Archive Researchers

Featuring: Lisa Savage, Sydney

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You have been working with archives since 1990. How did you first become an archive researcher and producer?

I was working as a recruiter in a temp agency for the entertainment industry and I was useless! My boss asked me where I would like to work, what I would like to do so I said I’d like to work in the television industry. There was a job opening for a film researcher on a program called Beyond 2000. I went to the interview, got the job and 5 years later I went freelance. 

You are based in Australia. What are some great opportunities and benefits you have when working on international projects?

Australia can be quite limited due to funding requirements and working with international companies means I am working on a variety of subjects and searching in different archives. Plus it is always fun working with new people.  

How do you feel that you have grown as an archive/researcher from 1990 until now, compared to 5 years ago and now?

I think production companies/ad agencies etc. are learning that archive producers/researchers may be more expensive then doing the research themselves but we end up being more value for money. Many times I have been called in last minute to work on a TVC because the client has not been able to find the best footage and they’ve already spent a few days to even weeks trying. Also, archive producers/researchers with years of experience have good relationships with providers, know how to negotiate etc. Researchers, like me, with pre-internet experience are an asset because they know how to think out of the box – ‘just because it is not online does not mean it doesn’t exist’..

How different, or the same, is your relationship to directors and screenwriters when working on film projects for documentaries as opposed to a television commercial?

It really depends on who you are working for, the team. That comes down to personalities and how the person works. I’ve worked on ads where I am left alone and then I have worked on ads where I am working with the producer very closely. Same with directors. I don’t really have anything to do with screenwriters. 

Can you tell us a bit about your current project?

Right now I am working on 5 separate projects. This is my life and it works as I work better when under work stress. I can’t give you any specifics except for 1) documentary about a famous celebrity 2) V&A Exhibition 3) three ad campaigns – TV and online.

What has been the most unique archival footage you have found, and for what project was it for?

In all honesty I can’t remember! When I work on a project I become absorbed in that project. Depending on what the project is, I can be a great dinner party guest 🙂 Then when that project is done my brain moves on to the next project so I forget unless I need to remember. 27 years is a long time to try to remember the most unique footage 🙂

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