The costs involved in screening an archive film can vary depending on the type of screening, the format of the film, and rights context. You may be charged a set fee (from £25 for DVD to around £150 for print or DCP), a box office percentage or minimum guarantee, or a few hundred pounds for a bespoke programme curated especially for you by archive staff.
In some cases, clearing the rights to screen the film will be straightforward if the archive or distributor has already ensured they are available for screening. However, be aware that archives do not usually own the rights to the films in their collection, so the licence to screen a film must often be cleared elsewhere. Identifying, locating and securing clearance with rights holders can sometimes prove tricky if rights may have been passed between film companies acquiring each other’s catalogues or between descendants of the filmmaker. In some cases, the rights holder cannot be identified at all. The film may also feature music or images under copyright requiring separate clearance. Talk to the archive in the first instance about rights and what is available to screen, and accept that unfortunately you may not always be able to show your first choice of film.
Some archive films will be available for screening on DVD, DCP or 35mm. A large proportion of archives’ collections, however, are not yet in a screenable condition or format, so the films you want unfortunately won’t always be available for public viewing. If there is a screening copy available, check what format it’s on, as most archive films have not yet been digitised and some will require special equipment such as 16mm or a twin projector. If it’s a fragile celluloid print, the archive may also have specifications about how your projectionist or technician handles the film to ensure it remains in its current condition.