The WIF Legacy Series And The UCLA Film & Television Archive
September was a robust month for the UCLA Film & Television Archive, a division of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Not only was their involvement in preserving 75 recently repatriated “lost films” announced by the Academy of Arts and Sciences at the beginning of September, they also were awarded the 2010 Special Medallion at the 2010 Telluride Film Festival. The award was presented to the UCLA Film and Television Archive for their “commitment to film preservation and artful programming.”
The UCLA Film & Television Archive is fully integrated with the film world at large. They rent out nitrate film storage space to the Academy, all Sundance Film Festival selections are stored in the library, and they’re committed to groups as diverse as the Directors Guild of America and OutFest. Students and academic researchers have full access to their academic center and website, where entire films can be downloaded for free. The general public is also invited to enjoy the fruits of the archive by participating in regular screening series presented at the Billy Wilder Theater.
“We are the second largest archive after the Library of Congress,” said Jan-Christoper Horak, Director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. “We harbor a collection of the history of film and filmmakers, and their work on film productions. Our material comes from a number of cooperative agreements with a variety of important organizations. And, we have a standing offer to all independent producers – they can donate material to us at any time.”
The Women in Film Foundation Legacy Series documents the personal and creative worlds of exceptional women involved in film production. Their trailblazing accomplishments-both in front of and behind the camera–paved the way for subsequent generations of women working in the film and television industries. The filmed interviews of these extraordinary women are part of the legacies being preserved in a special Women In Film (WIF) Archive at the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
411 recently spoke with Barbara Boyle, the Chair of Television, Film and Digital Media at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television to discuss the Women in Film Foundation Legacy Series and this summer’s Master Class guest, editor Anne Coates.
411: Why incorporate a focus on women in film? Why is that important to your students?
Barbara Boyle: Well, traditionally, peoples have recorded their own history. So, if you start with the Egyptians or the Romans or the English, any kind of group, they by and large recorded their lives. The “Legacy Series” presented by Women in Film started with just that proposition. If no one records the woman’s historical influences in film, and if we ourselves don’t do it, who’s going to do it? And who’s going to do it with our particular point of view? Others may do it from a completely other point of view, and as we know, history is perception. So, we wanted the perception of the women working in the industry through the beginning of the industry.
411: I’m curious if this summer’s guest professor, Anne Coates, had a unique experience being a female editor during a time when the craft was dominated by men, or if, to her, the career path was not unusual.
BB: It is very much parallel to my own history because I went to UCLA Law School. There were four women in my class and 150 guys. I didn’t think it was awkward, I wanted to be a lawyer. The world may have regarded me as odd, as unique, because I had a male credential and it didn’t seem odd to me. It is only in retrospect that any of us as old as I am or as Annie is, are asked these questions, because when you are in the process of doing something you are determined, committed, passionate about doing it. You don’t really say ‘Am I doing something that is really odd? Am I doing something that society won’t really except?’ It never occurred to me to ask her that.
411: Well, that brings another question up: seeing you are Chair to the Film, Television, and Digital Media Department, do you have students coming up to you who report having trouble breaking into positions or finding jobs?
BB: We take 21 students a year and we have about 700 applicants. A little more than half of the applicants were men, and about 48-49% women. We admitted 52% women last year. So it is interesting. Now what happens to them as they move into the industry is the next part of the study. You know, the last two to three years have been a difficult time in the world, having to deal with employment and economics and everything else. I think that it isn’t so much that it’s women now having this difficulty but people of color. From my own perceptions, we haven’t come far enough in these areas in our country and our industry. I’m very interested in doing a study that I hope I can effectuate this year about the money that’s been spent on diversity programs by the studios and the networks.
411: Who are the students that are invited to be part of the program?
BB: We open it to all interested students. It wasn’t really a selection process, because we could have accommodated more students. Obviously there were some standards: they had to be graduate students, they had to have finished at least their first year of graduate studies. We wanted a certain kind of educational experience already in place.
411: Who is teaching the program, and developing the standards for the guest professors?
BB: We were privileged because Felicia Henderson, who is one of our own MFA graduates and a friend, and a brilliant writer/producer, and a member of Women in Film, and one of the people with whom I dreamed up this program, said “‘I’ll do it!’ So now you have an African American woman teaching this class. She is brilliant.
411: How long has this particular program been going on for?
BB: The Legacy series has been going on for twenty years. It was started by Ilene Kahn Power and Dorothea Petrie twenty-one years ago with the idea of ‘Why aren’t we preserving our own history? And we decided. ‘O.K., let’s select an actress.’ You can see Eva Marie Saint’s movies. How about asking her what it was like to work with Elia Kazan right after he named names during the McCarthy era? What was it like to work with Marlon Brando? It’s a different kind of thing than seeing her in the movie. That was the idea. And of course, they are not talking heads because we shoot them, so the footage is very imaginatively edited: we show footage, we interview other people the Legacy guest has worked with , so they are quite comprehensive little biographical films.
411: In regards to archiving the series, is it your intention that eventually everyone can have access to this footage in addition to students and academics doing research?
BB: Our archives are not limited to our school at all. We have scholars all round the world accessing them. The curiosity about, and the interest in women’s studies, whether it is the criticism or the inspiration, whatever it is, the entire archive and the resources are open to people everywhere. It is great. The archives has all kinds of footage that is absolutely there for study, for viewing, for all kinds of positive reinforcement issues, and that was the whole point. It just seems incredible to have this here.
To learn more about the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Women in Film Legacy Series, please visit: