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I am a graduate of the University of Edinburgh where I completed an MA (First Class Hons.) in Sociology in 1986 and a PhD thesis, ‘Making Movies: The Structuring of Creativity in Contemporary British Cinema’ in 1990.
My first job on leaving Edinburgh was as Research Officer at the British Film Institute in London where I worked between 1990 and 1995. This was followed by eight years in the School of English at the University Exeter where I established and directed the Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture, a public museum and research collection including some 50,000 books and artefacts.
In February 2004 I moved to the University of Auckland in New Zealand as Professor of Film and Head of the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies, where I remained until arriving at York in January 2009.
I have designed and taught a wider range of courses at all levels, from stage one BA to Masters including introductory courses on film studies to courses on Hollywood, British, New Zealand, European and Silent Cinema. At Exeter I established two new Masters programmes and am now taking a key role in curriculum development at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at York.
I currently convene modules at various levels on the BSc in Film and Television Production including the stage one module 'Cinema: History and Analysis', the stage two module The Discipline of Genre and a stage three option on ‘The History of Cinematography’. On the administration side, I am Deputy Head of Department and lead on Learning and Teaching issues.
My research has been primarily in the areas of British, Scottish and New Zealand cinema and culture, with specific interests in the film-making process, the industrial structures and functioning of national cinemas, the art and craft of cinematography and the relationship between cultural expression and the question of the national.
I have written seven books: Creativity and Constraint in the British Film Industry (Macmillan, 1991), The British Cinematographer (BFI, 1996), Screening Scotland (BFI, 2000), Contemporary Scottish Fictions (Edinburgh University Press, 2004), Shot in New Zealand: The Art and Craft of the Kiwi Cinematographer (Random House, 2007), A Coming of Age: 30 Years of New Zealand Cinema (Random House, 2008) – co-written with Duncan Stuart, and Educating Film-Makers: Past, Present and Future (Intellect, 2014) – co-written with Rod Stoneman. I have also edited or co-edited a further ten collections, including The Cinema of Small Nations (Edinburgh University Press, 2007) – with Mette Hjort, and have contributed numerous book chapters, journal articles and reviews.
I am currently Principle Investigator on a three-year AHRC-funded project: Transformation and Tradition in Sixties British Cinema: Production Cultures, Cross Media Relations and National Branding. This is a collaboration with the University of East Anglia and the project team comprises me, Dr Melanie Williams (Co-I, UEA), Dr Laura Mayne, (Postdoctoral Research Associate, York) and Dr Richard Farmer (Postdoctoral Research Associate, UEA). The British Film Institute is also involved as Project Partner.
I am also currently the co-principal editor of the Journal of the British Cinema and Television, published by Edinburgh University Press, and am a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Media Practice, published by Taylor and Francis, and Studies in Australasian Cinema, published by Intellect, and a member of the editorial advisory board of the International Journal of Scottish Literature, an on-line journal published by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies.
I have supervised more than twenty PhD theses and over thirty Masters Theses and Dissertations on a wide range of film and television related topics.
I am currently supervising three PhD students working on film related topics in the department of Theatre, Film and Television.
Involvement with a range of outside film-related bodies and organisations has also been an important part of my work as an academic.
I have served as Vice Chair and then Chair of the South West Media Development Agency, as a board member of South West Screen, as a trustee of the South West Film and Television Archive and as a member of the Scottish Screen Lottery Panel.
In New Zealand I served on the Creative and Performing Arts Panel in the 2006 Performance Based Research Funding (PBRF), their version of the RAE.
Within the academic context I am currently a member of the Peer Review College for the Arts and Humanities Research Council