What does a film archivist do?

Film archivists preserve classic Hollywood works.

Film archivists are responsible for cataloging, preserving and organizing a collection of films and the memorabilia associated with them. Since most documents and films included in a collection are old and often in poor condition, the film archivist is often responsible for preserving and making digital copies of the items. Communication is an important aspect of working on a film collection because an archivist is also needed to assist researchers in obtaining film and film production documents. Archivists are also known as moving image archivists, reflecting the variety of information they are responsible for preserving.

A film archivist can take original rolls of film, copy them and store them digitally.

Like a librarian, the film archivist is responsible for organizing information and keeping records of items in a collection. New items require positioning in the correct position in the catalog and, when used by researchers, items from the collection are replaced on shelves and document cabinets by the film archivist. Film archives are created and maintained by academic institutions, film studios and by private collectors who employ archivists to care for their collection.

The files are not just movies, but also include digital and non-digital copies of movies stored on DVD, CD, and videotapes. Documents that are also maintained by film archives include screenplays, production schedules, still images, and various other memorabilia associated with the film industry. In carrying out their duties, the film archivist is usually responsible for organizing and preserving photographic and paper documents. Archivists should also be familiar with preservation software and techniques to ensure that records are retained for future generations as hard copies and digital versions.

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Before becoming a film archivist, a comprehensive education must be completed, which includes completing an undergraduate degree in English, history, or the associated humanities. Graduate studies generally include library courses and additional education in preservation techniques. Along with completing an academic education, each film archivist must be a good communicator, able to assist researchers and seek out new material for the collection.

Film archiving is important as films, documentaries and television shows are seen as a social document that reflects the period in which the film was made. In the first half of the 20th century, film production was seen as a quick, disposable form of entertainment that was rarely preserved for future reference. In the second half of the year, however, films began to be seen as an art form and an important part of the culture in which they were created.

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