Leading lights of the archive industry came together in London last week for the eighth Focal International Awards, celebrating the best work from 20 countries.

Focal International received 233 submissions from 20 countries for the eighth year of its awards, which promote and reward the best use of library archive and stock footage.

Three jurors, each specialising in a particular genre, whittled submissions down to three per category, with final nominations put to the vote among Focal members.

“Finding a piece of archive is hard enough but, once you track it down, you then have the minefield of clearing rights, not just to use the overall footage, but obtaining licences from third parties including audio or image rights associated within it,” explains juror Kate Griffiths.

One criteria that counts against shortlisting is the radio test, explains juror Jerry Kuehl. “If you turn the TV set to the wall, so all you can hear is the soundtrack, and the programme still makes perfect sense, what you have is a radio programme, not a TV programme. In addition, the programme should have a coherent structure and not just be one clip after another. Finally, the novelty of the archive material is something that should be rewarded.”

Griffiths says budgets are also considered. “Researchers making ingenious use of the archive they can afford on a small production budget are noted. Working within limited budgets is often the hardest part of the job.”

This feature will appear in full shortly, including a full list of winners…