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Film Studies: Navigating the Web

Library resources for film studies at Connecticut College.

What can I find on the open Web that will help me do my research?

As you may have noticed from browsing other pages in this guide, the Web presents a very rich array of resources for your film-related projects. There are multiple sites, for instance, to find film reviews, along with many places to find full-length films, clips and TV shows. But there are many other kinds of sites that you might find useful:

  • Digital collections or digital projects focusing on a filmmaker, genre or even a particular film. These can vary widely, both in terms of the content they provide and the rigor by which they have been put together, from proprietary "official" sites for filmmakers to fan sites to collections of critical essays put together by scholars.
  • Sites, such as imdb.com, that give lots of information about films and TV shows, including casts and crews.
  • Compilations or directories of other Web sites that provide the above kinds of resources. These can be used more or less like databases, insofar as they can help you better locate the information you're really looking for. As such, these can be some of the most useful sites to try because they help you navigate an an enormous world and help you bring it down to size. You'll find several links to some of the most important of these in the box at right.
  • As if you didn't already know, the Web contains millions of samples of writing—on personal blogs and Web sites, news sites, online magazines, company sites, advertisements and much, much more—that you can potentially use in your studies. See the boxes on the right-hand side of this page for more on searching for, and evaulating, these sites.

Some Key Web Resources

While links to two prominent kinds of film information — reviews and sites where you can find films/clips — are addressed elsewhere in this guide, here are a few more websites that provide film resources that may prove useful.

How can I evaluate the sites I find?

There are a few key questions you'll need to ask of Web sites, particularly if you seek to use them as a credible or authoritative source of insight. (For a more complete overview of this process, visit this site from the library at UC Berkeley.) But a quick overview of these questions is as follows:

  • What kinds of things are on the site, and to what extent are these resources relevant to your project?
  • Who wrote or compiled the site, and to what extent do you judge this person (or parties) do be credibly informed enough to have been compiling it?
  • Why was the site written? To share knowledge; to communicate something? To make money?
  • When was the site written or last updated? If it was a long time ago, might there be more recent information on the topic?
  • How was the information put together; was it edited, reviewed, refereed in some way? What does it list as its sources, and do you judge these to be credible?

How can I search for more Web sites?

If you've tried one of the databases on the left and still haven't found what you're looking for, you can always try a Google search. As you may know, though, Google searches tend to give you lots of irrelevant, useless or just plain wrong information. Here are a few tips on how to get to the good stuff.

  • Enclose phrases in quotes: so if you're looking for information on Martin Scorsese, search for "Martin Scorsese" (in quotes); Google will take this as a phrase instead of searching each word separately.
  • Further, if you're seeking digital projects on Scorsese, search for "digital collection," etc., along with "Martin Scorsese." Other terms to try (and remember that every additional term limits what Google will find, which can be a good thing): "digital archive," "digital library," "digital project," "papers," "manuscripts," "essays," "letters."
  • One way to narrow might also be to include the term "museum," "library," "film society" or "film institute" -- these kinds of institutions frequently sponsor useful online projects.
  • To that end, you can limit to only (for example) educational or nonprofit organizational sites by adding "site:edu" or "site:org" to your search terms. Google will then only look in the domain name you've specified.