Fonds UBCA-ARC-1426 - Paperny Films fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Paperny Films fonds

General material designation

  • Multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: The title is based on the contents of the fonds.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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Physical description area

Physical description

5.90 m of textual material.
15,228 photographs.
3,300 audiovisual recordings.
c. 72 CDs (digital records), 27 floppy discs (3½"), 6 Zip drives and 1 Jaz drive.

Publisher's series area

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Administrative history

Paperny Films is an internationally recognized, independent, Vancouver-based production company established in 1994.
Following graduation with a Master's Degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications, David Paperny took a position with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Toronto in 1983, first as a researcher and then as a producer. In 1989, he moved to Vancouver to produce documentaries for the CBC, which included 1993's The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter, which earned Paperny an Academy Award nomination in 1994. That same year David Paperny along with his wife and fellow Annenberg graduate Audrey Mehler. From an original staff of two, Paperny Films has grown over the years to include a permanent staff of eighteen with an additional 100-200 production staff on contract at any given time. Currently, Paperny Films has seven productions running simultaneously and is considered one of the busiest West coast production companies. In 2006 Paperny's production budget totalled more than $9 million.
Since its inception, Paperny Films has adopted a relatively broad scope of programming. The material includes in-depth profiles of well-known Canadians, including Mordecai Richler, Jimmy Pattison, Nancy Greene, Henry Morgentaler. Productions have included historical documentaries subjects such as the history of British Columbia, the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, the Holocaust, the Canadian War Experience during World War II and the Korean War and the history of the Canadian airline industry; science documentaries showcasing Canadian medical research; social documentaries on arranged marriages in the Canadian Sikh community and Canadian emigration to the United States; sports documentaries, lifestyle documentaries; the Canadian business establishment and the black market trade in human organs. The reality series in this collection examine the issues of being single in Vancouver and the experience of functioning as a surrogate mother.
Until the creation in 2006 of a documentary intended for theatre release, the market for Paperny productions was exclusively television. Networks that have purchased broadcast rights to Paperny productions include; CBC, CTV, Discovery Health, Global, History Television, the Independent Film Channel, Life Network, LOGO, Slice TV. While many of the productions have a uniquely Canadian subject matter and tell important stories of the Canadian experience, they also have a resonance extending beyond its national borders. As a result, Paperny Films continues to contribute to the growing Vancouver film and television sector.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of 44 separate archival series most of which are based on specific production titles. For each title there is a digital master copy of the program(s). Each production includes a set of video and audio elements, the bulk of which are original shoot tapes. In addition there is also corresponding textual material that helps provide context and background for the development of the various projects. The textual and a/v materials have been described in separate sections of the inventory. For both sets of material the numbers assigned during the original cataloguing and creation of the database have been retained and appear in square brackets [ ] as part of the descriptions to allow for cross referencing as necessary.
First donation: This donation is Paperny Film's first to an archival repository and it represents 27 of the company's indigenous proprietary titles (1996-2004) of their approximately 55 non-fiction productions (1996-2007). The collection is comprehensive in that it offers digital master copies of each of the title/series included in this donation. There are 62 original masters that include over 50 hours of recordings. There is also a DVD copy of each of the master tapes to provide easy access to the information.
The collection features over 1900 a/v elements arising from some 27 separate productions. The scope of material includes: BetacamSP, MiniDV, Digial Betacam, DVD, VHS, CDs and digital audio tapes. The majority of the collection consists of original shoot tapes. There are over 1,000 hours of video recordings featuring prominent Canadian including Mortecai Richler, Henry Morgentaler, Jimmy Pattison, and Nancy Green.
In addition to the obvious importance of providing access to full interview interviews with and about prominent Canadians, the a/v elements are also quite instructive in helping communicate an understanding of the creative process that gave rise to particular productions.
The textual material extents to approximately 5.15 metres and also includes over 13,000 photographic images. The images document the various production shoots and, in some cases, include copies of historical photographs/documents that were used in the productions.
Examples of the types of records included with the textual material include: treatments, outlines, synopses, proposals; collected research materials; correspondence relating to development, production, publicity; original interview notes and transcripts, interview schedules; scripts (and drafts), storyboards; production schedules, production reports and daily call sheets; publicity stills, negatives, transparencies and digital photographs; marketing plans, publicity packages, one-sheets, press releases and coverage; transcripts of completed shows; EDL's (edited decision list), assembly notes, tape logs; credit rolls, final credits and super lists.
Of particular interest in the textual material are a set of handwritten notebooks created by David Paperny, Audrey Mehler and others. Seventeen in total, these notebooks are in Box 1 (3,4,5,6,11,12,13,14,15); Box 4 (3,8); Box 6 (17); Box 11 (23a); and Box 12 (8).
Second donation: The second donation from Paperny Film's represents 15 of the productions (1993-2006) including the Academy Award nominated The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter. The collection offers digital master copies of each of the title/series included in this donation. There are 183 original masters and a DVD copy of each to provide easy access to the
The collection features over 1200 AV elements arising from 15 separate productions, some of which have several seasons associated with them. The scope of material includes: BetacamSP, MiniDV, Digital Betacam, DVC Pro, DVCAM, Betacam SX, DVD, VHS, CDs and digital audio tapes. The majority of the collection consists of original shoot tapes.
There are roughly 75 cm of textual material in the newest accession.
Examples of the types of records included with the textual material include: episode synopses, outlines and storyboards; graphics; proposals; collected research materials; correspondence; original interview notes and transcripts; schedules; research notes and materials; scripts; publicity stills, negatives, transparencies and digital photographs; marketing plans, advertisements, publicity packages, one-sheets, press releases and coverage; and transcripts of completed shows.
The textual material also includes handwritten notebooks created by David Paperny, found in Box 77 (1-12) and Box 78 (1-8).

Notes area

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Access restrictions: none.

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Finding aids

Online Finding Aid
Please see the finding aid for an inventory.

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Further accruals are expected.

General note

No hardware currently to access Zip and Jaz drives at the archives.

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