Unit at the IWM (left) delegates edited together some sample trims with interesting results!

Restoration expert, Ben Thompson (above), shows samples of the famous Mitchell and Kenyon Collection (1900-1913) that was recently discovered and restored into an award winning compilation work by the NFTVA.

(Above) Scott Stark shows delegates one of the many impressive vaults at the John Paul Getty centre where film and tape are preserved at optimum temperature and humidity levels.

"these guys were absolutely fantastic - everything they said was interesting, relevant and inspiring!" Megan McLeod

Delegates also attended a FOCAL International conference Footage rights and opportunities in the new age of digital platforms.

A panel of footage library sales experts from Getty Images, BBC Motion Gallery, AP Archive and ITN Source, at the forefront of exploiting footage library images on the new digital platforms presented their thoughts and then discussed the do’s and don’ts of how to get the most out of footage in the new age.

Media lawyer Hubert Best of Best & Soames (below) brilliantly covered the latest rights issues and exploitation opportunities when using footage across all media platforms, including the subtle differences between claiming Fair Use in the USA and Fair Dealing in the UK. As one delegate put it: "Is there anything that Hubert doesn't know?"

(Below) Somewhat bemused, Barry Florin cannot understand why Researchers still love to go through the old card indexes!

The Producer's Perspective was presented by Steve Humphries, award winning producer/director from Testimony Films. He is passionate about people’s life stories and seeks to record them, preserve them and use them creatively in television programmes, illustrated with lots of archive footage. Steve's infectious enthusiasm for his subject combined with clips from programmes such as Forbidden Britain (BBC2), Green and Pleasant Land (Channel 4), A Secret World of Sex (BBC2) etc, gave a fascinating incite into how a documentary, heavy in archive footage, comes together from concept to delivery.

Archive producer Jerry Kuehl had the final word as he illustrated The Misuse of Footage with a series of "howlers", though admittedly the authenticity and misuse of many of the clips that were shown would have passed by many an untrained eye!

Every year the course is designed to co-incide with FOCAL International summer networking event aboard HMS Belfast.

(Above) Delegates Pedro Tiago da Silva (left) and Steve Gray take a welcome chance to relax during the hectic Training Week.

Overall comments on the week:

I honestly didn't expect to take so much away from this week so cannot thank FOCAL International enough for organising such a fantastic course. Educational, entertaining, informative and inspirational - and I've been lucky enough to meet some new and wonderful people as well!

The FOCAL administrators couldn't have made me feel more at home.

Very well organised.

I have found this course to be thoroughly interesting and enjoyable. Many thanks!

This was a packed and fascinating week, it filled a lot of gaps in my knowledge and gave a lot of good opportunities for networking.


Anne Johnson or Julie Lewis
Tel: +44 (0)20 8423 5853