Archive footage and rights

cropped-screen-shot-2013-09-27-at-9-01-58-amFor our doc ’22 years later’ archive footage will play a huge role. The family have offered to give us various pieces of intimate archive material of ‘Afo’ and his loved ones before and after his death. This footage will be used respectfully and ethically for the betterment of our film, it will also add a certain level of authenticity and realism to the documentary. I am also on the hunt for archive material of a T.V news bulletin in the year that ‘Afo’ sadly passed, to use at beginning of my film to help give the documentary some context and to set the scene. ‘Incorporating archival footage into your documentary film can bring a level of authenticity unmatched by other means, furthering the film’s impact and reach’ (‘RECAP: Doc U’ 2012) The importance of archive footage can not be denied, especially in a documentary where the actual incident happened over 22 years ago. The audience are going to want to gather a feel of film, they will want to know how it was like back then and how the world of the film differs from now in comparison to 1994. Archive footage will be a fantastic method to show them that drastic change.

When it comes to external material there is a lot of red tape which we will have to clear to avoid legal issues especially as we want to use the film for commercial purposes also. ‘If you have not obtained the footage from the original author then you may be at risk of a copyright infringement action against you’ (‘Filmmaking guide’ 2016). We may face some problems with gathering permission for the content as it is relatively old, but we will endeavour to do so at the most convenient price possible. It would be a huge risk to use the footage without permission so if we are not able to obtain permission we my have to aurally reproduce a live news bulletin from 1994. Other than that there are also social, professional and moral aspects to take into account. It will take the gloss off my film if fellow film makers found out we were using footage which we do not have the permission to use. For these reasons as well as the potential legal action we may avoid using the footage all together if we can not strike a good deal with the owners.

All in all I am extremely happy I carried out this research into the use of archive footage as if I didn’t I may of walked into this aspect of the film blindly and landed myself in some legal trouble. There are a lot of ins and outs whilst dealing with people’s property and my new recent findings on the situation has some what deterred me from using the content unless we absolutely need it. In saying this I will try to make it happen alongside the help of our producer for the film Adewale Shittu.


Katherine Relth. (2012). RECAP: Doc U: Using Archival Footage in Your Film. Available: Last accessed 20TH Feb 2016.

Film network. (2016). filmmaking guide – Legal FAQs. Available: Last accessed 20TH Feb 2016.



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