Resources for Film and Television Research

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, shown in San Francisco’s Union Square.
Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0
image by Steve Rhodes from flickr, 2010.

About this Guide

This guide provides students with recommended resources for conducting research on topics related to Film and Television. Use the tabs above to navigate through the pages of the guide.

Paper Writing Assistance

About SBCC’s Writing Center
The SBCC Learning Resource Center Writing Tools Online

Need More Help?

Have a question? Stop by the Reference Desk, or contact a librarian by phone, email, or chat for more help.

Contact Us

Library Tutorials

Interested in learning more about the library on your own? Explore the library’s online tutorials.

Online Reference Books

Reference books are a good place to begin your research. When accessing these resources from off campus, you will be prompted to enter your Pipeline username and password:

Topic Pages from Credo Reference
Explore the topic pages listed below or try searching other keywords in Credo Reference:

Print Reference Books

These print resources are available in the Luria Library Reference section:

  • History of American Cinema — 791.430973 H295h
  • The Oxford Handbook of Film and Media Studies — R 791.43 K81o 2008
  • Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film — R 791.4303 G761s
  • The Complete Film Dictionary — R 791.43 K82c


Search the library catalog (books+) for books on your topic. The library’s collection includes both print books and online ebooks.

Watch this 3-minute video for a demonstration of how to use the library catalog to find books:


Keywords are the words you type into a search box to search for information on your topic. The words you use to describe your topic may be different from the words used by the library catalog and databases. For example, the catalog often uses the term “motion picture” instead of “film” or “movie.” Some other terms related to film include:

    film noir and criticism
    film design
    film genres
    film style
    mise en scene
    motion pictures and style
    motion pictures and gender
    motion pictures setting and scenery
    motion picture directors
    scorsese and criticism
    hollywood and motion pictures and history
    documentary films history and criticism

If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing the best keywords to use in your search.

Film Topics

Books are arranged on the library shelves by call number. A book’s call number is like the address for the book on the shelf. The beginning of the call number corresponds to the subject of the book. This infographic shows the call numbers for some common film topics:

Motion Pictures/Film 791.43 Directing 791.4302 Acting 791.43028 Film History 791.4309 Foreign Films 791.43094-791.43096 Genres 791.436 Film Adaptations 791.437 Screenplays 791.4372


Articles from periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) often provide current information and scholarly research on a topic. To find articles on topics related to Film and Television, search the following databases:

  • Academic Search Complete: Provides full text for more than 8,500 periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals), including full text for nearly 7,300 peer-reviewed titles, in all subject areas. The database includes PDF content going back as far as 1887. Searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,400 journals. Watch the 5-minute video “How to Search for Articles in Luria Library Databases: Academic Search Complete” for help using this database.
  • JSTOR: Contains articles from hundreds of scholarly journals covering a wide range of subjects in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences, including the journal Film Quarterly.
  • Project MUSE: Provides complete, full-text versions of scholarly journals in subject areas such as: ethnic studies; art and architecture; literature; education; film; theatre and performing arts; and more. Contains over 525 journals, 335 of which are full text. A good source of scholarly articles for advanced literary criticism.
  • Communication and Mass Media Complete: Provides full-text articles from over 450 journals in communication, mass media, and other closely-related fields of study.
  • Newspaper Source Plus: Beyond newspapers, this resource provides more than 857,000 full text television and radio news transcripts.
  • MasterFILE Complete: Includes a number of trade publications about and for the film and television industry, including Variety, Broadcasting & Cable, Hollywood Reporter, and Television Week.


Finding good websites for college research can be difficult and time-consuming. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources to evaluate the websites you find on your own.

Film and Television Catalogs

  • American Film Institute: Among other things, AFI “preserves the legacy of America’s film heritage through the AFI Archive… and the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, an authoritative record of American films from 1893 to the present.”
  • Box Office Mojo: This website, operated by IMDb, provides reporting data for box office earnings, statistics, and rankings for films in U.S. and international markets.
  • The Internet Movie Database: IMDb describes itself as “the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content.”
  • UCLA Film and Television Archive: “The UCLA Film & Television Archive is the second largest moving image archive in the United States after the Library of Congress, and the world’s largest university-based media archive.”

Professional Organizations

How to Cite

MLA citation style is most typically used when writing papers in the liberal arts or humanities. Double check with your professor about which citation style is required for your assignments.

MLA Citation Guidelines