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Workshop: Navigating Archival Sources


pink and purple gradient flier for navigating archival resources workshop

Archival films are no longer relegated to the dusty stacks of boring educational documentaries. In recent years, documentary films such as Amy, OJ: Made in America, and current awards darling Fire of Love, that utilize archival footage as their primary sources have had great commercial and critical success. Additionally, now we are living in a world with ever increasing amounts of media, including moving and still images, produced by individuals and institutions. With this uptick, filmmakers sometimes feel pressure to include archival materials in their projects, but don’t know how to do so thoughtfully, or even where to begin. This event is open to IDA members only. Not a member? Join us today.

Many directors underestimate the importance of well-researched and organized archival materials, oftentimes leaving a mess to be sorted out frantically at the final stages of the film. Knowing the ins and outs of archival material can not only vastly improve your project’s impact and your team’s efficiency, but also save time and money in the end. Habits such as reusing archival sequences from other films during the edit might seem like a shortcut but also limit the creative potential of your project. While the process of researching and licensing can seem daunting and opaque, understanding your goals and determining your intended audience from the outset will create a path towards what source material you want, what people you reach out to in the research process, and what rights to license and how much you need to budget for it. 

In this 90-minute workshop, Gabriella Ortega Ricketts, IDA’s Manager of Artist Programs and working archival producer (The Andy Warhol Diaries [2022], Aum: The Cult at the End of the World [2023]), will walk filmmakers through the process of handling archival materials from research to organization and licensing. But most importantly, we will explore how incorporating archival methods throughout the film’s entire lifecycle will bolster the strength of your story.

Filmmakers who wish to know more about the archival process (or don’t have access to an archival producer) and burgeoning archival producers alike are encouraged to attend. The last 30 minutes of the event will be spent answering questions from filmmakers, who will have the opportunity to submit archival-related questions about specific quandaries they’ve encountered. 

Registration for this workshop is free, but is limited to the first 100 IDA members who register here. If you are unable to attend, please email so we can give your spot to someone else.

ASL interpretation and/or live captioning can be requested for the session. Please email your request to by February 9, 2023.

The workshop will cover:

  • Basic breakdown of what materials are considered archival
  • Tips on how to approach an archival-based project and what to consider at the beginning of a project
  • Where to look for archival materials and an overview of different types of archival sources
  • Organizing and tracking of archival materials at all stages of a project, including working with EDLs and cue sheets
  • What rights to ask for, negotiating rates, and common difficulties encountered when licensing archival materials 
  • Potential mistakes to avoid in research and editing, including ethical quandaries!
  • Tips and tricks to make the process easier!

Attendees will receive a Google drive folder of templates, tools and resources assembled by Gabriella Ortega Ricketts to take into the field.

The last 30 minutes of the event will be spent answering specific questions from filmmakers, who will have the opportunity to ask questions in the Q&A. 

For future reference, a recording and a link to the resources shared from the workshop will be posted on the IDA members’ portal the week after the workshop. These materials will be available to all IDA members.

Gabriella Ortega Ricketts is a Colombian-American interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker living in Los Angeles. She works as an archival producer and has been IDA’s Manager of Artist Programs since April 2022. Her archival producing credits include Rebel Heart (Sundance 2021), The Andy Warhol Diaries (Netflix 2022), and Aum: The Cult at the End of the World (Sundance 2023).