Explore and share the key moments of film history.
What does a Film Historian do?
Film Historians are experts on the rich history of moving pictures. They’ve spent years of their lives watching films; reading books, essays, and articles about them; and composing works of their own. Much more than mere Critics, they understand a film’s unique place in history, its social context, and the circumstances surrounding its development and creation. Most Film Historians work in academia, and spend much of their time doing research and writing scholarly pieces.
If you love films and enjoy taking that love to the next level by doing intense research, then this could be a career goal for you. You’ll watch at least part of a movie almost every single working day of your life. But it’s not all popcorn and projection booths; there’s some serious reading and writing to be done as well. As a Film Historian, it’s your responsibility to contribute something meaningful to the broader conversation about every film, Director, Actor, or Producer you study.
Most Film Historians specialize in a particular type or era of film: like silent films, “Golden Age,” or French New Wave. Some of these categories are well defined, but others may offer you greater flexibility in establishing the guiding principles of your research and publishing career.
Your work obligations will be defined by your employment setting. A larger institution with lots of money and resources may give you free reign to research and publish at a relaxed pace, counting on publicity and prestige coming in from your work. A smaller school or foundation, on the other hand, may set a more rigorous schedule for you, and assign you additional duties to help draw income. Forty hours of “work” per week, plus additional time giving presentations or attending screenings and social events, is a realistic schedule.