Dr. Roderik Smits
Research Associate



I am a Research Associate and Teaching Fellow in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television, where I also obtained my PhD degree. I work with Professor Andrew Higson on various research projects related to screen industries and the wider creative economy. I also teach on the third-year undergraduate course Current Issues in Film and Television and I supervise third-year undergraduate Dissertation Projects.

In terms of my research, I am interested in the role of cultural gatekeepers in film and media industries. In the past four years, I examined the business of film distribution to analyse how gatekeepers such as sales agents and distribution companies exert control over the process of enabling and disabling access to films in international markets, well beyond the national or domestic markets within which they originate. I am currently developing a new research project to explore how new forms of cultural gatekeeping create opportunities for a greater diversity of films to secure distribution through online outlets across a spectrum of Video-on-Demand (VOD) platforms, such as YouTube, Amazon, Netflix and MUBI, and therefore for audiences to have greater choice and increased access to a wider range of films.



I am interested in research areas such as the changing nature of media distribution, the role of cultural gatekeepers, the current state of independent cinema, the development of VOD platforms, the perspective of production companies, the film exhibition sector, film and television programming, media distribution policies, and film festivals and markets.

My research approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on debates within Film and Media studies, the Sociology of Culture, and broader theoretical perspectives in Management and Organisation Studies.


Project member of the AHRC-funded research project ‘Beyond the Multiplex: Audiences for Specialised Films in English Regions’, January 2018 – present [link]

Project member of the research project ‘How On-demand Culture is Changing the Business of Films and High-End Television Drama’, Aug. 2016 – July 2017(link).

Project member of the European research project ‘Mediating Cultural Encounters Through European Screens’ (MeCETES), Oct. 2013 – Oct. 2016 (link).

Advisor and contributor to the EU Creative Europe-funded Research project ‘The Circulation of European Films: The Distribution Sector Perspective’, Jan. 2015 – Apr. 2016.

Industry Engagement

I have developed a network of industry connections and have been invited to participate as a speaker and moderator in several industry events organised by Creative Europe (EU), Film Expo South (UK) and the LIGHTS Frankfurt International Film Festival (DE). I have also contributed to a Creative Europe report about film distribution.


Selected publications

R. Smits. Gatekeeping in the Evolving Business of Independent Film Distribution (forthcoming in 2019). Monograph (85,000 words). Under contract with the Palgrave Macmillan book series Global Media Policy and Business.

R. Smits. 2018. Tournaments of Values at the European Film Market. Arts and the Market , 8 (1). (peer-reviewed). (link).

R. Smits, A. Higson, H.D. Jones, J. Mateer, and B. D’Ippolito. 2018. Distributing Films Online. Workshop report. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 15 (2), pp.291-299. (link).

R. Smits. 2017. Film Distribution: A Changing Business. In: J. Wroot and A. Willis (Eds.). DVD, Blu-Ray and Beyond: Navigating Formats and Platforms within Media Consumption. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. (invited) (link)

R. Smits. 2016. Gatekeeping and Networking Arrangements: Dutch Distributors in the Film Distribution Business. Poetics, 58, pp.29-42. (peer-reviewed). (link).

Publications under review

  • R. Smits and E. Nikdel. Beyond the Mainstream: MUBI’s Business Development and Curatorial Approach. Written for a special issue with the journal Studies in European Cinema about ‘Corporations in European Film History’ (7,500 words, under peer-review). (invited)

Other online publications

  • ‘Video-on-Demand and the Myth of Endless Choice' [link] The Conversation, 16 August 2018.
  • ‘Mubi’s Expanding Film Business’ [link] Cineuropa industry research, 2 June 2017. 
  • ‘Film Distribution: Beyond Traditional Release Strategies’ [link] Cineuropa industry research, 30 August 2016. 
  •  ‘UK Film Distribution: What’s Changing?’ (co-written with Huw Jones & Andrew Higson). [link] MeCETES pre-conference report, June 2016.
  • ‘UK Film Distribution: What’s Changing for Producers?’, [link] Cineuropa industry research, 24 March 2016.
  • Several blog posts for MeCETES [link]

External activities


ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association). Special interest group ’Media Industries and Cultural Production’.

BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies. Special interest group ’Screen Industries’.

MECCSA (Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association)

NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies)

Editorial duties

I am a reviewer for Poetics, American Journal of SociologyCreativity and Innovation Management and Bloomsbury Publishing.

Roderik Smits - 26 May 2016

Contact details

Dr Roderik Smits
Research Associate
Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media

Tel: +44(0)1904 325220