From societies to financial advice, dissertation writing to graduation certificates, the A-Z of useful links on the Student Services intranet pages should have everything you need to know.
The following information may also be useful to your studies in the Department of Film-Studies:
Where do I begin?
Any substantive research project in film will mean trips to some key libraries in the London area, primarily the Maughan Library at Chancery Lane, the University of London Library at Senate House, and the British Film Institute Library.
While the Maughan Library should be your first stop as a matter of course, most research projects will require an additional trip to the University of London Library at Senate House in Bloomsbury. All King's students have library privileges at Senate House. The membership desk is located on the fourth floor. On your first trip, present your King's library card as well as proof of home address and you will be accredited for the University of London Library as well.
The Film Studies Department has institutional membership to the British Film Institute Library. The Library is extremely well resourced but also small and easily overcrowded. If you want to use the Library, you should have first exhausted other avenues of enquiry and must then consult with your course tutor.
The following abbreviations will cue the location of the resources that follow:
|| Maughan Library, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1LR
|| University of London Library, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
|| British Film Institute National Library, 21 Stephen Street, London W1T 1LN
As the catalogues for all three are available online, you can do much of your planning regarding where the items you want to look for are located in advance of an onsite visit, which will save you considerable time and energy.
We live in an internet age, and it would be foolish not to make the most of the resources the internet makes available to us. But while some internet resources may be a useful starting point for research, they must never be considered an endpoint in themselves. Internet sources are rarely peer-reviewed and hence are neither reliable nor academic, apart from feature articles in a very few online journals such as Film International, Jump Cut, Kinoeye, Offscreen, Scope, Senses of Cinema, and Synoptique.
To research any film in any depth, one must spend some time in libraries ferreting out book, journal, and microfilm resources. That said, you might point your browser to some of the following for some preliminary guidance:
One of the first things you might want to do is determine the release date(s) of the film on which you are working. One of the more interesting ways to find this information is on the website The Internet Movie Database. The IMDb contains information on hundreds of thousands of films and will usually provide you with production credits, Academy Award nominations, popular critical reviews, production or film stills, release dates, filming locations, trivia, etc. Each entry will have highlighted terms you can click on to take you to more information about, say, a particular star’s biography or a director’s filmography. But be forewarned: while the IMDb is a great resource and fun to use, it cannot be trusted as authoritative. As anyone can become a registered user, anyone can add information to, say, cast and crew lists (e.g., one’s Aunt Ludmilla as gaffer on Cutthroat Island). The IMDb is thus merely one potential first step.
More reliably, the Maughan Library has an online subscription to Film Indexes Online, which comprises both Film Index International and the American Film Institute (AFI) Catalog. Film Index International is a filmography that provides international coverage of approximately 118,000 films and 685,000 film personalities from over 170 countries. (Film Index International provides some useful preliminary secondary references on individual films as well, though these are usually not bibliographically complete.) The AFI Catalog is the premier resource for American films, providing detailed information on American feature films produced in the last century. To access Film Indexes Online, go to http://film.chadwyck.com/home and login via the ‘Athens users’ hit. On the webpage that pops up, enter in the appropriate fields your King’s username prefixed by the letters ‘kcl’ and then your King’s password, clicking finally on ‘Login’.
You might also get other basic production information from one or more of the following reference works:
Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film, 4 volumes, ed. Barry Keith Grant (Detroit: Schirmer Reference, 2007) [ML]
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 3rd edition, 5 volumes, ed. Nicholas Thomas (Detroit: St. James Press, 1997) [ML, ULL, BFI]
Halliwell’s Film Guide, various editions, by Leslie Halliwell (New York: Harper & Row) [ML, ULL, BFI]
The Film Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, by Ephraim Katz (New York: HarperCollins, 1994) [ML, ULL, BFI]
The International Film Index 1895-1990, 2 volumes, ed. Alan Goble (London: Bowker-Saur, 1990) [ULL, BFI]
The International Film Index 1895-1990 on CD-ROM [BFI]
The World Encyclopedia of Film, ed. John M. Smith and Tim Cawkwell (New York: Galahad Books, 1972) [BFI]
If you are researching an American feature film, you should look it up online using the AFI Catalog (see above) or, if you find yourself in the Reading Room at the BFI, in one of the following:
The American Film Institute Catalogue of Motion Pictures Produced In the United States: Film Beginnings, 1893-1910
The American Film Institute Catalogue of Motion Pictures Produced In the United States: Feature Films, 1911-1920
The American Film Institute Catalogue of Motion Pictures Produced In the United States: Feature Films, 1921-1930
The American Film Institute Catalogue of Motion Pictures Produced In the United States: Feature Films, 1931-1940
The American Film Institute Catalogue of Motion Pictures Produced In the United States: Feature Films, 1941-1950
The American Film Institute Catalogue of Motion Pictures Produced In the United States: Feature Films, 1961-1970, various editors, publishers, and dates.
various editors, publishers, and dates.
The American Film Institute Catalogue on CD-ROM.
As you browse the film reference areas of the Senate House library and/or the BFI, you will probably discover more useful sources. Remember, these are general reference works and should not be cited as bibliographical sources in your paper.
Once you have found the basic production and release information that you may need to locate other materials, you can start searching for more specific types of documents. What follows is a list of helpful sources for finding particular types of materials.
But first, a brief note: try not to feel overwhelmed or discouraged by the number of sources listed below. If you proceed systematically through your research you will find that the process is nowhere near as confusing as you might first think. You may, in fact, find the process engaging in itself: in tracking down articles, books, and reviews you will be something like a detective.
A good place to start is to try and locate any books on your film, its director(s), or, perhaps one of its stars. Use the online databases of the Maughan Library, Senate House, and/or the BFI to do a subject search on your film and its personnel, and see whether these libraries have any monograph holdings that might be useful to you. Also check for books on historical periods, national cinemas, genres, or film styles that might discuss your film. For instance, if you are working on Breathless (A bout de souffle), you might want to check for books on Jean-Luc Godard or books on French filmmaking, especially those on the French New Wave, as well as books on the gangster film or French film noir.
To find scholarly historical and critical articles on your film, you should look through the bound copies, published yearly, of the International Index to Film Periodicals (1972 to current) [ML, ULL, BFI]. You will have to look for articles under your film's title in every year's volume after the film's release in order to make your search of these indexes complete. If you are researching an avant-garde, experimental, or other type of film that may be connected to a visual arts tradition, search the Art Index (1984 to current) in the Courtauld Library for any entries on your film's title.
Other important sources to consult are The Film Index: a Bibliography,The New Film Index: A Bibliography of Magazine Articles in English 1930-1971 (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1975) [ML, ULL, BFI]; The Critical Index: A Bibliography of Articles on Film in English, 1946-1973
Anthony Slide compiled and released a number of volumes with bibliographies of selected film criticism up to 1950. Consult the following, all at ULL and BFI:
Selected Film Criticism, 1896-1911. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1982.
Selected Film Criticism, 1912-1920. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1982.
Selected Film Criticism, 1921-1930. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1982.
Selected Film Criticism, 1931-1940. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1982.
Selected Film Criticism, 1941-1950. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1982.
More recent articles, scholarly and journalistic, can be quite thoroughly researched using some of the indexes available as online databases on the KCL Information Services and Systems homepage. From here, the 3 volumes (New York: MOMA, 1941) [ML, BFI] for films made prior to 1940, and either of the following for films made between 1930 and 1973: (New York and London: Teacher's College Press, 1975) [ULL, BFI].OCLC FirstSearch data service allows access to two important indexes: ArticleFirst (1990 to current, 6 film journals) and the MLA (Modern Language Association Bibliography, 1963 to current, 36 film journals, magazines, and monograph series). The Web of Science (a misnomer) allows access to the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, 1975 to current, which searches 25 film journals and magazines. OCLC FirstSearch and the Web of Science are both Athens authenticated, so you will need your username/password to enter their gateways.
More obscure books and monograph material may be found also using OCLC FirstSearch on the WorldCat database, which accesses libraries worldwide. Much of what you find on WorldCat will not be held in the Maughan Library or Senate House collections, though the BFI will have some and you can always use Interlibrary Loan to acquire other titles you think are important.
One advantage to searching for secondary sources first is that you can use their endnotes and bibliographies to generate more secondary and primary sources. These will give you a sense of what kinds of primary sources have been used in the past, if any, and what kinds of concerns critics and historians have brought to the film on which you are working. Having a general understanding about the ways in which your film has been previously researched and discussed will be both useful in looking for new historical evidence that hasn't been considered and for shaping your own hypothesis in relation to previous scholarly work.
There are several places to find production and reception materials. For production information, you might first want to look for your film in one of the film annuals put out by the industry. The BFI has the Film Daily Yearbook (1918-1969) and the International Motion Picture Almanac (1933 to current). The BFI also has Screen World (1949 to current) and The International Film Guide (1964 to current), both of which are published outside the industry for use by teachers and students. These works will often just consist of lists of studio personnel, production statistics, and inter-industry advertisements, but they can be very useful. For instance, say your film is listed as one of the ten best films of 1949 based on a poll of Cinematographers belonging to ASC (American Society of Cinematographers). This tells you something about the way a particular audience within the industry saw the film, and, therefore, it may be useful to think about what other films are on that lists and the ways other audiences may have thought about that film at the time. In short, any kind of mention of your film anywhere may be potentially useful to you.
Another good source for production information is the weekly journal Variety on microfilm at the BFI. Variety isn’t indexed so you will have to browse this daily during the dates of the film’s production and following its release. Variety will give you box-office information, stories on changes of personnel, contract disputes, production budgets, first-run release information, etc. You should also look in the bound volumes of The New York Times Encyclopedia of Film (1896-1971) [ULL, BFI]. This work contains New York Times non-review articles on films and film personalities. When citing material from this general reference work, always cite the original NYT article and not the encyclopedia.
For reception material, the best place to start is The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature at Senate House, located in the Information Centre, MxS. For film reviews you should look up your film by title under the general heading of ‘Moving Picture Plays’ for entries prior to February 1977, and ‘Motion Picture Reviews’ for entries after February 1977. These entries for popular reviews will be useless as bibliographical citations as you find them in the Reader's Guide since they will not provide you with an author or title for the review. You will have to find the review to get this information. Since you will have the review in hand, you might as well make careful notes on it or make a photocopy so you won’t have to duplicate your work later if these reviews become important for your final project.
Two other useful reception reference sources for reviews are: Index to Critical Film Reviews, 2 volumes, ed. Stephen E. Bowles (New York: Burt Franklin & Co., 1974) [ULL, BFI]; and Film Review Index, 2 volumes, ed. Patricia King Hanson and Stephen L. Hanson (Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1986) [BFI].
You can also search for newspaper reviews. The most important and influential reviews are published in The New York Times and Variety — but keep in mind that these journals are read by different audiences, and therefore the reviewers consider films according to different sets of criteria. For convenience, the reviews published in both the NYT and Variety may be found at the following: The New York Times Film Reviews [BFI]; Variety Film Reviews (1907-96) [ULL, BFI]. Again: when citing material from these general reference works, always cite the original NYT or Variety article and not the encyclopedia.
The Maughan Library has an online subscription to LexisNexis News & Business, which provides access to full text articles from both UK and international news sources. This includes foreign language newspapers in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese; Asia Pacific, Australia and US news are also featured. LexisNexis News & Business is available as an online database via the KCL Information Services and Systems homepage. It is Athens authenticated, so you will need your username/password to enter its gateway.
For UK newspapers, the ProQuest UK Newspapers database (available on campus only) at the Maughan Library provides recent full text of a number of key UK broadsheets, including: The Times and Sunday Times (1992 to current); The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph (1995 to current); The Guardian (1995 to current); The Observer (1995 to current); The Independent and Independent on Sunday (1995 to current); The Financial Times (1996 to current). Titles can be cross-searched or searched independently of each other. For Times reviews before 1992, you will have to consult one of the following indexes, both available in the Periodicals Room Gallery at Senate House: the Official Index to the Times (1914-1957); and the Index to The Times (1957-1972).
For more advanced research, you can look at the film’s coverage in trade and/or fan magazines. The BFI is really the only library holding these types of materials. If you are researching a film made before WW II, go to http://www.bfi.org.uk/archive-collections. Trade journals and fan magazines are not indexed, so you will have to search around the dates of your film’s production and release.
Finally, if you are doing work on a specific historical audience and you want to look through a specific magazine or publication that might be associated with that audience, you should first see if that publication is indexed anywhere. Say you wanted to see if your film was discussed in Good Housekeeping or in Andy Warhol’s Interview (now called simply Interview). These magazines are not indexed in the Reader’s Guide, but you can find out if they are indexed by consulting Ulrich’s International Periodical Directory [Franklin-Wilkins, ULL, BFI]. Ulrich’s will tell you whether a particular magazine is indexed and, if so, where. The reference librarian can then tell you if the library has that particular index.