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Susan Margolin holding up her passes. <br>Photo Courtesy of Charlie T. Photography
Susan Margolin holding up her passes.
Photo Courtesy of Charlie T. Photography

NYWIFT Archive Project Q&A

Our next Archive Interview Day is on November 1st! If you're interested and want to interview, production manage, media manage, shoot, or production assist, please contact Norma Davidoff at NDavid7336@gmail.com. Interested volunteers are welcome to attend the Archive Committee Meeting on Monday, Sept. 15 at 6pm in NYWIFT Conference Room.

Documenting women's contributions to film, television and digital media, the Archive Project interviews women who have been professionally active in New York since 1977. All categories of professionals are represented—grips to DPs, executives to script supervisors, makeup artists to writers. 

Check out this video with advice for women in the business gleaned from many of the Archive Project Videos and edited by Member and Editor, Kristin Rodriguez.

Marcie Setlow, former chair of the committee, shares more about the Archive Project in the interview below. 

Filmmakers M.M. Serra and Su Friedrich. <br>Photo Courtesy of Charlie T. Photography
Filmmakers M.M. Serra and Su Friedrich.
Photo Courtesy of Charlie T. Photography
How do you choose whom to interview? What are the criteria?

The NYWIFT Archive project wants to interview any woman who has had a career in film, television and digital media in New York City any time since 1977 when NYWIFT was founded.  Our original plan was to interview women at all stages of their careers, to give us a sense of the environment in which women have worked at all points along the timeline since 1977 to now.  However, given limited resources, we have ended up interviewing women with established careers.  We have paid special attention to interviewing women of advanced age, to make sure we document their work while they are still in condition to be interviewed.

How and why did you get involved with The Archive Project?

The Archive Project was created to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of NYWIFT, which took place in 2002 while I was NYWIFT President.  I felt strongly that this was a way to celebrate not only the accomplishments of NYWIFT during those 25 years, but also the achievements of the women in our business that NYWIFT had been founded to support. 

I encouraged the formation of the project while I was President and stayed with it as Chair until this year. About six years ago, Norma Davidoff joined me as Co-chair.  I feel proud to have been able to shepherd this project through its infancy and to have seen it grow into a dynamic and well-established part of the NYWIFT agenda.  Now I am acting as Advisor to the project, and Norma has taken over as Chair.

Filmmaker, Christine Choy.<br>Photo Courtesy of Charlie T. Photography
Filmmaker, Christine Choy.
Photo Courtesy of Charlie T. Photography
 What happens to the footage after it is filmed?  Can it be viewed online or in person?  Is it archived somewhere?

Once an interview is shot, it is backed up and dvd copies are made.  Established archive protocol does not allow for the editing of the original footage, although from time to time we prepared a partially edited version to put up on the NYWIFT web site.

The Archive Project, early on, established a set of procedures for shooting interviews.  Interviewers are to be off camera, and each interviewee is to be asked a standard set of questions that are set forth in the Project’s Producer’s Guide.  The purpose of this set of questions is to insure that all the interviews will be parallel and will cover the same terrain.  When the interviews are ultimately catalogued, questions and answers will be searchable using key words and the experience of the different women will be able to be compared and contrasted.

It has always been our plan to make an arrangement with an established library to house our collection and to make the interviews available both online and in person.  At the moment, we are in serious conversations with the Brooklyn College Library, which has offered to house, catalogue, digitize and make available all our interviews. The interviews will be available to the public at large.  It will not be necessary to be affiliated with Brooklyn College or with any branch of the CUNY system to access our materials.  The Brooklyn College Library is also interested in housing all collateral materials connected to our collection, including the bios and archival materials provided by our interviewees.

Why is The Archive Project important to film/tv history?  To women’s history?

This is the first and only systematic effort to document the careers and experiences of women in the film, television and digital media interviews in New York City.  This is also the only effort that is being accomplished by volunteers only.  To date, we have shot about 125 interviews.  The NYWIFT Archive Project has become an example to other Women in Film chapters around the world, and other chapters have either started or would like to start similar efforts.
The project documents, as nowhere else, the contributions of women to our industry.  We provide women the opportunity to tell their stories in their own words.  Scholars in the near and distant future will find in these interviews a treasure trove of information on a range of interesting topics, including:

-The development of the film, television and digital media industries in New York;

-The roles women played in that development, as told from their own vantage points;

-The struggles experienced by women as they fought for recognition and creative opportunities at all

levels of the industry; 

-The different ways in which women sought to find a balance between career and family responsibilities;

-The ways in which the women’s movement expressed itself within the industry, especially the way in which women dedicated themselves to mentoring future generations; and

-The astonishing professional product that resulted from the participation of women.

Our collection of interviews are not just intended as historical documents.  They are intended as well to light the path for future generations of women in our industry. Once they are available to the public at large, we expect students and young professionals to use them to help find their own way and chart their own careers.  The stories of successful women – how they got started, what training and preparation was required for their advancement, who mentored them, how they built their careers -- will inform and guide them.  And NYWIFT will be proud to have made these resources available to them. 

Join the conversation on Twitter: #nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts