While item level cataloging of the HFA’s film collection in HOLLIS Classic is already underway (with over 1500 titles already available — limit your search to location:  Harvard Film Archive), another way to access information about the archive’s collections is via Harvard’s Online Archival Search Information System, OASIS.

Here, researchers can find collection level finding aids of HFA holdings.  This type of description is most useful for HFA collections that include outtakes, ephemera, or any type of material that is not easily described with a single title.  For example, the HFA’s first finding aid is the “Dick Fontaine Paper and Outtakes Collection,” which contains not only the feature films of the English documentary filmmaker Dick Fontaine, but also the outtakes, research material, video copies, and documentation that went into the production of each film.

Finding aids for a number of other HFA collections are in the works and will appear on OASIS in the coming year.

The finding aid for the Dick Fontaine collection can be found here:
http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/deepLink?_collection=oasis&uniqueId=hfa00004

And here’s more information about the Harvard Film Archive’s “Dick Fontaine Paper and Outtakes Collection”:

The Dick Fontaine collection at the Harvard Film Archive contains materials produced by English documentary filmmaker Dick Fontaine between the mid-1960s to the 1990s.  Currently professor of documentary production at the National Film and Television School in the UK, Fontaine is credited with introducing the techniques of Direct Cinema to British television and has produced, directed, and written more than forty films specializing in documentary, music, and original drama subjects. Included in the HFA’s collection are film prints and research copies of projects Fontaine produced with the Beatles, John Cage, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, and Johnny Rotten, as well as video, film, and audio elements resulting from the production of many of Fontaine’s documentaries.

A highlight among the materials in this collection are elements related to the research and production of the film I Heard it Through the Grapevine (1982), directed by Fontaine and Pat Hartley and produced by their independent production company, Grapevine Pictures.  The documentary follows writer James Baldwin as he revisits the settings of civil rights struggles of the 1960s in the Deep South and reexamines the movement’s ideals twenty years later. Film elements for Grapevine consist of release prints and pre-production materials, including a complete set of picture and magnetic sound outtakes. The paper material includes notes, newspaper clippings, reports, and correspondence on the topics of civil rights, community organizing in the south, and the life of writer James Baldwin that were collected by Fontaine while preparing and researching the topic of the film.  Scripts, interview transcripts, shot lists, correspondence, contracts, clearances relating to the production, as well as materials regarding the screening and reception of the film are included in the paper materials as well.

The paper and film portions of the collection arrived at the HFA in 2006. Materials in this collection will be particularly useful for researchers not only interested in Fontaine’s career but also the history of documentary film, UK television, music and film, the civil rights movement in the United States, and writer James Baldwin.