When we started thinking about how to make the series, we hit an immediate roadblock: what do you use for b-roll when you’re talking about economics? (B-roll is the coverage footage that goes over the primary footage – in this case, RC. After all, economics can be so very abstract.
Furthermore, as we were writing the scripts, we knew we wouldn’t have an exact idea of what needed covering until after everything was shot. There could be all sorts of things that we could never prepare for. And, finally, we had a minuscule budget. So, what to do?
A few years before starting the project, I stumbled across The Internet Archive doing research. The Internet Archive is like a huge flea market that stretches out endlessly in all directions. You never know what you’re going to find when you’re looking, and although it takes a lot of time to sort through the junk, there are plenty of gems to be found for those willing to look. What’s in the Archive?
Pretty much everything vintage. I spent my time in the video section, although there are music and book sections, as well. As far as video goes, my favorite is The Prelinger Archives (from the found footage collection of Rick Prelinger who also maintains the Archive). It is filled with old short films from the 20′s to the 60′s, including instructional films, military films, commercials, oddities and all sorts of unusual and interesting things.
Then there’s FedFlix which is a collection of government films going back to WWI and up to the Vietnam War, including old CIA films on a bizarre number of subjects. Or Silent Films. Or public domain movies from the 20′s to the 70′s. Or home movies. And the list goes on and on.
Now, one word of warning – there is a ton of junk in there, including lots of contemporary films and videos that fill the Community Video section where people can upload what they want. But this goes with the metaphor: a giant flea market where there’s lots of junk obscuring the really interesting things.
I spent untold hours combing through this archive to find just the right film clip that would dimensionalize what RC was saying. Although to many people, this would be a horrible torture that would cause them to run screaming from their computer after a few hours, I personally love flea markets, and the bigger, the better. So the Internet Archive was a great fit. If you enjoy the film clips in our series, the majority of them were uncovered in the Archive.
And if you like flea markets, you just might like the Internet Archive as well.