School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

Paul McDonald

Professor of Cinema and Media Industries, Faculty of Arts



I joined the Department of Culture, Film and Media in September 2011 as Professor of Cinema and Media Industries. Previously I was Professor of Cinema at the University of Portsmouth, where I was Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, and held earlier appointments at Roehampton University, South Bank University, and the University of Salford. My first degree is in Film and Drama (Major) with Philosophy (Minor) from the University of Reading and I completed my PhD in Film Studies at the University of Warwick.

Before commencing my academic career, I trained as a professional actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, after which I was employed in animated film production and at a photography studio in London, and then worked at the National Film Theatre.

Most recent publications:

Author Hollywood Stardom. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

Joint editor with Justin Smith for the 'Channel 4 and British Film Culture' issue of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 33 (3), 2013.

Curator 'Mapping Media Industry Studies' week on In Media Res, 27-31 May 2013.

Editor 'In Focus: Media Industries Studies' Cinema Journal 52 (2), pp. 145-98, 2013.

Selected contributions to the academic and research community:

A founding member of the Editorial Collective for Media Industries, the online journal of media industries research.

Founder and co-chair of the Media Industries Scholarly Interest Group of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies

Founder and coordinator of the Screen Industries Work Group for the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies

Member of the AHRC Strategic Reviewers Group

Member of the AHRC Peer Review College

Member of the AHRC Knowledge Exchange College

Trustee of the British Universities Film and Video Council

Editorial Board member Creative Industries

Editorial Board member Transnational Cinemas

Editorial Board member Celebrity Studies

Expertise Summary

My current research is focused in five areas:

1) Media piracy

2) Digital distribution of film and television

3) Commercial and legal dynamics of conglomerate Hollywood

4) Historiography of screen media industries

5) Critical perspectives in media industries research

I am interested in supervising research students in the following areas:

1) Hollywood film and television industries in historical and contemporary contexts

2) Business, technologies and consumption of individualized and domestic screen media (e.g. streaming or downloading services for catch-up TV, pay-per-view, subscription TV, electronic sell-through/download-to-own, video-on-demand, and video file sharing)

3) Film distribution and marketing

4) Informal and illegal channels for film and television distribution

5) Film industries in Britain

6) Histories of media industries

7) Film stardom and performance

Teaching Summary

Current Teaching:

V91TEC Communication and Technology

W54303 Markets and Regulation

V94023 Cultural Industries

V94CSP Cultural Studies and Entrepreneurship Research Project

Research Summary

Currently writing a chapter surveying the history of Hollywood's struggles to combat film, video and online piracy for the collection Hollywood and the Law, forthcoming 2014, which I'm co-editing… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

Currently writing a chapter surveying the history of Hollywood's struggles to combat film, video and online piracy for the collection Hollywood and the Law, forthcoming 2014, which I'm co-editing with and Dr Eric Hoyt (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Dr Emily Carman (Chapman University) and Prof. Philip Drake (Edge Hill University). Contributors are exploring the business of film and television in Hollywood from a range of legal perspectives - copyright, trademark, image rights, piracy, antitrust regulation, international trade, censorship, talent contracts, labour and tax.

Co-editor with Professor Michael Curtin (University of California, Santa Barbara), of the International Screen Industries series from BFI Publishing.

Past Research

In 2013-14, I worked with Dr Liz Evans, Juyeon Bao and Sriparna Ray (University of Nottingham) and Emanuelle Santos (University of Warwick) on User Engagements with Online Distribution Services in Brazil, India and Korea, a project run in the second phase of the Connected Viewing Initiative co-ordinated by the Media Industries Project at the Carsey-Wolf Center of the University of California, Santa Barbara, with funding from Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. This research examine the markets for, and user engagements with, services for online film and television distribution in three national contexts.

In 2011-12, Dr Liz Evans (University of Nottingham) and I ran the project Connected Entertainment UK: Behaviour, Taste, Experience, and Value, part of the Connected Viewing Initiative hosted by the Media Industries Project at the Carsey-Wolf Center, University of California, Santa Barbara, funded by Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. The research mapped the current market in the UK for online platforms delivering catch-up TV, subscription-TV, pay-per-view rentals, electronic sell-through and video file sharing services, and examined patterns of user interaction with those services through four themes - behaviour, taste, experience and value.

Between 2010 and 2014, I worked with Dr Justin Smith (University of Portsmouth) as co-investigator for the four-year AHRC funded project Channel Four and British Film Culture. The project examined C4's role as a leading producer-distributor of original films and as an innovative and occasionally challenging programmer-exhibitor of film. A key outcome from the project was the Channel 4 Press Packs 1982-2002 database (password required), produced in collaboration with the British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC), giving online full text access to 80,000 pages in the 1,100 weekly Press Information Packs issued by C4 in the channel's first two decades.

Integrating the traditions of star studies and media industry studies, my book Hollywood Stardom (2013) interrogates stardom as a source of capital in conglomerate Hollywood. Initially, chapters advance a fresh perspective on the critical analysis of stardom defined as the 'symbolic commerce of stardom', displacing the familiar 'star image' mode of analysis with the conceptualization of the star-as-brand. Later chapters then examine the structural workings of the post-studio star system, the paradoxical economics of stardom, the dual aspects of star performance as both narrative and spectacle, and the anti-economics of 'prestige stardom'.

In the book Video and DVD Industries (2007) I provided the first major study of the home entertainment business in the digital age, exploring the technological development of DVD and hi-definition video formats, the growth of the DVD market, Hollywood's early involvement in online delivery, and the technical, legal and enforcement measures taken to protect against industrialized video piracy.

With Professor Janet Wasko (University of Oregon), I co-edited The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry (2008) which brought together contributions from authors exploring the changing contours of the Hollywood film business.

My research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), British Academy, and the Leverhulme Trust.

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