The mission of the DGA Visual History Program is to provide DGA members, entertainment industry professionals, educators, students and researchers the opportunity to explore the art and craft of film and television production through the career recollections and reflections of directors and director's team members, including assistant directors, unit production managers, associate directors and stage managers. By means of in-depth interviews, the collection also offers historical documentation of the evolution of the craft, as well as the history and contributions of the Directors Guild as a social institution for peer interaction, support, and representation of its members' creative concerns.
Director Rouben Mamoulian (1897-1987) directs "Love Me Tonight" (1932). Photo courtesy of DGA Archives
Frank Capra (1897-1991) directing "Meet John Doe" (1940)
The aims of the program are threefold:
- To document and preserve the career contributions of Guild members;
- To preserve the history of the evolution of the art and craft of the moving image, the industry that has evolved with it, and the contributions of the Directors Guild in protecting and enhancing the role of the director;
- To make the DGA Visual History Collection accessible to members and other industry professionals, researchers, educators, students and cinema lovers around the world.
The peer-to-peer interview format (directors talking to directors and director's team members interviewing each other) is a critical component of the program. This collegial approach provides a unique means to explore and illuminate the shared artistic and professional concerns of these complex and demanding vocations.
Accessing the Archive
Visitors to the Visual History Program may browse the Collection for video highlights of the interviews, as well as biographical information and credits for the interview subjects and their interviewers. Users may also view complete interviews and search them by terms and topics.
Access to interviews is also provided by means of DVD reference copies available for viewing on-site at DGA offices in Los Angeles and New York.
Tape Logs, Indices and Topics
Each interview is cataloged and indexed by time code so that users may quickly retrieve and view segments on specific topics of interest within a particular interview or across the entire collection without searching through many hours of material. To maximize the searchibility of the Collection, topics are assigned to each interview segment, with names of people, places, and titles of films and television programming indexed and linked to time code for easy access via the website's search engine. To further aid the user, the program provides a thesaurus of terms and topics for guided searches related to the art and craft of the director and the director's team.
Standards and Practices
The Visual History Program has been established according to the standards and ethics set forth by the Oral History Association (OHA), the professional organization for oral historians that promotes oral history as a method of gathering and preserving history. The Association states, "Oral history should be conducted in the spirit of critical inquiry and social responsibility, with recognition of the interactive and subjective nature of the enterprise." Oral history recording as historical methodology distinguishes it from other interview techniques such as those applied in news gathering or investigative reporting. The oral history enterprise recognizes obligations to the interview subject, profession and public for the creation and preservation of source material that is authentic, useful and reliable.
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