Since the American Genre Film Archive is in need of attention for funding in order to save all sorts of cinematic goodies, I figured it was about time to write a little about what film archives are. Or, I guess, archives in general. But I prefer the film ones. Contrary to popular belief, archivists are not librarians. And archives are not libraries. We are also not a museum. Our shit is organized in vaults, while shit in a museum is completely out in the open. Don’t let this unknown terrain steer you away from the gold mine that is the archives, though. Archives house a freaking plethora of shit no one really knows about until we do all sorts of archive stuff with it and then do some sort of outreach to let folks know. Here’s a little bit about what we do, filmed by myself and a friend.
We’re not the only ones who think archive shit is cool. Just about any film nerd, all over the world, promotes preserving film. With this digital era, which has its pros and cons, we film folks are trying to get through all of our film stock to make it all known before the black hole of the digital world swallows us. We don’t just go through film stock; we go through VHS, Betacam, 3/4 in Umatic, and a freaking shit ton of other formats that make this job all the more extensive. British Pathe archives released their entire film collection—85,000 films—onto YouTube this past April. Thanks to them we can all procrastinate and view footage like this cute dog video. And this cute baby chick video.
Let’s be real: Who doesn’t want to sit around and watch bizarre English animal videos all day? But besides being good entertainment, this type of stuff is actually great primary source material for research. Which is all of what archives are. Primary source shit. All that shit that your professors force you to find to have a solid research or analytical paper. That’s where you find it. At the archives. I repeat. You find original ideas at the archives.
But, circling back to the American Genre Film Archive, I’m not saying go and give a bunch of money to them; clearly, I don’t have any money to give away either. But these film archives, and archives in general, benefit from the traffic going in and out of their buildings or websites. So this is more of a message to check it out, see what it’s about. They have rare horror films on 35mm film stock. They loan their films to libraries, film societies, festivals and universities for other people to enjoy and appreciate what they’re preserving. Badass Digest recently wrote and article with a small video about the whole spiel on how great the American Genre Film Archive is, and what it’s all about, and blah blah blah. Check it out.
I’m not saying everyone go be a film archivist and donate all of your funds and only support film archives. But I am saying that you will definitely find some great stuff in these vaults that aren’t libraries or museums. If not for research, than for absolute pure entertainment.
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