Media Licensing Delivers Archival Materials to the Masses

black and white photo of Three people From the Academy Award-winning Selma to Ken Burns’ vast documentary filmography, many cinephiles and history buffs have engaged with the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s content without even realizing it.

An integral behind-the-scenes unit— the Film & Television Archive’s Media Licensing department — is responsible for working with clients to integrate archive-held footage into cinematic works, television shows and exhibition spaces. Among the department’s significant 2021 licensing projects are a pair of Burns’ PBS docuseries (Muhammed Ali and Hemingway), and a timely National Geographic documentary on the life and career of Dr. Anthony Fauci. These productions included historical footage from the archive’s vast collection, one of the largest libraries of historical footage documenting the people, places, events and lifestyles of the 20th century nationally and worldwide.

In addition to exposing collections materials to broader audiences, Media Licensing projects generate revenue that supports the archive’s moving image preservation efforts, and in turn, donor- funded digital preservation projects increase the pool of available footage for not only licensing purposes, but for online research. Similarly, the UCLA Library’s Scholarly Communication and Licensing unit fields requests for unique materials for which it owns the copyrights and can be used in a commercial context.

For the archive’s Media Licensing Manager Kara Molitor, research is the most rewarding part of her work.

“I’m always excited to find ‘new’ material for our clients when researching in our catalog. Some of the items have not been seen since they were originally shown in theaters or on television, and the clients are very pleased to have this unique footage for their productions,” she said.

Several years ago, Media Licensing was contacted by a filmmaker telling the story of the Kindertransport of 1938, Jewish child refugees sent to England to escape Nazi persecution. After receiving the requested footage to intercut with a woman recounting her refugee experience, the documentarian discovered that the woman herself appeared several times, arriving in England with other children.

“It was a very emotional moment, as the woman saw herself after 70+ years,” said Danielle Faye, Molitor’s former colleague who retired from the Film & Television Archive last year.

To support media licensing and digital preservation initiatives at both the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the UCLA Library, contact UCLA Library Development at 310.206.8526 or giving@library.ucla.edu.