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Film Studios: Infrastructure, Culture, Innovation in Britain, France, Germany and Italy, 1930-60.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - STUDIOTEC (Film Studios: Infrastructure, Culture, Innovation in Britain, France, Germany and Italy, 1930-60.)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2021-03-01 do 2022-08-31

Context

Between 1930 and 1960, the European film industry flourished in Britain, France, Germany and Italy. However, a knowledge gap exists on the factors that affected the sector due to war circumstances and post-war events, which included political changes, the labour movement, and the introduction of new technologies. The EU funded STUDIOTEC project suggests a new methodology based on the comparison of empirical data and transnational processes. The project will study film studios as both artistic and entrepreneurial structures and will evaluate how the transnational movement affected creative acts. The research will be based on interconnected issues including the studio’s infrastructures, artistic creativity, the role of politics, the economy and labour relations.

Objective

This project investigates film studios across four major European production sites: Britain, France, Germany and Italy, 1930-60. During these years studios were transformed as they responded to challenges including wartime disruptions, post-war fragmentation, movement of labour and the introduction of new technologies. While these countries have attracted their own historical literatures, this project proposes for the first time their comparative analysis from the perspective of film studio tectonics, cultures and practices. The project is underpinned by the idea of tectonics as a metaphorical way into understanding the studios’ multiple, stratified, shifting experiences as architectural spaces, diverse working environments and locations for innovation. The study of film studios has been dominated by the centralized Hollywood ‘system’, and local studio histories are typified by discrete, linear and undertheorized approaches. This project proposes a more dynamic materialist methodology, linking empirical data with comparative, transnational developments which occurred during a major period of change within the four key production sites. Using historical research and a range of spatial analysis, 3D and VR tools, the project will create new understandings of how the collaborative and material environments of studio spaces and technologies shaped film production and cultures.
Year 1: Research agendas, timelines and working practices were established following successful recruitment of four excellent PDRs working on the different countries: Richard Farmer, Eleanor Halsall, Morgan Lefeuvre and Carla Mereu Keating. Intellectual aims and initial research priorities and methods were established by the PI in consultation with the Team Members. The PI established a regular set of fortnightly meetings for the entire team, and the PDRs met in between those meetings with their respective country specialist on the team. During lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic this was an essential means of keeping the team connected. The team also established a regular set of team seminars concentrating on particular key themes. These meetings were very useful in creating opportunities for collaborative work as well as applying research undertaken to the project’s themes. The project’s website was established and blog posts by team members on a range of key issues are published monthly. Most research undertaken has been from online sources (mainly due to the impact of Covid 19 restricting travel), but researchers are now visiting archives to conduct primary research as travel restrictions are lifted. The database profile was set up as using Zotero to log references shared by the whole team. An assessment of available photographic and other visual sources was also undertaken which is generating much new knowledge about the studios. Workshop 1: Studio Architectures: Vistas and Visions was held as a virtual event in September 2020 when all team members delivered working papers for discussion and with invited external academics as respondents. This event was a significant milestone since it provided an opportunity for extensive debate of Studio Architectures, one of the project’s major themes, as well as establishing a strategic context for the team’s research that cover sa comprehensive geographical reach and is targeted to trace written and visual sources. Workshop 2: focussed on the project's VR work, following recruitment of researcher Amy Stone.

Year 2: The Team Members continued to conduct primary research, produce articles and blogs for the project website. Three team members’ articles were accepted for publication and one team member (Morgan Lefeuvre) had a book published based on her PhD research on French film studios. The team had panels accepted to deliver papers to two online conferences: The Society for Cinema and Media Studies in March 2021, and the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies’ conference in April 2021. The researcher working on VR was successfully recruited (Amy Stone), and has been developing the project's VR studio experience based on the research so far generated. Workshop 2: focussed on the project's VR work and featured external experts and presentations on the project's VR and 3D work.

Year 3: A contract was signed for a team co-authored book which will be submitted at the end of the project containing the main results. A number of results have so far been achieved, including the identification of previously unknown levels of transnational collaboration between film industries and studios, as well as continuities in methods and personnel during key periods. The visual information so far gathered, combined with the VR work in development, advances a visual and spatial understanding of the studios' architectures and physical locations. The team has produced a number of publications which chart the new directions for studio studies represented by the project as a whole. Conference papers and research seminars have disseminated the results so far. Archives have been visited to obtain key information in Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
Progress is being made according to the project's milestones and schedule. Key areas of work are being investigated and the project's comparative design is starting to yield good results, creating a unique set of comparators of experience across the studios in the four countries under investigation. Work relating to visualisations and using 3-D models will enhance and add new perspectives on the historical research being undertaken by the core team. For the project's remaining years expected results are: addition of new perspectives generated from archival research; publication of journal articles and other outputs; dissemination of results at seminars, conferences and events; organisation of the project's workshops and conference; exploration of exhibition potential of material generated by the project; advancing work on VR and 3-D modelling to create new contexts for their investigation, evaluation and analysis.
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