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COLLECTION Identifier: hfa00004

Dick Fontaine Paper and Film Outtakes Collection


Paper and film material of the British filmmaker Dick Fontaine. Material consists of papers surrounding all stages of production for films produced and directed by Fontaine from 1960-1990 and a large collection of 16mm motion picture and audio outtake material from his 1982 film I Heard it Through the Grapevine.


  • 1960-1990

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research. Materials may be requested for use in the Houghton Library reading room. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.
Film materials in this collection are made accessible by appointment only and in close consultation with HFA staff. Although films do not circulate for individual use, students, filmmakers, artists, and researchers are encouraged to use the collections on-site. If their condition allows, prints from the HFA collection may be viewed on a flatbed viewer at the HFA’s Conservation Center.

Use Restrictions

Reproduction and/or publication of materials subject to copyright requires written permission from a) the copyright owner, his/her heirs or assigns and from b) the Fine Arts Library, owner of the original material.


63 boxes
The Dick Fontaine paper and outtakes collection contains research materials, production materials, and the films of Grapevine Productions, run by Dick Fontaine and Pat Hartley. The majority of materials are related to the research and production of the film I Heard it Through the Grapevine, a documentary in which writer James Baldwin revisits the deep south to reexamine the scenes of civil rights strife in the sixties. The film material includes 16 mm picture and sound outtakes from the film. The paper material includes pre-production materials related to the topic of the film, including research, notes, newspaper clippings, reports, and correspondence. It also includes production materials, including scripts, interview transcripts, shot lists, correspondence, contracts, clearances, as well as materials regarding the screening and reception of the film, including publicity materials, reviews, correspondence, and contracts.

The archive also contains a smaller portion of paper material for other works by Grapevine Productions, including the music documentaries Beat This: A Hip Hop History (1984), Art Blakey: The Jazz Messenger (1988), and the book project Earl: The Autobiography of DMX, which would later be published by Fontaine and Hartley's son, Smokey Fontaine. Also in the collection are scripts, notations, and budgets for Mrs. Chaney's Quilt, a film project started by Fontaine and Hartley around 1994 based on the life of Fannie Lee Chaney, mother of American civil rights worker James Earl Chaney who was murdered during Freedom Summer by members of the Ku Klux Klan near Philadelphia, Mississippi. The project was never completed, but audio cassettes and videotapes from interviews conducted with Fannie Lee Chaney and people close to the family exist in the Harvard Film Archive's collection. The Bremer Project refers to an unfinished film project based on the attempt by Arthur H. Bremer to assassinate Governor George Wallace in 1972. Tomorrow Brought Us Rain is a project for the stage based on the works of James Baldwin as arranged by Dick Fontaine.

Biographical / Historical

Dick Fontaine is an English documentary filmmaker, credited with introducing the techniques of Direct Cinema to British television. Fontaine was one of the founders of Granada Television's World in Action series and has produced, directed, and written more than forty films specializing in documentary, African-American music, and original drama subjects.


Organized into the following series:
  1. I. Paper Materials
  2. ___ Art Blakey: The Jazz Messenger
  3. ___ Beat This: A Hip Hop History
  4. ___Bremer Project
  5. ___ Earl: The Autobiography of DMX
  6. ___ Hustler's Convention
  7. ___ I Heard it Through the Grapevine
  8. ___ Mrs. Chaney's Quilt
  9. ___ Tomorrow Brought Us Rain
  10. ___Television Projects
  11. ___Miscellaneous
  12. II. Film and Photographic Materials

Acquisition Information

Donated by Dick Fontaine in 2006.

Separated Materials

Film prints, video materials, and video copies of Fontaine's films are housed and described separately in the Harvard Film Archives' collection. These materials are searchable in Hollis, and can be accessed by contacting the Harvard Film Archive.

Processing Information

Encoded by: Amy Sloper October, 2008
Link to catalog
Dick Fontaine Paper and Film Outtakes Collection, 1960-1990: Finding Aid
Harvard Film Archive, Fine Arts Library, Harvard College Library

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Film Archive, Harvard Library, Harvard University Repository

24 Quincy Street
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 496-6750