Moving Image Archive Report – Grow Your Own Cinema

Morvern Cunningham, our Grow Your Own Cinema Project Officer reports on her visit to the Moving Image Archive in Scotland last week. 

The Moving Image Archive is Scotland’s national collection of moving image and is held at the National Library, part of Kelvin Hall in Glasgow. The archive, which is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary, is open to the public 5 days a week and is a free drop-in facility with no membership card required to access its archive material.

The material available spans Scottish life over the decades in both professional and amateur films, dating from as early as the turn of the 20th century to the late 1980’s, and the database is being added to all the time. You can watch over 1,900 clips and full-length films from the collection on the Moving Image Archive catalogue, and even more onsite at Kelvin Hall (some films aren’t available to view online due to data protection and copyright issues). You can view the full catalogue via various computers onsite, or watch highlights from the catalogue at a series of viewing stations.


The onsite catalogue is identical to the online catalogue, the only difference being the amount of archive films available to view: You can search the catalogue using a variety of methods, including searching for a year or type of film, or using keywords, the easiest of which initially could be place names. However, Learning and Outreach Officer Emily Munro also had interesting ideas of how to access the material housed in the archive creatively, including looking at themes that could pertain to a certain area through the Subject, Genre or Series search functions.


For a group wanting to screen a film publicly, they would have to contact the Moving Image Archive in the first instance to see if they have a DVD copy of the film(s) available and who owns the copyright. If a DVD copy is unavailable, there will be a charge for having a DVD made, as well as a hire fee of £10 (& VAT) plus postage. The next step in exhibiting a chosen film would be to obtain the rights to screen it. If a third party owns the copyright, groups would have to contact this third party for permission to screen the film, which may be a broadcaster, corporation or individual. Often, third parties will not charge for exhibition rights, as long as the exhibitor is not charging an entrance fee or benefiting financially from the screening. There is also an additional charge payable to the Moving Image Archive for each public screening of one of the films in their catalogue. Here is a list of current MIA screening rates for exhibiting material from the archive to the public: For participating Grow Your Own Cinema groups and other community cinema exhibitors, the rates would be as follows per screening: £8.33 for a film up to 15mins long, £12.50 for a film up to 30mins long, £16.66 for a film up to 60mins long and £20.83 for a film 60mins long or more (excluding VAT). As a result, you would probably be looking at around £25 per archive film screening.

It’s certainly worth having a dig around in the archive for ideas for archive films your audiences might like to see. Personally, I think this film is my new current favourite from the archive: It depicts a hen party in the late 80s in Glasgow and reflects a place and time at once very familiar whilst at the same time very much from another era, conjuring up a sense of happiness and sadness at its loss at the same time.

Find out more about the archive here: