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Academy Visual History Collection

Since 2012 the Academy’s Visual History Program has been recording oral histories on HD born-digital video, seeking to document diverse representatives from a wide variety of film professions. Some of the collection’s interviewees include: Emmanuelle Riva, Randy Thom, Albert Maysles, Gena Rowlands, Jiri Menzel, Sharmila Tagore, Jonas Mekas, Barbara Hammer, Tony Walton, Irwin Young, DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. To date, the program has conducted more than 30 interviews, shooting an average 25 interviews per year in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the New York Tri-State Area. Interviews generally range from 2-6 hours long. The collection includes video, photos and transcripts. Transcripts are available on request.


Academy Oral History Collection

The Oral History Program’s collection consists of more than 70 in-depth audio oral histories on subjects ranging from art direction and film editing to censorship and Academy history. Beginning in 1989, the program has sought to document the lives and careers of individuals who have worked in various areas of the motion picture industry. The collection consists of audio tapes, including master cassettes and access copies; digital masters; edited transcripts; indexes; and photo documentation. Published oral histories can be accessed by appointment at the Margaret Herrick Library.

For more information about the Oral History Collection, click here:

Howard Walls Interview Collection

The Academy’s earliest oral histories were recorded by Howard Walls, the Academy’s first film curator. The collection is comprised of polyester, acetate, and paper-based audio tape from interviews Walls conducted in 1948 and 1949 with several silent filmmakers, notably J. Searle Dawley, Albert E. Smith, Edgar Davenport and actress Blanche Sweet. Walls called the project “Voice Recordings of Film Pioneers,” and although short-lived, his interviews give a  fascinating look into early cinema. To hear J. Searle Dawley describe giving D.W. Griffith his first acting job, click below.

Craig Jacobson Visual History Interview Collection

This collection of interviews with lawyers, agents, producers and executives was financed, coordinated and donated by Mr. Craig Jacobson.  The interviews were conducted between 2008 and 2013 and include oral histories with Sid Sheinberg, Pat Kingsley and Richard Zanuck. The collection consists of videotapes, reference DVDs and files.

Writers Guild Foundation ‘Writer Speaks’ Oral Histories

Founded in 1966 as a non-profit institution, the Writers Guild Foundation supports and provides educational programs devoted to the art, craft and history of writing for the screen. Their archival collections contain the personal papers of prominent writers, vintage scripts, photographs, artifacts, the historical records of the Writers Guild of America, West, one of the first labor unions in the entertainment industry, as well as oral histories.  The Writers Guild Foundation’s oral history program, The Writer Speaks, includes over 60 visual history interviews with award-winning film and television writers intimately sharing stories about their lives, career and craft.

For more information about the Writer Speaks interviews, click here.

International Cinematographers Guild - Interview Collection

The International Cinematographers Guild represents directors of photography, camera operators and assistants, visual effects supervisors, still photographers, and publicists. The technicians and artisans in the guild work in film, television, live entertainment, animation, special effects, and new media. The Guild was chartered in New York in 1926 and in Los Angeles in 1928.The guild has recorded 433 oral and visual history interviews, of which nearly 300 are housed at the Academy Film Archive. The collection includes such interviewees as László Kovács, Allen Daviau, and Vilmos Zsigmond.


The Academy is working to form a consortium of seven guilds, unions and foundations, whose combined collections number over 1,000 oral history interviews. The goal of this collaboration is to unify efforts, exchange best practices, and seek common solutions to problems.  

Art Directors Guild

Film Music Foundation

International Cinematographers Guild

Motion Picture Editors Guild


Screen Actors Guild Foundation

Writers Guild Foundation