Winner of Apple iTouch

Steve Chibnall, Professor of British Cinema at De Montfort University, is the winner of the Apple iTouch. In an informal ceremony Murray Weston, Chief Executive of the British Universities Film & Video Council, pulled the lucky slip of paper out of a large paper clip container earlier today.

The Chibnall British Cinema Collection is a private archive of around 10,000 artefacts, primarily consisting of posters, lobby cards, stills, scripts and especially press books (c. 2000), forms the principal resource of the communal archive of the British Cinema and Television Research Goup which functions within De Montfort University’s Faculty of Humanities. Particular elements of interest within it are a few 1930s set designs by Alfred Junge for BIP (original photographs for set construction) and material owned by the late historians Denis Gifford and John Huntley. Research access to the collection is by appointment only.


Odeon Cinemas 1935-39

Odeon Cinema, Parsons Hill, Woolwich, London

Odeon Cinema, Parsons Hill, Woolwich, London, October 1937. Reference no: BB87/03661. Copyright English Heritage. NMR.

The National Monuments Record, the public archive of English Heritage, holds a wide range of collections covering the built and archaeological landscape from the prehistoric period to the cold war. Photographs form the largest part of our holdings and a number of these feature cinemas. The most important group is a collection of 1200 photographs taken by John Maltby of Odeon cinemas in England between 1935 and 1939. Together they form a remarkable visual record of the interior and exterior design of this chain of cinemas, which formed such a part of the everyday experience of people from that time. All of these images can be viewed via the Viewfinder database.

Peter Handford

One of the most innovative exponents of sound location shooting, Peter Handford, died last month at the age of 88. His work on British New Wave films such as Room at the Top and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning established him as a master of his craft which was eventually recognised in semi-retirement with an Academy Award in 1985 for his work on Out of Africa. Tony Sloman has written far more fully about his life and career in today’s Independent which also mentions his numerous sound recordings of steam trains. This collection now resides in the National Railway Museum in York.

Artefacts and Art

An area that is often pushed to the periphery in discussions of moving image artefacts is that of art works and installations. The irony here is that this material is usually at the cutting edge in the production and presentation of screen related media and perhaps should be more at the forefront of our minds. The National Portrait Gallery possesses a number of examples of which this portrait of Susan Greenfield is one.

NPG 6526 Susan Adele Greenfield by Tom Phillips

NPG 6526 Susan Adele Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield
by Tom Phillips courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London

This portrait is composed of computer-processed drawings and video and uses moving image to re-interpret portraiture for the twenty-first century. Other ‘time-based’ portraits in the collection include Sam Taylor-Wood’s digital film of David Beckham. Other ‘objects’ relating to these works, such as documentation are also retained by the Gallery as part of the collection.

The deadline for the Screen Heritage Network’s survey of moving image and screen-related artefacts in UK collections has been extended by one week to Friday 7 December 2007. The survey is open to any UK collection with artefacts relating to the moving image and screen-related media which may be accessible to the public or researchers. All organisations who submit a completed survey will be entered into a draw to win a 16GB Apple iTouch, the revolutionary touch-screen iPod with web browser – the screen heritage of tomorrow.

Organisations that have already submitted a complete survey will be included in the draw. Only one entry per organisation will be accepted. Organisations must be from the UK. Current member organisations of the Screen Heritage Network are not eligible.

A report by Ian MacDonald, on the symposium held at Roehampton University on 22 September to discuss the future of screen heritage in the UK, is now available from the MeCCSA website.

Brian Coe

Brian Coe

Brian Coe (Stephen Herbert collection)

Sadly, last month saw the death of Brian Coe, one of the most important figures in the preservation and documentation of the UK’s screen heritage in the last century. Brian was Curator of the Kodak Museum 1969-1984, then Curator at the Royal Photographic Society in Bath, before joining the Museum of the Moving Image in 1989 as its special events co-ordinator. He instituted several important exhibitions on photography and cinematography, and his many publications in the field have remained standard works. In particular his book The History of Movie Photography (1981) is the indispensible guide to its subject. It is a clear and authoritative guide to optical toys, magic lanterns, chronophotograph, professional and sub-standard film formats, colour cinematography, home movies, sound recording etc. Published twenty-six years ago, it is much relied upon by archivists and museum curators, and strongly recommended to anyone seeking a reliable, single guide to cinema technology before the digital age.