I have always loved obscure movies. When I was growing up and developing my love of cinema, I was particularly intrigued by the titles that I could not find at the video store, or that were listed in Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide or Halliwell’s as not having been released on video. Specialty video stores with wide selections of rare, out-of-print, and foreign-release items thus became paragons of access for me as I entered college.
Then the video store industry began to decline, and the specialty store near my dormitory gave away its vast and eclectic rental inventory. I took notice of the alternate routes to access that cinephiles around me were taking in the wake of this loss; these included repertory theatrical screenings and online file-sharing of bootleg copies of rare movies. It was around this time that I became aware of moving-image archives, which I came to imagine as the new ideal place to find all the filmic treasures I could not otherwise locate.
Enrolling in the MIAS program at UCLA seemed to offer a chance to draw near to that ideal. From the very first class in archival history, philosophy, and practice, however, it was clear that access involves a much more complex process than simply opening the archive doors. Learning about the many factors affecting access, including intellectual property laws, financial concerns, ethics, and the relationship between the archive and preservation, greatly complicated matters for me but also renewed my motivation to make sense of and effect positive change in the field I am to enter.
This portfolio is meant to provide a window into my work to attain greater understanding of the issues surrounding moving-image access. The written work displayed here exhibits use of archival sources for research into film history; inquiry into whether apparently transgressive technology such as BitTorrent can have legitimate uses for access facilitation; analysis of the political and economic implications of restricted access and open access to information; and an in-depth look at how the physical-media era of home video affected viewers’ access to cinematic material, and the nature of the changes to that access made by the shift away from physical media — situating my earlier anxieties about the demise of the video store in a historical context.
Additionally, this portfolio includes demonstrations of my programming work — reflecting screenings on the UCLA campus of film and television material that is otherwise difficult to obtain — and my hands-on work helping the Vidiots Foundation to repurpose a video store for a new, preservation- and protection-oriented purpose. As I move forward into a life in the moving-image archiving field, I hope that the material presented here substantially reflects my progress as a student and archivist in grasping a more complete view of what access truly means.