Inspired by... blog

22 August 2012

How the British Library can help film-makers

If you are involved in making and researching films, we can help you in lots of ways:

Be inspired by our collections
If you need to check your facts or find new strands to a story, we have lots of amazing collection items which you can come and see.  We have oral history recordings, newspapers, magazines, diaries and letters, photographs, maps, science and social science collections, moving image and all the latest journals and news.

We have one of the largest sound collections in the world, holding over 3.5 million recordings which cover the entire range of recorded sound from music, drama and literature, to oral history, accents and dialects and wildlife sounds.

We also have a collection of around 60,000 moving images. As well as news programmes, it includes ethnomusicological films and videos, video recordings of experimental theatre, oral history recordings on video, and television programmes (mostly music-related) from the 1980s and 1990s.

Anyone is welcome to use our collections, you just need to gain a free Reader Pass and come and use our Reading Rooms in London. To get a pass, you need to bring the correct ID to the Library and have an idea of what types of material you would like to see.

Image: networking event in our Business & IP Centre

Networking and business support
We run regular events with partners such as Sheffield Doc/Fest to help you meet other film makers. You can also come and use our Business & IP Centre for advice on either working for yourself or setting up a small company, for example, finance, tax, business planning, marketing, branding and intellectual property. The Centre is based on the first floor of the Library.

Screening and promotional activities
We are always interested in working with talented film makers who have used the Library, and we’re happy to show off their work either at screenings at the Library or via our website and social media channels.

Future Shorts Festival
Image: Future Shorts Festival screening

Film screenings at the Library
We hold regular screenings at the Library aimed at the public. Recently we showed the summer season of Future Shorts Festival films, and we are running a screening with Tilda Swinton and a preview of On the Road this autumn.

Filming at the Library
For a fee, you can apply to film at our building. This is something we have done a lot with other organisations, including the BBC.

Working in partnership
We’re really keen to work with partners on collaborative projects. We currently work with the BBC, BFI, Future Shorts, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Focal and Ideastap - to name just a few.

Have you used the British Library to research for your films?  If so, get in touch with me at


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