Great success for the event launch of the EnDOW Community. Around 70 people have attended our workshop on the 18th of November to understand how to become a volunteer in this project, which aims to help digitisation of video and movies in the British Film Archive in London. As professor Maurizio Borghi from Bournemouth University explained in his introduction, the copyright might be a blessing or a curse for creators. For orphan works in particular it is mostly a curse, because films and books can’t be shared and made available to the public, unless a diligent search is done to recognise that the copyright owner cannot be found. But now a diligent search tool has been created to help public institution to set films free. The core of the EnDOW Community is actually a pilot scheme to use it on the archive of BFI, with the ambition to reach afterwords more archives and hidden “gems”.
But why is important to unlock orphan films? In order to explain why, the EnDOW Community project has created a video, written and directed by Bartolomeo Meletti (Worth Knowing Productions) with the special participation of filmmaker Mark Cousins. The video has been presented in a premiere during our launch event and it’s available to watch on our website. During the premiere, Bartolomeo Meletti has also told the participants how it has been realised and what is the purpose of it.
This purpose is actually quite important, as pointed out clearly by the presentation made by Claudy op den Kamp, of Bournemouth University. “Public film archives are not Suisse banks but birthplaces” she said out loud, confirming the idea that the future of cinema can’t be disconnected by its past. There are independent silent era films, anthropologic films and even scientific footages that might be food for thought for contemporary filmmakers, if only they were available to watch. Therefore, these orphan works are a true treasure that should be in the public domain and are really worthy of all the effort that the EnDOW community will spend to unlock them.
After her presentation, Annie Shaw, from the BFI, gave a demonstration of how the diligent search tool works. A way to get how easy it is to contribute to the EnDOW Community. To become a volunteer there is no minimum commitment, because everyone can help for as much time as they have, from 5 minutes to five days or months. Again, volunteers are allowed to make mistakes, because at the end of their search there will be a check run by the experts at Bfi and it will be possible to amend flaws. Finally, who chooses to be part of this challenging project will not be left alone. As Marcella Favale, senior researcher at Bournemouth University, has explained, in fact, on our website there are lots of facilities to help out in the process: video tutorials, diligent search manual and a dedicated discussion forum.
Together the volunteers will be stronger and more efficient: a coral effort to boost culture and access to film heritage!