Archive Researchers

Featuring: James McDonald, London

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How did you become an archive researcher?

I’ve been working with archival footage since I was producing and directing educational documentaries for the Open University / BBC and other institutions. Since then I’ve specialised in managing archive on feature documentaries and dramas. 

It seems you have a passion for music! How do you manage to combine your passion with your work as an archive producer?

I have a passion for music which I combine with my passion for film by working on music-themed films but also by volunteering my time by advising some music charities on how to run their film projects, data and archives.  

You worked on an incredible project about Zimbabwean Rock Bands of the 70s, it sounds very intriguing!

Yes! One of the most challenging briefs I’ve worked on is a feature doc about the unknown Zimbabwean rock bands of the 1970s. Working with our producer in Zimbabwe and our consultant in LA, we finally tracked down the only known footage on one of the bands appearing on Rhodesian Television. The footage hadn’t been seen for decades and is in a private collection in Gloucestershire! Obvs!

What is the last project you have worked on?

My latest project is a feature documentary about the band Oasis (not the shop Oasis) with the producers of Amy and Senna. Like those films, it’s archive-based and, like the band, will capture an aspect of 90’s culture in Britain. 

Any topics you would dream to work on?

My dream projects would be a combination of culture, politics, psychology, history and humour.  But I’m interested in being part of any good story being well told. 

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