University appoints its first Professor of Film and Television

Posted on 24 February 2005

A filmmaker and screenwriter with a background in experimental and art house movies, mainstream screenwriting, and fringe theatre has been appointed as the University of York's inaugural Professor of Film and Television.

Richard Woolley, 57, who is currently Dean of Film and Television at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, will take up the Greg Dyke Chair of Film and Television at York in September, 2005.

The professorship is being funded by a gift to the University from its Chancellor, Greg Dyke.

A former director of the Dutch Film and Television Academy, Richard Woolley will be the founding head of a new Department of Theatre, Film and Television destined to be built on the University's proposed Heslington East expansion.

Richard Woolley has built an international reputation as a filmmaker and screenwriter, but also has strong Yorkshire links. He helped to set up the Yorkshire Film Centre in Leeds in the early 1980s, and later established the Northern School of Film and Television in Leeds with the support of YTV, Channel 4, Sheffield Hallam University and Leeds Metropolitan University.

Establishing the new Department in York is an exciting challenge

Richard Woolley

Richard Woolley said: "Establishing the new Department in York is an exciting challenge. The department will provide a new and special approach to film and television education. Fusion with an existing theatre programme and close links with the Music and Electronics departments will contribute to that uniqueness.

"The fact that I am able to start with a clean slate is especially appealing. I love starting from scratch - it appeals to the creator in me. It's very much like writing a film script."

Greg Dyke said: "With his talents as a film-maker and scriptwriter and his unwavering commitment to education, Richard will ensure that the new Department encourages innovation, creativity and the highest level of technical expertise among its students. I am confident that, under Richard's guidance, the new Department will be enormously successful."

Planned by academics drawn from Electronics, English, Music and Sociology, the new department will offer inter-disciplinary degree programmes combining theoretical and applied skills and an arts/technology mix. The first student intake will be in 2007/8 and the aim is for the Department to have more than 20 staff within eight years.

Notes to editors:

  • Richard Woolley was born in Somerset in 1948 and graduated in History from King's College, London University, before attending the Royal College of Art in London between 1970 and 1973 where he was awarded a Master of Arts in Film and Television.
  • He made his first film - a 60-minute documentary on the position of male homosexuals following the 1967 Reform Act - in 1970. Between 1973 and 1975, he received a DAAD Artist's Award to work in West Berlin, where he made experimental films, including the avant-garde short Inside and Outside, which won acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival.
  • In 1976, he took a break from filmmaking to spend two years working with the Red Ladder Theatre Company as director, writer, musical composer and performer, touring the UK and Europe. Returning to film, he wrote and directed two features: Telling Tales on 16mm, and the 35mm Brothers and Sisters, which was produced by the British Film Institute and screened worldwide at festivals and on television.
  • Between 1981 and 1983, he was Arts Association film officer in Yorkshire where he helped set up the Yorkshire Film Centre in Leeds (a production workshop for filmmakers to develop and realise projects) and produced five films including the black and white feature Destinations.
  • He worked on a number of films for Channel 4, as well as giving a series of short courses at the UK National Film and TV School and lectures at universities and college in the UK and Germany. In 1989 Richard Woolley wrote and directed a children's feature Girl From the South, which, in 1990, won the UNESCO-sponsored Prix du C.I.J.E.F.
  • In parallel, he established, in 1990, the Northern School of Film and Television in Leeds with the support of YTV, Channel 4, Sheffield Hallam University and Leeds Metropolitan University (where it was based). To combine his commitment to education with a continuing involvement in Film and Television, he now concentrated on scriptwriting.
  • From 1992 to 1996, he was director of the Dutch Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam. Whilst there he introduced new areas of study in screenwriting, art direction, producing and interactive media. He expanded the Academy's international contacts in Europe and with the Universities of Miami and New York in the US.
  • In 1997 he became the first Dean of Film and Television at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts with the task of setting up a new Film and Television School. Development of new creative/technical talent, with a high awareness of Hong Kong and Chinese cinematic traditions, has been the hallmark of his work there.
  • The University of York's new Department of Theatre, Film and Television will teach interdisciplinary degrees combining theoretical and applied skills with an arts and technology mix. The new department will aim to produce versatile graduates who understand the potential for the arts in a world of rapidly changing technologies. Courses will integrate theatre, film and television, mixing theoretical study with practical and creative work. There will also be a strong element of entrepreneurship in the programme, aimed at empowering students to initiate and foster projects and operate as freelancers.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 432153