School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Image of Gianluca Sergi

Gianluca Sergi

Associate Professor of Film Studies, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

My interest in Film and TV and other screen industries stems from an early fascination with cinema while growing up in Italy, where I was born in Milan on 5 June 1964. I was one of the co-founders (at age 13) of a film club for young people in my home town that had over 300 members and later became the youngest member of the managerial team running the senior film society (with over 700 members).

I worked in a variety of media outlets (especially radio where I co-produced and presented a live show for two years. I also worked in a local TV stations and print magazine). After being awarded two scholarships (one from local government for sustenance, the other from the EU for my fees) I decided to move to the UK to study Film and Literature at University (Warwick). During that time I also worked part-time on several productions, including a professional show for children that aired on Channel 4.

Following an MA in Mass Communication (Leicester) I wrote a PhD in film (on film sound, and Dolby in particular) under the supervision of Prof. Richard Maltby and Prof. Steve Neale (Sheffield Hallam). The research I carried out as part of my thesis allowed me to build a network of contacts with leading industry professionals and executives in some of Hollywood's leading companies, including Lucasfilm, Pixar, Fox, Dolby amongst others. This in turn helped me develop a keen interest in filmmakers and filmmaking practices. This interest, later extended and developed into studios practices and labour practices, as well as filmmaking, now forms the cornerstone of my current and future research. I have published two books in this area as well as a major industry report on studios practices.

I was the founder of the Institute for Screen Industries Research at the University of Nottingham in Sept. 2011 and continue to serve as its director today.

Expertise Summary

I am a leading industry expert and scholar in the film and screen industries, combining a unique blend of experience consulting for world leading film and TV organisations (Lucasfilm/Disney, Fox, Sony, the Oscars), cutting edge research and impact track record (four books, a 4* ICS for REF2021), and innovative curriculum development and delivery (UG/PG, Executive Education, CPD and short courses).

I provide unparalleled experience consulting and advising the film industry's leading organisations and am the first academic ever to be invited to address the agenda setting address to the Board of Governors (e.g., Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Kathleen Kennedy, etc.) of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (the Oscars) on future strategic directions for the Academy and its 7,000+ members.

Consultant for leading Hollywood studios and production companies in US, UK, Germany, and China, with proven track record on industry impact. Completed projects include:

  • Optimisation of product development and deployment - the role of film in Hollywood studios value chain - for Sony Studios, Los Angeles),
  • Development of new revenue generating initiatives for leading production companies - for Lucasfilm/Disney, San Francisco& Los Angeles)
  • Talent development and management in the creative industry sector - for one of China's leading online video subscription services Youku-Tudou, part of the Alibaba group, Shanghai/Beijing)
  • Government initiatives to support the creative industries at regional, national, and international level (for Nottingham City Council and the East Midlands region)

Teaching Summary

Over 25 years of leadership in developing programmes and delivering courses on the film and screen industries in Higher Education at all levels, from BA and MA programmes to Executive Education and… read more

Research Summary

Following a series of high profile projects with leading organisations and productions companies/studios in Hollywood, I am currently working on a new book with director and sound designer Gary… read more

Selected Publications

Over 25 years of leadership in developing programmes and delivering courses on the film and screen industries in Higher Education at all levels, from BA and MA programmes to Executive Education and short course in the US, UK, and China.

  • Launched first ever internship and mentoring partnership between a major Hollywood studio and a UK HEI in 2011 (ongoing, with Disney studios). It remains the only partnership of this kind in the UK.
  • I am the Director of Work-Related Learning in the School of Cultures, Languages and Areas Studies at the University of Nottingham overseeing the relationship between education and industry partnerships for 140 staff and over 1,600 students.
  • Supervised to conclusion over 15 PhD students on topics ranging from film and TV industry practices in leading and emerging nations (US, UK, China, Nigeria, New Zealand, etc.) to marketing and distribution strategies for studios and production companies.
  • Winner of a 'Student Oscar' as 'Best academic to prepare students for their future'. Selected by students as one of the '100 heroes' of the University of Nottingham during the celebrations for the Student Union's 100 years ('100 heroes for 100 Years').

Current Research

Following a series of high profile projects with leading organisations and productions companies/studios in Hollywood, I am currently working on a new book with director and sound designer Gary Rydstrom.

The book, titled The Endless End of Cinema: A History of Crisis and Survival in Hollywood (Bloomsbury, 2022) looks at the key crises that have marked the development of Hollywood cinema over the decades, identifying what lessons can be learned from them that may help address present and future challenges.

Gary (a 7-time Oscar winner) and I share a belief that closer collaboration between film professionals and academics can potentially bring mutual benefits and enrich and improve the experience of making movies, both creatively and financially, and studying/researching them in all their aspects.

I regularly deliver keynote presentations on innovation in the film sector at world's leading companies (BBC, Dolby, Disney, etc.), my work has also been featured in several media outlets (e.g. profile of my work in Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/05/what-is-a-movie-netflix-streaming-hollywood-oscars)

Past Research

My past work in terms of general research and publications has mostly focussed on issues concerning filmmaking and production practices, industrial relations in Hollywood cinema,and film sound. These interests continue to inform my present and planned future work, with particular focus of course on fostering better and more effective dialogue between industry and academia.

Most recently, I have completed two pieces on the role that unions (guilds) played in shaping the arrival of sound in Hollywood in the late 1920s and 1930s. This allowed me to bring together all my major research interests in and around the film industry (filmmaking practices, sound, innovation and production cultures).

I have published 3 monographs, a book-length industry report (all on various aspects of the film industry, from production to studios operations) - with a fourth one due for publication in 2022 - and a number of articles and book chapters on sound, filmmaking practices and other related topics.

Highlights include:

  • Founder and Director of one of the UK's leading HE centres for the study of the screen industries (The Institute for Screen Industries Research at the University of Nottingham (2011-present).
  • Author of four books - including a forthcoming (for Bloomsbury) with seven-time Oscar winner Gary Rydstrom of Lucasfilm/Pixar/Disney, on a history of the crises that have shaped Hollywood as an industry - as well as a several industry papers articles and book chapters.
  • Led and delivered an impact case study for REF 2021 (rated by the University of Nottingham's internal review panel as 4*) that demonstrated impact of my research on world leading film industry companies and organisations in Hollywood (Disney, the Academy/Oscars)
  • Currently leading (as PI in the leading organisation, University of Nottingham) a consortium to bid to Europe's Horizon scheme call 'to improve the EU Film sector's competitiveness in the global screen industries' (2022).
  • Expert reviewer for EU funding bid applications in the creative industries sector.

Future Research

The focus of future research will continue to be on aspects of the film and television industry that are likely to assist: i. the growth and well-being of the film industry and its workforce at all levels and in all capacities, II. the training and upskilling of future industry professionals as well as film scholars, and iii. the appreciation and preservation of film as a key cultural, social and art form.

  • SERGI, G., 2017. Sound standings: a brief history of the impact of labor and professional representation on the place of early sound workers in the industry 
(1927-1937). In: MERA, SADOFF & WINTERS, ed., The Routledge Companion to Screen Music and Sound Routledge. (In Press.)
  • SERGI, G., 2016. Organising Sound: labour organisations and power struggles that helped define music and sound in Hollywood. In: LIZ GREEN & DANIJELA KULEZIC-WILSON, ed., The Integrated Soundtrack: Sound Design and Music in Contemporary Film Palgrave. (In Press.)
  • SERGI, G. and STRINGER, J., 2013. Creativity across Borders: China, The United Kingdom and New Forms of Collaboration between Media Practitioners and Academics at the Institute for Screen Institute Research. In: LI BENQIAN, ed., Report on International Competitiveness of Chinese Media 2013 Pishu, China. 394-408
  • LOVELL, A. and SERGI, G., 2009. Cinema Entertainment: essays on art, films and filmmakers McGraw-Hill/OUP.
  • SERGI, G., 2006. In Defence of vulgarity: The Place of sound effects in the cinema in Scope: An Online Journal of Film Studies, issue 5 University of Nottingham. Available at: <http://www.scope.nottingham.ac.uk/article.php?issue=5&id=129>
  • SERGI, G., 2006. Tales of the Silent Blast: Star Wars and Sound (reprint). In: GRAINGE, P., JANCOVICH, M. and MONTEITH, S., eds., Film Histories Edinburgh University Press.
  • SERGI, G., 2006. A Cry in the Dark (reprint). In: BENNETT, P., HICKMAN, A. and WALL, P., eds., Film Studies: The Essential Resource Routledge.
  • LOVELL, A. and SERGI, G., 2005. Making films in contemporary Hollywood London: Hodder Arnold.
  • SERGI, G., 2004. The Dolby era : film sound in contemporary Hollywood Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • SERGI, G., 2003. Blockbusting sound: the case of <i>The Fugitive</i>. In: STRINGER, J.E., ed., Movie Blockbusters London: Routledge. 141-152
  • SERGI, G., 2002. The Sonic Playground: Hollywood Cinema and its Listeners. In: STOKES, M. and MALTBY, R., eds., Hollywood spectatorship: changing perceptions of cinema audiences London: British Film Institute. 121-131
  • SERGI, G., 2002. The Use of the Voice in Film. In: The Visible Man Forum, Udine.
  • SERGI, G., 2002. A Cry in the Dark: the Role of Post-Classical Hollywood Film Sound (reprint). In: , ed., Film Cultures Reader London and New York, Routledge.
  • SERGI, G., 1999. Mikes and the Sound Gang. In: KRAMER, P. and LOVELL, A., eds., Screen Acting as Art and Performance Routledge.
  • SERGI, G., 1998. Tales of the Silent Blast: Star Wars and Sound Journal of Popular Film & Television. 26(1), 12-22 (In Press.)

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