Making Use of Decades-Old News Footage

By Chris Ariens 

When your news division is 60 years old, you’re bound to find some long-ago film that’s worth sharing today.

That’s what Italian filmmaker Marco Spagnoli found when he made the trip from Rome to New York and spent a week screening footage at the NBC News Archives at 30 Rock. “This very rare footage seemed to be just waiting for me to discover,” said Spagnoli who is using the film for his documentary, “Hollywood Invasion.”

Spagnoli discovered what many experts consider to be the best existing footage of the filming of “Ben Hur” and a 1966 report featuring shots of a very young and still unknown Clint Eastwood. The documentary also includes footage of Sofia Loren in Paris, and coverage of President Kennedy on a trip in Naples just four months before his death.

And rather than sitting on a shelf collecting dust, NBC News is generating revenue from the material. “We are excited to offer unprecedented access to documentary producers who are interested in mining NBC’s rich archives to tell new stories,” says Clara Fon-Sing, VP & General Manager of NBC News Archives Sales and Strategy. “We are literally opening our archives, and encourage clients to come in and uncover outtakes never used before and shots rarely seen.”

“Hollywood Invasion” premieres at the 68th annual Venice Film Festival this Thursday. It will make its television premiere on Studio Universal — an NBCU international network available in Italy, Latin America and Turkey — on September 21.