Featuring: Alba Toajas, Madrid

“Research, documentation and cinema: the perfect combination, I love my job!”

You are quite new in the archival research world. What made you want to become an archive researcher in the first place?

I have always been into art, cinema and theatre. In 2006 I realized I wanted to become a librarian, and in 2010 I decided to specialise in audiovisual research. Research, documentation and cinema: the perfect combination, I love my job!

We are seeing a new dynamic generation of archival researchers blooming in Spain. What can you tell us about it?

The MA in audiovisual research and archive [in Madrid], which I completed in 2011, has over the years made it possible to spawn a new generation of archival researchers. However finding work as a film researcher is no easy task. In my opinion there still isn’t a long-standing tradition of hiring such profiles to develop projects, so it becomes fundamental to be very self-demanding and anticipate the needs of directors or producers to ensure perfect results.

From pre-production to post-production stages, you have worked as a historian and film researcher on many projects. What have been your favourite ones up until now?

One of the projects I have most enjoyed has been the documentary: Nostromo: David Lean’s impossible dream. Searching for archive images for the film allowed me to dive into the life of one of cinematic history’s greatest film directors. I have also thoroughly enjoyed preparing the TV programme I went to EGB, a quiz that celebrates Spanish 1980s cartoons, films and TV series with nostalgia.

As a young archive researcher familiar with new technologies and new research means, do you have any tips to share?

I am quite “classical” when it comes to developing my work. All I need is a laptop, telephone, an Internet connection and a quiet spot where I can concentrate. I think imagination is our best tool, because that’s what allows us to come up with solutions. The key is to be able to focus on where you might find what you’re looking for.

You have a passion for theatre. Have you ever combined it with your work as an archive researcher?

Absolutely. I am currently working as a production director and costume designer for Buffalo, a theatre show coming up in Madrid in April. I have been working together with the set’s playwrights right from the start, putting together specialized theme dossiers and solving questions throughout the design of the plot. I am now working on costumes and continue to coordinate all production tasks. Planning, organizing and being very attentive to detail are all core skills of any archival researcher. These skills allow me to carry out all that work.

Can you give us a sneak peek into a project you are currently working on?

I’m currently working as a consultant for the Felipe González Foundation. I am also working on the documentary research for a temporary art exhibition to be inaugurated in November, and starting the documentation for a documentary on punk music in Madrid. I learn more everyday with each new horizon that is suggested to me: And I love it.

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