DocA’s Elizabeth Klinck Archivist Workshop

DocA’s Elizabeth Klinck Archivist Workshop

DocA’s Elizabeth Klinck Archivist Workshop

By Carolyn Carew, Free Women Films Producer

It was a great privilege to attend the three-day online workshop in November 2021 run by Documentary Africa (DocA) in association with Elizabeth Klinck, a world renowned archives specialist, hosting an online workshop on Research and Rights Clearance for Documentary film producers dealing with Film, Photos & Music. Elizabeth has wealth of knowledge and experience which is shared with all the participants as well as a database of contracts, sources, archive libraries both free and licensed. The one-on-one meetings were also so useful – I am producing a musical documentary on the life of the late Dr Joseph Shabalala from Black Mambazo and she provided me with valuable contacts to source material in the USA.Elizabeth outlined the process of sourcing archives and how she works. From her contact list she keeps from day one in a google drive, notes that assist her to remember who she spoke to and what information they provided, the names and spelling of contacts, as well as a key word list to use when you have assistance in searching archives.  A tip she mentioned that stood out was to hire writers from books that have valuable information for your archives and bring them on board as a consultant.  Also look for podcasts and radio documentaries transcribe these to find information you need. These tools can all provide threads to other sources that you need to talk to.

When approaching such sources, be sure to prepare your:LETTER OF INTRODUCTION – send an email to the person, if you can get credibility via another organization, that gives you excellent introduction, with a foreign person might be worth getting others from that country to provide you with a letter of support. When you send your request, be sure to cover questions around terms, territories, media platforms, how many uses of the images in the film, technical specifications, that the film will have a festival run of two years and broadcast or cinema theatrica release. Be sure to ask all these details at the beginning of your conversation and then work backwards time- and cost-wise to what will be feasible. Before the camera starts to roll, you should have clearances and the right to film in place, so take option agreements on books for at least two years.


An element that filmmakers often neglect at the start of a project is the Errors and Commissions insurance as they usually only take this at the end of the project. It is an insurance to cover producers in the case of any claims or being sued and will be needed by the distributor. In order to control the possibility of there being an omission, your release forms are absolutely key:

  • Sign release forms not only for the person but also for the locations.
  • Personal life or life rights, need to be cleared by the family upfront.
  • Personal Archives – get the family to sign personal archives form to give you the rights to use the footage or images.
  • City – when filming in a city best to try and get all rights from the film and tv local commission.
Some tips for when you are on location:
  • When confirming the time to interview best to over-estimate your time – don’t short cut it.
  • Questions  – ask the difficult questions last once you had taken them through the easier questions so at least you got some material you can use.
  • Ask the soundman to get the person to verbally sign the release form, they have time after taking off the mic.

Payment – What you pay for 30/ 60 seconds can actually mean that you get a possible discount on bulk – standard fees are around $5000 for worldwide rights for 60 secs, so it’s best to get 60 seconds of footage from the archive as opposed to only taking part of the 60 secs.

Where to find collections
The list of public archives can be found at

If you need any assistance, please make contact with Elizabeth: