Welcome to Media Burn

The Media Burn Independent Video Archive collects more than 6,000 documentary videotapes produced by independent videographers outside of corporate contexts. The tapes chronicle four decades of 20th and 21st century life, including politics, arts and culture, community life, urban issues, ethnic identities, and more. Media Burn recognizes the power of documentary to change the way we understand the world around us. That's why it is our mission to preserve our shared cultural history on analog videotape and make it available for generations to come.


Recent Media Burn Archive blogs

  • “I won’t pay taxes for killing…”

    “I won’t pay taxes for killing…”

    As April 15 approaches, some people will write their checks feeling as if the money they pay will be spent by the government to pay for things that directly contradict their beliefs. This tax week’s videos were originally part of THE 90’s TV series, seen on TV in 1991 and 1992. The first segment is about a Massachusetts couple who file their tax returns, but give the money to charities—for disabled veterans and for local needs. The husband is serving … Continue reading

  • Frankie Knuckles brought a Chicago sound to the world

    Frankie Knuckles brought a Chicago sound to the world

    A pioneering legend of Chicago house music has died. Here’s a short excerpt from Greg Kot’s excellent obituary in the Chicago Tribune: Frankie Knuckles, who died Monday at age 59 in Chicago, was not just the “godfather” of Chicago house music. He was a pioneer in the way he cultivated a culture, a sound and a community around dance music that decades later encompasses the world. Now DJs such as Skrillex, Tiesto, Deadmau5 and Afrojack can fill stadiums internationally as … Continue reading


newest videos

  • Spring training in the rain

    Spring training in the rain

    Today, we take you to Florida 1978, where Bill Veeck battled the rain to keep the White Sox working out during spring training. The video also includes Veeck’s reflections on spring training from 1985, shortly before his death. Watch Tom Weinberg’s full doc, Inside Spring Training. Congratulations to Steve James on his retrospective at the 2014 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC. The April 3-6 program will allow audiences to revisit some of his most widely admired titles … Continue reading

  • Before the Bubble Burst: Jamie Fenton, Game Designer, 1982

    Before the Bubble Burst: Jamie Fenton, Game Designer, 1982

    When a group of independent video makers set out to document current tech trends for an ill-fated television show called Wired In, they hardly suspected they were capturing an industry poised on the edge of cataclysmic change. Like many young tech industries, video games were hot, and everyone wanted to get in on the action, but as more and more companies jumped in, often with subpar products, the bubble just grew and grew. In 1982, when this footage was shot, … Continue reading

  • How they dye the Chicago River green

    How they dye the Chicago River green

    In Chicago, it has been a tradition since the first Mayor Daley to dye the Chicago River green for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. In 1992, videomaker Patrick Creadon, shooting for The 90′s, went downtown at 2:30am to cover the preparation for the parade and to talk with the guys from Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union #110 about this tradition. The footage didn’t make it on the show, but 20 years later, we pulled it out of the archive and … Continue reading

  • In Memory of Harold Ramis (1944–2014)

    In Memory of Harold Ramis (1944–2014)

    Harold Ramis died last week after several courageous years fighting a debilitating disease. I first met Harold in the ’70s, and he always had as positive an outlook as anyone I’ve ever met. Through all his successes, he remained unimpressed with himself, and he would do anything to help those in need, even strangers. He was such a sweet guy, and was taken far too early. In memory of Harold, we’d like to share a few of the rare bits … Continue reading

  • And the Academy Award does not go to…

    And the Academy Award does not go to…

    Spielberg: “I got beaten out by Fellini!” We hope you enjoy a re-visit of one of our classics, in honor of the upcoming Academy Awards. Steven Spielberg expected to be a big winner at the 1976 Academy Awards. TVTV was in the room documenting his reaction when he got the news that, despite dominating the box office that year with Jaws, he was not nominated for Best Director. Here’s an inside look at the young director like you’ve never seen … Continue reading

  • [Labor History Workshop: Fred Thompson #2]

    [Labor History Workshop: Fred Thompson #2]

    An organizing workshop led by activist Staughton Lynd at Indiana University Northwest. This tape features Fred Thompson, labor organizer and IWW leader, addressing a group of (mostly) United Steel Workers union members about the future of unions and how to create positive change. Continue reading

  • International Video Letters

    International Video Letters

    This tape presents some of the Santa Cruz political / feminist groups speaking at New American Movement Symposium. Continue reading

  • [Film clips about work for Illinois Humanities Council]

    [Film clips about work for Illinois Humanities Council]

    A compilation of clips from films about work assembled by Kartemquin Films, made to be shown at the Illinois State Fair as part of the Illinois Humanities Council booth. Continue reading