My research concentrates on contemporary film, television and media culture. I have written extensively on branding and promotion in the media industries, and have also published on nostalgia and media memory. My co-authored book with Catherine Johnson, Promotional Screen Industries (Routledge, 2015), draws together extensive fieldwork with TV promotion specialists, movie trailer houses, digital design companies and advertising agencies that compete and collaborate in the fast-moving world of promotional screen work.
Currently, I am Director of the AHRC Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C), which was ranked first in the AHRC's national competition in 2018. M4C brings together eight leading universities across the Midlands to support the professional and personal development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers.
Within my discipline, I am a member of the Institute for Screen Industries Research (ISIR) at the University of Nottingham and have served on the editorial boards of Cinema Journal, Screen, and Memory Studies. My recent publications include (see publication tab for full list):
PhD supervision: I have supervised 15 PhD students to completion and am currently co-supervising doctoral candidates working on subjects ranging from contemporary movie trailers and the creative labour of media planning, to transnational television drama and nostalgia and Chinese film. I would be happy to supervise PhD students who would like to work on the cultural/screen industries, promotion, marketing and branding, Hollywood entertainment, nostalgia and memory, or on general topics relating to contemporary film and television that take a media industries approach.
Professional Service: As Director of the AHRC Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership ((M4C), I have overall responsibility for the strategic and operational delivery of M4C, driving and communicating the Consortium's research and training vision, working closely with Site Directors and governance groups, and liaising with multiple stakeholders, including M4C's wide range of non-HEI partners. I co-chaired the national AHRC DTP/CDT Directors Group in 2017-2018 and served as Director of M4C's predecessor, Midlands3Cities, from 2016. I have also been a member of the AHRC Peer Review College since 2007,
In recent years, I have taught modules including Understanding the Cultural Industries, Film History, The New Hollywood, and Researching Culture, Film and Media. In designing Understanding the… read more
My recent research explores the promotional screen industries. This emerged from an AHRC 'Beyond Text' workshop on 'ephemeral media' (2009) that examined the role of promotional media such as logos,… read more
In recent years, I have taught modules including Understanding the Cultural Industries, Film History, The New Hollywood, and Researching Culture, Film and Media. In designing Understanding the Cultural Industries, I have been keen for students to reflect on the complex workings of the film and television industry: from the role of advertising and the rise of market research to issues surrounding copyright, media convergence and creative labour. This has culminated in students devising and pitching their own 'transmedia franchise,' a group project designed to provide hands-on experience of the dynamics and challenges of work in the media industries. This model of theoretical and applied learning, tapping the creativity of students, has been extremely rewarding and has produced some highly innovative film and TV ideas.
My recent research explores the promotional screen industries. This emerged from an AHRC 'Beyond Text' workshop on 'ephemeral media' (2009) that examined the role of promotional media such as logos, promos, idents and trailers and included plenaries by John Caldwell, Barbara Klinger, William Uricchio, Jon Dovey, Hugh Hancock, Rik Lander, Victoria Jaye and Charlie Mawer. The workshop led to a long-standing collaboration with the UK's leading broadcast design company Red Bee Media, and to an AHRC Follow-On Fund project (with Catherine Johnson) titled 'TV and Digital Promotion: Agile Strategies for a New Media Ecology.' This project explored how companies specializing in brand communication and promotional design are developing strategies to 'connect viewers to content' in a multiplatform world. Our work with Red Bee formed the basis of an REF2014 impact case study which became an AHRC impact case study (see future research for more details)
I have published a book with Cathy Johnson based on this research titled Promotional Screen Industries (Routledge, 2015). In beginning to think about why we might study logos, channel idents and emerging forms of branded entertainment, see the link below for a YouTube video:
'Why study television idents?'
Developing interests in the promotional screen industries, my ongoing research investigates intermediaries and agencies specializing in video marketing. This has informed workshops and consultancy with local SMEs on 'spreadable marketing' as part of the University of Nottingham's award-winning 'Arts into Business' programme. These workshops have been a featured 'success story' for the National Centre for Universities and Business.
For reflections on media industry method, based on work with Red Bee Media, see the video Interviewing Media Professionals (part of an event hosted by the postgraduate-led 'Industrial Approaches to Media Network')
For recent blogs on promotional and videographic practice, see contributions in Antenna on BBCiPlayer and in Flow on University video paratexts