8 October 2021

National Film and Sound Archive preserving lockdown's creative collection

| Robert Keeley
Screen showing parody of star-rating of 2020 by film reviewers Margaret and David

Most people would agree that 2020 was a disappointing failure. Photo: National Film and Sound Archive.

A project to archive the sights and sounds of creative Australians’ projects during COVID-19 has occupied the specialists at the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) recently.

Among some of the quirky bits and pieces preserved for posterity in the NFSA’s ‘Creativity in the Time of COVID’ project – which has been running throughout Australia’s arduous lockdowns – you’ll find the YouTube hit, Nat’s What I Reckon, which takes cooking shows in a bizarre direction thanks to rocker host Nat.

You can also find internet hit Love in Lockdown, an unlikely romantic comedy created by TV comedians Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope.

Creativity in the Time of COVID’ began in March 2020 with the aim of preserving the work of many creative Australians through the COVID-19 pandemic and exposing these works to a wide audience.

Vick Gwyn, curator of the Creative Curatorial section at NFSA, says the extended COVID-19 lockdowns many Australians have faced has been “an interesting time for everyone and for archives”.

“Many institutions have been considering [how to develop] their collections,” she says.

‘Creativity in the Time of COVID’ includes TV shows, radio and film, and ranges from documents and scripts through to still photography.

Screenshot from 'Nat's What I Reckon' YouTube show

Nat’s What I Reckon on YouTube has been a lockdown hit. Photo: National Film and Sound Archive.

Vick says the project has been fortunate to collaborate with ‘Australia Locked Down’, an organisation based in Melbourne.

“It’s a grassroots organisation overseen by Jamie van Leeuwen which has collected a range of materials,” she says.

‘Creativity in the Time of COVID’ has primarily been supplied with digital material, including items such as web series and vlogs. Vick says NFSA acquires material for this project through three methods.

‘Newscaf’ covers news and current affairs, and includes radio; a Deliverables program partners state bodies which are funding productions including film features and documentaries; and Targeted Acquisitions includes items from YouTube such as Nat’s What I Reckon, that Vick says has taken “a wonderful approach to mental health”.

NFSA also collects oral histories, but Vick points out this has not been possible face-to-face during COVID-19 so curator Sean O’Brien has interviewed a range of creatives through Zoom video conferencing meetings, including Robyn and Wayne from Love in Lockdown.

“Our objective has been to offer an overview of what’s happened with creatives in the time of COVID-19, and what’s resonating,” says Vick.

“Our recurring theme has been connecting with others. We’re definitely encouraging people to look at our collections online.”

The ‘Creativity in the Time of COVID’ archive is offering a curated selection of material along with links to other creatives. Visitors can binge on whole series and material is regularly updated.

Screenshot of Zoom call

Love in Lockdown is a relatable series for Australians in isolation. Photo: National Film and Sound Archive.

The overall NFSA objective is to collect, preserve and share the living memories and stories of Australians through audiovisual material, which can include everything from video and still images to documents. The NFSA collection currently contains more than three million items covering people, culture, ideas and beliefs. The collection wants Australians to connect, no matter their background and life experiences, and find common ground and a sense of community.

The archive says its strategic priorities are “to collect and connect, engage, educate and empower, innovate and collaborate, and foster and lead Australians in exploring their history”.

To view the archive, go to ‘Creativity in the Time of COVID’.

An associated blog can be found here.

The National Film and Sound Archive is planning to update the online Curated Collection in a few months with new material so it advises interested patrons to regularly check the NFSA website.

Original Article published by Robert Keeley on The RiotACT.

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