47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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We get a lot of queries asking about how to locate films. So we thought this brief guide might be of some use.
This guide is aimed at people in the UK, or trying to track down UK films on video. I imagine the process is similar in other countries but I can't really give you any more information than that.
Videos in the UK are normally supplied in VHS format (the size of the cassette) and PAL encoding (the way the picture is stored). To play them, you need a VCR which is capable of playing PAL VHS tapes. All VCR's sold in the UK can do this, and many of the better models sold around the world can handle PAL VHS tapes.
Likewise, DVDs in the UK are normally supplied with PAL encoding: see one of the many DVD technical sites for more information on this subject. The DVD market in the UK is still rather new, and people looking for a particular film on DVD are advised just to try some of the larger sites. Some of the information below may also be useful.
All titles currently being published are held in a database which is updated monthly. This database is quite expensive, but there is a searchable web interface to it kindly provided by MovieMail. Enter the film you are looking for in the search box, and then choose the "Other Sources-> Look for additional results in UK In-Print Database" link. The first step is to see if you can find the film you are looking for in the database.
If you find the title in the "in print" database, then you can go to one of the sites which offer to supply any "in print" title e,g, MovieMail or BlackStar and order it from them.
Almost all feature films need to have a BBFC certificate before they're allowed on video. You can check whether a film has been certified using the BBFC database. This will also tell you the distributor who submitted the film and who (presumably) sells it.
If the film you're looking for appears in the BBFC database but not in the In Print database then either:
Most distributors stop producing a video after a few years and the film is "deleted" i.e. the production master is destroyed. If this is your case, you have a few options:
Blackstar offer a film finding service and MovieMail hold some titles which have been deleted.
If you want to purchase a real film, there are more around than you may think. There is a newsletter in the UK devoted to film print sales (although I can't remember what it's called). There are also (American based) sections on the popular internet auction sites for selling and buying prints. Bear in mind that most of these prints don't come with a license to show them, and you need to have a projector to fully appreciate them!
None of the above information is claimed to be authoritative. They are just some pointers to help you track down that elusive film. This page does not necessarily reflect the views of EUFS, EUSA or the University of Edinburgh. EUFS has no commercial affiliation with MovieMail or BlackStar.