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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Type in a keyword, title or name into the search box that appears in the top right hand corner of every page
  • From the top menu, select a category (Film, Television, People, History, Education or Tours) and browse the options available
  • The Film and Television sections feature some 3,000 film and television titles from 1895 to the present. Each section has four subsections: 'Genres and Themes' (or 'Genres, Themes and Formats' for Television), 'Industry and Audience', 'Places' and 'Films (or Television) by Decade'.
  • In the Film 'Genres and Themes section' and the Television 'Genres, Themes and Formats' sections you will find articles and titles for the major film and TV genres, including Thriller, Horror, War, Comedy, Police Drama, Sitcom, Literary Adaptation and Children's Television, as well as themes and categories including Black-, Asian- and Chinese-British film and Woman Protagonists.
  • In the 'Industry and Audience' sections, you'll find information and statistics about the film and TV industries, as well as articles about technology, cinemas and cinemagoing, film studios and film and television legislation and more.
  • You can find lists of titles grouped by date on the Television by Decade and Film by Decade pages. The list defaults to alphabetical order; click on the 'switch to chronological view' link to view in date order
  • You can browse titles by geographical region via the Film Places and Television Places pages
  • The History section collects film and television titles by historical theme
  • Educational materials, including lesson plans, starters, plenaries and other lesson ideas, as well as film and television titles listed by academic discipline, can be found in the Education Zone
  • The Tours section features a number of illustrated guides to a given subject area, intended for a general audience. You'll find tours on such subjects as Britishness and the British sense of humour, children's television and film marketing. Also in the Tours section is the BT/BFI Screenonline Archive Interactive series, featuring our celebrated interactive guides to Ealing Studios (presented by Jonathan Ross), Early Film Comedy (presented by Paul Merton) and Free Cinema (presented by Malcolm McDowell), all generously illustrated with film clips, and completely free to all users (you don't have to be in a registered UK educational establishment or public library.

Why can't I watch the video clips from home?

You can only view the clips from or via registered UK public libraries, schools, colleges and universities. For more information, and to find out how you can register your library or educational institution, see our registration help page. If you're not at a school or college, you can find a list of where you can view BFI Screenonline materials and how to get your local library registered in our FAQ section.

I'm a teacher and I would like to download film clips to use later in my own lessons. Is this possible?

We regret that, for reasons of copyright, you may not download BFI Screenonline video. The clips are 'streamed' from our server, which means they are not stored on your computer. Consequently, to use the clips in a lesson or lecture you will require a live connection to the Internet. Please note that many of the titles featured on BFI Screenonline are available to buy on VHS or DVD - see below for advice on locating titles.

I'm trying to locate a DVD/video of a television programme or film, or watch a BFI Screenonline title in its entirety - can you help?

We regret that we are unable to offer personal assistance in locating films or television programmes on DVD or video. We are also unable to make copies of either film prints or television broadcast master tapes for individuals, due to rights issues. However, we can offer the following suggestions:

  • The BFI website's 'Is it on DVD or video?' offers advice on video and DVD availability, where to purchase DVDs (including deleted titles) and how to arrange a screening.
  • If the title was originally produced by the BFI, you can search our catalogues and purchase BFI DVDs and videos at our Online Shop or find BFI shorts and feature-length titles at our Download Shop (UK only).
  • You can also view, download, repurpose and share clips and short titles from the BFI Archive (including material from BFI Screenonline and the BFI Mediatheque) for free from the BFI Creative Archive.
  • If the title is unavailable to purchase, you may be able to view it at the BFI Mediatheque at the BFI Southbank, London or QUAD, Derby. The Mediatheque features short films, feature-length films and television programmes sourced from the BFI National Archive, including many (but not all) BFI Screenonline titles, to view in their entirety. A number of additional Regional Mediatheques are in development.
  • If the title is unavailable through any other source, and you need to access it for the purpose of research, you may be able to arrange to view it via the BFI Research Viewing Service.
  • You can view BFI Screenonline clips at your local UK public library. Please see the FAQ for more details. Alternatively, if you are based at a college or university and you wish to view materials televised post-1995, you may wish to contact your library or resources department, as they have been entitled to record programmes off-air since that date. The British Universities Film and Video Council also operates an off-air television recording back-up service for its membership of higher and further education organisations.
  • To track down more information related to the film or television programme, you can contact BFI Information Services via its online query form or telephone +44 (0)20 7255 1444 and ask for Information (Mon - Fri, 10am - 5pm).
  • In addition, the BFI website's Facts on Film contains a range of information to help find the answers to your queries, and the Film Links Gateway provides annotated links to other useful websites.

Why isn't my favourite personality, film or television programme featured on BFI Screenonline?

It may be simply that we haven't got to it yet. We are constantly adding new biographies, films and television programmes to BFI Screenonline. Check the What's New page regularly to see what has recently been added. Also, the focus of BFI Screenonline is British film and television; it may be that the title in question is not technically 'British', even if it features a British cast or has a British director. If there are films, television programmes or topics you'd like to see on the site, please tell us about them via the feedback form. A further reason for the may be related to copyright - we need to seek permission from third parties to include video and, in most cases, still images on BFI Screenonline; this takes time, and permission is not always granted.

How can I contact an actor, screenwriter, producer or director? / I'm looking for a script from a film or a television production / I would like to find out more about a title...

We regret that we cannot assist with questions that are not directly related to the BFI Screenonline website. You can address any general film and television queries to the BFI Information Service. Please note that for detailed research requests, charges may be applicable. Alternatively, you may wish to visit the BFI National Library to carry out your own research. You may also find useful film and television information for your research on the BFI website, including:

  • Facts on Film - contains a range of information to help find the answers to your queries, including industry statistics and a researchers' guide.
  • Film Links Gateway - provides annotated links to other useful websites.

Why are there no video clips available for some titles?

It may be that video will be added shortly. Alternatively, video may be absent because we do not yet have permission from the appropriate rightsholder, or because no source materials are available. We strive to make video available whenever possible. In rare cases, there may be no footage known to exist.

I have discovered a factual error. Who should I contact?

Please contact the BFI Screenonline team via the feedback form, detailing the exact nature of the problem, and the web address of where you have found it. We are very grateful for error reports and endeavour to investigate them as quickly as possible.

I'm trying to locate or hire a film print, video or DVD for showing at a school, film society or private viewing

The BFI website contains catalogues of film prints, DVDs and videos for hire from the BFI National Archive. The BFI Information Service may also be able to help you track down a title.

Can I purchase footage from the BFI Screenonline website from the BFI?

Archival Footage Sales provide access to the BFI National Archive for commercial clients (e.g. film and television programme makers, galleries and museums). If you are hoping to use film footage n a project that you are working on, please be aware that using archive materials incurs charges, e.g. for copyright, materials and transfer fees. We regret that we are unable to supply copies of material to private collectors or individuals for personal use. However, you may be able to arrange a research viewing.

If you are mainly interested in newsreel footage, the British Universities Film and Video Council has a portal to various sites featuring archive footage.

How can I find out about current and future BFI DVD and video releases, and BFI screenings?

To find out which DVDs and videos the BFI currently publishes, or to receive advance notice of releases, please see the DVD and Video section of the BFI website. For information on what the BFI is showing in London and around the UK, see the BFI website's listings pages.

I would like a copy of a still image that features on the BFI Screenonline website.

Most of the stills that feature on BFI Screenonline are sourced from BFI Stills, Posters and Designs. For more information on how to buy reproduction images from the collection please email BFI Stills, Posters and Designs with your research request. Please list all UK and international film or television titles and/or the personality names that you are interested in sourcing, as well as your intended usage for the images. The archive is also open to visitors by advance appointment, Tuesdays - Fridays. However, please note that these stills remain the property of the relevant rightsholder, whose permission would in most cases be required (copyright clearance is the responsibility of the user). You may wish to contact the BFI Information Department, who should be able to advise you on copyright ownership. It should be additionally noted that there is no refund available for non-usage of stills. The re-selling of stills supplied by the BFI is strictly forbidden.

Why do you feature '18' certificate films on a site aimed at schools?

The vast majority of video material on BFI Screenonline is suitable for viewers of all ages. A limited amount of material is more adult in content, but it is our policy not to feature video material that would be considered unsuitable for a '15' certificate by the British Board of Film Classification - see the BBFC's guidelines on the 15 certificate. Teachers and parents should use their discretion before allowing children to view BFI Screenonline material unsupervised, and we recommend that teachers view clips in advance before showing to a class. BFI Screenonline is aimed at a wide audience, including users in schools, colleges and universities, as well all those with an interest in British film and television. As such, it is our responsibility to cover British cinema and television in all its diversity.