The South West Film and Television Archive is the regional film archive for the South West of England. It is the largest regional film archive in the UK, a member of the UK Film Archive Network (FAUK) and recognised as one of the UK’s significant screen heritage collections. SWFTA is a partner in the SW and West Midlands Film Audience Hub (BFI's Film Audience Hubs Scheme) and a key partner in the Plymouth History Centre Project. 

SWFTA was established in 1993 following the closure of the TSW Studios in Plymouth. The core collection is the Westward and TSW material. The rights in this collection are owned entirely by SWFTA. SWFTA also holds around 1,000 other deposits from amateur film makers and local industries dating back to the 1890s. The collections cover an area from the Isles of Scilly in the west to Bournemouth in the east and as far north as Gloucestershire, and includes all the county and unitary authorities in the South West.

SWFTA is an independent registered charity and a non-profit making company limited by guarantee. It is governed by a board of directors who are also trustees of the charity. The archive is managed by a full time Executive Director who is also a qualified Archivist, and supported by professional administrative and technical personnel and a strong cohort of volunteers.

What we do:

SWFTA's primary activities include, acquiring, preserving and providing access to the regions visual moving image heritage, providing footage for public exhibitions and screenings, being involved in community projects working alongside other cultural, arts and heritage organisations, producing and selling DVDs, working with film makers, broadcasters and partners from other regional and national film archives, as well as providing copies of footage for members of the public.

How we are funded:

Our core funding comes in the form of Grant in Aid from the BFI which we apply for on an annual basis along with a three year business plan. This level of funding is matched by Service Level Agreements with Plymouth City Council (2012-present) and Plymouth University (2013-present). SWFTA supports core expenditure through the development of earned income revenue streams which includes footage sales, DVDs, film shows, licensing and relicensing.

SWFTA has also benefitted from numerous successful project funding bids to develop cataloguing and digitisation of our collections (2010-2012), to develop new approaches to volunteer engagement (2013-2014), and to discover content from the collections we care for in preparation for the BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage programme (2013-2014).

Current key projects and partnerships:

The BFI’s Film Audience Hubs Scheme (2013-present): SWFTA is an active partner in the SW and West Midlands Hub, working with various cultural organisations and venues across the region in the delivery of innovative and creative programmes designed to engage new audiences. Key regional partnerships developed through this scheme include: Watershed, Awen, Curzon, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth Arts Centre, Strode Theatre and Exeter Pheonix.

The Strength in Numbers Project (2012-present): Working in partnership with the Media Archive for Central England (MACE) to develop common approaches to content management through the creation of a shared database and front end interface with ecommerce functionality, allowing more efficient access to our resources. Key partnerships developed: Media Archive for Central England (MACE) and London Screen Archives. This project will also improve on existing partnerships with the wider film archive network (FAUK) as project outcomes are disseminated.

The BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage Project (2013-present): SWFTA is actively contributing to this national project to discover content within the collections to be showcased on the BFI’s BFIPlayer. The material digitised for this project will create a body of work which can be used effectively in the PHC. Key partnerships developed with the BFI and the wider film archive network (FAUK).

The Plymouth History Centre Project (2012-present). SWFTA is a key partner in the development of this multi million pound project to bring together five significant collections currently spread throughout the City. Key partnerships developed with SWiB, Plymouth University, Plymouth City Council heritage teams.

Our key audiences: 

Commercial Broadcast communities such as ITV, BBC and independent Production Companies including the Discovery Channel, God TV, Point of View Productions, Cornish Living TV, CBTV, Passion Pictures, Hat Trick, Japan TV, and Channel 4. We have built good relationships with the broadcast community over the years, with our material being used in a variety of on screen programmes and documentaries. In 2013, we acquired part of the BBC film archive for safekeeping reflecting the growing partnership between the BBC and the archive.

Art and cultural organisations: We have provided material for a wide range of community screenings and exhibitions throughout the region and further afield. Previous engagements include: The HLF funded Tre Project (2009-2013), the North Devon Movie Bus Project (2010-2014), Plymouth Pictured, a City through a Lens (2011) and Cinematic City (2011), Young Explainers (2012), Resurgam (2013), Take a Part (2013), the River Tamar Project (2013), Three Towns in Focus (2014) and Foto Then and Now (2015).

Academia: Our SLA with Plymouth University has allowed our material to be used in innovative ways, supporting the development of individual learning programmes and the implementation of creative partnership collaborations between the University and the archive.

Local history researchers and members of the public.

Films: From amateur film collections @ SWFTA

See also:

Meet the Trustees
Meet the Staff
Meet the Volunteers
Meet our Funders

Download and print our SWFTA FACTSHEET here