British Pathé reclaims rights to its newsreel collection
British Pathé press release – London – 19 April, 2017.
British Pathé, the world-famous newsreel archive, has this month launched a new licensing service in the German-speaking world. This marks the first time in many years that media professionals in these territories will be able to license footage from British Pathé directly, rather than dealing with third-party representatives.
Simon Witter has been appointed to oversee the service as British Pathé’s Licensing Executive for Germany and Eastern Europe. Witter, 54, has a passion for archive footage and extensive experience of licensing from the other side of the aisle, having worked as a documentary filmmaker in recent decades. He has directed archive-rich films and series for a range of European broadcasters that have won a string of international awards.
“My background in production gives me a unique insight into the needs of programme-makers,” says Witter, “and I’m looking forward enormously to working with, and getting to know, producers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and beyond.”
“The British Pathé archive is a treasure trove of historical gems, from the quirky to the momentous. It allows programme makers to paint a vivid picture of life in the 20th century, and I’m particularly excited about introducing its riches to territories where there is opportunity to dramatically grow brand awareness.”
“British Pathé is an outstanding business, founded on unique content and a peerless reputation in the industry. I am delighted to have joined this award-winning team, and I think most clients will see dealing with us directly as a welcome change. It has significant advantages for them, not the least of which is that our entire collection is already fully digitised.”
Rare among archives, every frame of British Pathé’s 85,000 newsreels, documentaries and cinemagazines is viewable and searchable online. Crucially, this resource is complemented by free, 24/7 screener downloads, a popular tool that saves clients time and money at the offline edit stage.
Other services proven in the UK that will now also be available to German customers include a free and comprehensive bespoke research service, same-day delivery of broadcast quality material and HD transfers from the original 35mm film.
“The archive’s coverage of German politics and culture is very strong,” says Witter, “with well over 4000 films, featuring everything from Kaiser Wilhelm II in the late 1890s to a documentary about the Berlin Wall in 1971 and beyond, via historical milestones and an extraordinary assortment of strange and wonderful stories from the world of German fashion, sport, nature, art, technology and lifestyle.”
“You’d expect to find the great moments in the national life of Germany here, but there are also films about a human plastination service in Düsseldorf, belly dance striptease in Munich, people wearing special flu and radiation suits on the streets of Hamburg, Tom Jones being taken down the salt mines at Berchtesgaden to get his gold disc for ‘Delilah’, spectacular safety belt test crashes of the 60s, ice hockey carnivals, dog restaurants, bears and monkeys making hospital visits, unusual art, way-out fashions, mad scientific breakthroughs, bizarre mechanical toys and a wealth of stories that pay testimony to the humour, eccentricity and ingenuity of the German people. There is weeks of fun to be had trying to watch them all.”
“It is however our British focus that makes us unique in the marketplace. We are, for example, the definitive source for anything on the Royal Family in the twentieth century.”
Alastair White, the General Manager of British Pathé, appointed Mr Witter. “We couldn’t be happier that Simon agreed to become part of our team,” he says. “I feel it’s very important that we are as close to our customers as possible, and having a German-speaker who is also a former producer on board is a real asset for us.”
Mr White adds: “Simon joins us at an exciting time for the company. With our website, YouTube channels and licensing customers around the world, more people are watching British Pathé newsreels today than at any time since they stopped being shown in cinemas. Now we have to build upon that and take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity. Simon will be an important part of this process.”
German customers can begin licensing from British Pathé immediately.
About British Pathé
British Pathé was once a dominant feature of the British cinema experience, renowned for first-class reporting and an informative yet unique entertaining style. Now considered to be the finest newsreel archive in the world, British Pathé is a treasure trove of 85,000 films unrivalled in historical and cultural significance. Spanning the years from 1896 to 1976, the collection includes footage from around the globe of major events, famous faces, fashion trends, travel, science and culture. It is an invaluable resource for broadcasters, documentary producers and archive researchers worldwide.