by Elena Dirstaru
I am currently one month into a 4 months part time placement at BUFVC in London. I am working on a research project to do with newsreel cameramen who worked during the war and digitising tapes from a documentary about newsreel cameramen shot in 1981 called ‘They Made News’. It is a fantastic opportunity for a film student/filmmaker like me who has only ever worked with digital cameras and footage, as I get to work with film reels – a process that is incredibly scary at first! It was the first time I got to work with actual film, so it was slightly intimidating to have my inexperienced hands on what it was potentially the only copy of these interviews, but I’m happy to report that I haven’t broken anything yet. The content of these tapes is fascinating, as I have access to these unique interviews that put the focus on cameramen and their experiences, something that is very rarely the focus, even these days. As a documentary filmmaker and someone who shoots her own films, it is an invaluable opportunity to listen to these people talk about their careers and about their techniques, and technologies they used, something that is very useful for my current PhD research in documentary interviews.
I am also taking full advantage of the free travel to London that CHASE provided for this internship, and going to the BFI library for my PhD research, or to conferences, seminars, and films I would have spent a fortune on otherwise – I’ve actually been going to the ICA quite a lot for the last month to make the most of my free membership that I got through CHASE. It’s very helpful for my research to be able to go and see current documentaries, as well as have access to literature on documentary and documentary filmmaking. It really is fantastic to have this opportunity, and I’m trying to make the most of it.