The BFI has opened a new Master Film Store at Gaydon in Warwickshire as part of its £22.8m Screen Heritage UK (SHUK) programme, funded by the DCMS.
The Master Film Store, which is in addition to the BFI’s existing archive site in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, will house up to 450,000 cans of film ranging from the early works of Mitchell and Kenyon to The King’s Speech.
The £12m state of the art, environmentally sustainable facility has been built on a disused military installation and will use green technologies to keep the films at a temperature of minus 5 degrees and 35% relative humidity, the optimum conditions for preserving films which could deteriorate if not kept in the right storage conditions.
The fire resistant site consists of six large acetate film stores and 30 smaller nitrate stores in a building of just under 3,000 square metres. The building process, which began last October, has been captured on film by Patrick Keiller.
As part of the Screen Hertiage UK programme, which launches on September 5 at the BFI Southbank, the BFI and the nine regional film archives across the UK have teamed up to launch a new online cataloguing service – Search Your Film Archives – aimed at enabling the UK public to find out for the first time about where they can access films and about their local film heritage. The online database will have around 330,000 records.
SHUK programme director and the BFI’s creative director Heather Stewart revealed that the BFI’s originally aim was to make the films available to be viewed online, but funding restrictions has meant that only a small number of the films will currently be available to watch.
Meanwhile regional screen agency Screen Yorkshire is overseeing a “revitalising the regions” (RTR) project to support archive collections in the UK regions. The £3.6m programme aims to make the archive collections in the regions more accessible to audiences.
The RTR programme will include moving the South West film and television collection (of over 120,000 items) to new storage conditions and cataloguing over 22,000 previously inaccessible items.
Other activities will include securing a new base for the Media Archive of Central London at the University of Lincoln, digitising film to make it available online and undertaking conversation work on critical items at risk of decay.
The Yorkshire Film Archive is also launching a new programme, Memory Bank, which aims to create a collection of archive material to be used by health professionals in treating patients suffering from dementia/
‘Through Screen Heritage UK the film archives of Britain have joined forces to truly take film archiving to the next level. Film is an integral part of British culture and SHUK will ensure that we not only safe-guard our film heritage for future generations but that everyone in the UK gets the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from it.” said Stewart.