Make Film History (BBC)
by Mark Macey, BBC
As cultural heritage organisations digitise their collections and increase public access, moving image portals like the IFI Player, RTÉ Archives, BFI Player and BBC iPlayer provide audiences with virtual screening rooms to view their shared audiovisual history on demand. But the creative reuse of moving image archive material remains problematic, beset by questions of copyright law, rights clearance and “fair dealing” exceptions, and an archives sector without a standardised framework to open up access to this material for creative reuse by young filmmakers in education. Young people cannot access this material without significant funding from film funds or broadcasters to pay commercial license fees.
The Make Film History (MFH) initiative, launched in early to mid 2020 addresses this problem by providing a new, sustainable model for the creative reuse of archive material by young filmmakers for educational purposes. The project offers audiovisual archives a low-risk framework for long-term collaboration with stakeholders working with young filmmakers in education. It explores questions of how to license archive material to young filmmakers for creative reuse in education and widen access to hidden culturally diverse heritage; how to encourage educators and schools to engage with this material and integrate archive-inspired filmmaking projects into digital literacy and creative arts programmes; how to develop a code of best practice for educators around the licensed and unlicensed use of copyrighted audiovisual material in the classroom and through schools, colleges, universities and training schemes developing new talent in the creative industries; what kinds of archive content can deepen students’ engagement with the curriculum; enriches learning journeys and provides a voice for under-represented areas of the community and explores how creative reuse of our collective audiovisual history be effectively shared with the community.
UK project partners are the British Film Institute (BFI), BBC Archive Editorial and Northern Ireland Screen. Irish partners are the Irish Film Institute (IFI). Collaboration of British and Irish partners facilitates cross-border knowledge exchange and resource-sharing. Other network participants include regional archives, film festivals and training organisations, who draw on regional hubs of archive material to develop workshops and archive-led filmmaking projects, while also collaborating with international partners on collections themed around borders, migration and other thematics of mutual interest. The project includes three early career researchers – a Co-I and two post-doctoral researchers. The initiatives are funded by AHRC and the Irish Research Council. The project team have long track records of working with archive material on creative projects.
Hundreds of films and programmes which cover a variety of genres, time periods and themes. Partners will continue to add hundreds more pieces of content over the next years to come. Around 75 UK colleges (FE) and universities (HE) with film-making and media departments so far signed up to the MfH initiative. Once licensed by an educational institution (for the next 10 years), the films can be downloaded by tutors for use in the classroom, on campus or online. Students browse the project website, choose an archive film to respond to and request download access to the film, integrating clips of up to 2 minutes into their own documentaries.