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329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808

Archival Footage Policy

Chicago Film Archives’ archival footage library contains film sequences from around the globe. Although the bulk of the footage represents the Midwest, we also have moving image documentation from the remainder of North America and the rest of the world. Much of this twentieth century footage is unique and can be found nowhere else.

Our archival footage library continues to grow as a result of thousands of hours of specialized work. The materials we acquire need to be stabilized, organized and cataloged in order to gain access and knowledge of their content. The original materials are kept in a climate-controlled environment, housed in archival containers and eventually transferred to digital media.

When you use our services, you contribute to the preservation of our collective culture and history. Profits from the archival footage sales support the ongoing task of preserving, cataloging, exhibiting and storing CFA’s numerous moving image collections for people today and into the future. Our customers are CFA’s partners in Midwest moving image preservation.

CFA Archival Footage Policies

Research:  Before any CFA research or set up is started, the filmmaker must fill out a form that includes an abstract of the film/project that is being created, a request for the type of sequences you are looking for, and (if they exist) the Time code samples you would like from CFA’s website. The streaming archival footage clips you see on our website should not be considered exhaustive of our holdings. We are constantly identifying and uploading new footage to our website, but films continually arrive at the archive and not all footage can be displayed immediately. Any further research by CFA staff will be billed at $75/hr resulting in a DVD or digital file screener.

If a producer/researcher is unsure if we have the type of material she/he is seeking, CFA will post up to three streaming sequences at a private portal so that the producer feels comfortable with the material they might get from CFA. CFA also welcomes producers to come on-site to search the database with CFA staff in order to come face-to-face with the staff and material. This will be billed at $100/hr.

Access and Licensing Fees: Although CFA holds the copyrights to approximately 70% of its archival footage materials, the ownership of the rights to some footage is unknown.  Some footage comes from found or orphaned films that have no discernible credits, and some footage may have been produced by companies that no longer exist. In all cases, the fees that CFA charges help to recover the heavy costs of storing, organizing, cataloging and sustaining the original footage for filmmakers. The fees that CFA charges for licensing and access are identical. If CFA is providing only access to the footage, that will be reflected in the agreement between CFA and the client. If CFA does not have the copyright, but has knowledge of a third-party rights owner, we will gladly share that information with our clients.

Clip minimum:

8 seconds per clip (edit) when buying up to two minutes of material

There is no minimum when buying over two minutes of material

Set Up Charge: $75/hr  (This includes research, screener set up, and licensing set up)

Please call 312-243-1808 or email for more information regarding specific licensing rates for your project.