Imagine a world without media archives…
As melodramatic as that might sound, think about it: visual and audio culture is everywhere. Film, TV, radio and digital content is created all the time; whether it’s an independent film production; a broadcast news cycle; or simply someone creating a video of a weekend away on their iPhone.
And as soon as content is produced, all of these materials become artefacts – evidence of a person or people, a point of view and an expression of the time in which they were created. When we think of the word artefact, it may traditionally conjure up images of an ancient archaeological find, or a paper document revealing historical details of lives past, but in a world as visually-oriented as ours, contemporary media is our link to the future, and one of the most important kinds of artefacts there is.
Without organisations dedicated to looking after these artefacts and making them accessible, we would lose the BFI's Shakespeare on Film retrospective; the digital remastering and blu-ray release of classic films like Criterion’s 4K restoration of Bob Dylan doc Don’t Look Now (among heaps of others). It would mean no Christmas repeats of Wallace & Gromit or Fawlty Towers, and no reworking of pop culture in Elizabeth Price’s Turner Prize winning video installations.
Take the Oscar-nominated Amy by Asif Kapadia; a sensitively crafted montage of archival footage chronicling the life and untimely death of Amy Winehouse. The intimate stories that compose her short life colour and complicate the two-dimensional tabloid portrayal of the singer in a way that couldn’t be conveyed without archival home videos and personal accounts.
So where do our media archive traineeships fit in?
In 2015 we brought 14 trainee-pioneers together to undergo four weeks of class-based training and 20 weeks of work placements across the UK. And today we're excited to launch applications for our 2016 traineeships.
Our 2015 cohort experienced what life is like in the worlds of commercial digital archives, regional public film archives, production company libraries, and the depths of broadcasters’ back catalogues. They learned about the spectrum of roles and responsibilities within the field: from the art of cataloguing and the technical skills needed for restoration to the commercial and community value of recycling historical images.
Each trainee had an experienced mentor who was able to give them another layer of insight into what it takes to work in the industry. Moreover, they learned from each other as a group as they progressed along their individual paths as budding archivists. The peer support of a tight-knit group was invaluable – and I hope created long-term friendships.
Media archivists play a vital role in connecting us to the past and preserving our own stories for the future. Projects like Film London’s KinoVan connect communities to their local heritage with a mixture of old home movies and other gems from the archive.
So if the above intrigues you – and if the thought of providing a link to our shared histories can inspire you into action – you should consider applying for one of our coveted 2016 trainee positions. We’ll be working with another fantastic range of host employers and mentors who are already excited to meet our 2016 cohort.
Watch the video or just click the link below right now to find out more and apply if you would like to join us!