Special collections include the papers of individuals and organisations, stills, posters, costume and production designs, animation cels and promotional material, as well as many other unpublished items including scripts, storyboards and autographed letters.
Scripts, documents and ephemera
We have over 600 named paper archive collections relating to producers such as Michael Balcon, David Puttnam and Betty Box, directors including David Lean, Joseph Losey, Michael Powell, Carol Reed, Mike Hodges, Muriel Box and Derek Jarman, writers such as Emeric Pressburger, Janet Green and Trevor Griffiths and documentary filmmakers such as Humphrey Jennings, Derek Armstrong and Michael Orrom. We have a collection of BBFC Scenario reports spanning the 1930s and 40s as well as large archives relating to organisations such as Associated Rediffusion Television, the Film Society and Granada Cinemas. Recent acquisitions include the archives of Ken Loach, Richard Lester, Karel Reisz, Jack Clayton, Ken Annakin and Halas & Batchelor.
The collections cover all sorts of roles within the cinema and television industries. We also hold the archives of actors, cinematographers, editors, script supervisors and cinema owners as well as many others. There are over 30,000 unpublished film and television scripts in the collection as well as 30,000 press books, music cue sheets and individual items of ephemera.
You can search our collections for scripts, documents and ephemera, and then access items by appointment via the BFI Reuben Library at BFI Southbank. Our opening hours are Tuesday-Thursday 10:30-13:00 and 14:00-17:30. Please use the contact form to get in touch.
Please note that owing to high demand, it’s best to give as much notice as possible if you wish to consult the collections. Scripts from the unpublished script collection can usually be viewed without an appointment but as all materials are stored off-site, please allow up to one week for requests.
Our collection contains over 2 million images from more than 150,000 films and television programmes (the TV stills collection alone contains around 750,000 images). These photographs capture moments on and off the screen and feature portraits of the world’s most famous stars as well as the legends behind the camera who made them famous. The stills collection also features incredible images of studios, cinemas and special events from 1896 up to the present day. Over 80,000 images from the collection have been digitised and can be viewed via our database in the BFI Reuben Library. For commercial enquiries regarding stills please visit our Stills sales and Archive footage sales pages.
Posters and designs
Our collection contains around 15,000 film posters from all over the world. These span the early 1900s up to the present day, and as well as feature films the collection includes posters for newsreels, cinema events and some television programmes.
We have over 3,000 original costume and production designs from renowned figures such as Julie Harris, Alfred Junge, Hein Heckroth and Paul Leni. The collection also includes storyboards, sketches and animation cels and we have significant animation collections relating to John Ryan and Halas & Batchelor.
A large part of the Posters and designs collection has been digitised and can be viewed via our database in the BFI Reuben Library.