Archive for personal

Are We “Bored” with 3D

Somehow I lost track of the fact that my interview with Craig Lindsey about “3D Boredom” was published in Raleigh’s Indy Weekly. I think Craig asked some really good questions and did an excellent job of paring down a thirty-minute conversation into a good discussion of the issues. I still find myself going back to one or two basic observations about the place of 3D in the entertainment economy:

First, I still see it playing a key role in driving the transition to digital projection in theaters, both in the United States and especially abroad. That’s going to continue for a while, especially as the number of 3D screens in China increases dramatically over the next decade or so.

Second, in terms of consumer interest, I think we’ve reached the stage where consumers and studios alike will be making cost-benefit analyses to determine if the 3D will be worthwhile. For consumers, in particular, they are beginning to ask if the extra $3-4 per ticket worth it. The answer, I’d argue is far more complicated than simply an aesthetic appreciation of 3D or a decision about whether a film “needs” 3D (although those are factors).

In general, though, I’ll say that the conversation with Craig was a fun, engaging, and productive one, and I hope you enjoy his synthesis of it.

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Make any Room Your TV Room

My article, “Make any Room Your TV Room: Digital Delivery and Media Mobility,” has been published by Screen and is now available online. The article addresses the ways in which digital movie delivery tools–whole house DVRs, movie apps, etc–have been promoted. The project began as I became fascinated by a series of advertisements, including Direct TV’s “Robots” and “Love Match” ads, as well as several others that seemed to be promoting the idea of individualized media consumption, even in situations where families are gathered together in the same space (Verizon’s “Shining Star” Christmas ad is a good example of this, but I can’t find it right now). As a result, these ads seem to serve a pedagogical or teaching function, demonstrating for us as viewers how we might integrate these new technologies into our homes and our lives. The research builds upon Lynn Spigel’s fantastic work on 1950s television, which explored how advertisements for TV sets helped to model how families could integrate TV into the home.

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Reflecting on Blue Velvet

As some of my recent posts have suggested, I’m currently in a moment of transition, both in terms of my writing projects and in terms of the blog. For many years, I used the blog to review or reflect upon virtually every film I saw in theaters, but that eventually became too difficult given some of the demands on time. But like many other people, most of my energy the last several years has been directed toward short-form social media such as Twitter and Facebook where, rather than writing more extended entries here. To some extent, that’s out of laziness. I usually have Facebook or Twitter open and can post quickly, often automatically, much to the consternation of my politically conservative friends.

Looking back at my archives, I can see that many of of my posts were short and involved a link with a quick commentary, and these posts often turned out to help build toward larger arguments, so with that in mind, I’ve decided to start writing here again on a more frequent basis. One of the reasons I’m going to try to make a greater effort to write here is due to a nice mention of my blog in this interview with Nick Rombes, author of the fascinating Blue Velvet Project, in which Nick stopped the film Blue Velvet and offered a reflection or observation about each moment in the film. Nick’s discussion of how the project evolved and how it was shaped by critical theory is fascinating and well worth a read.

In writing this post, I realize that I may be making an unfair distinction between productive internet time (the blog) and unproductive time (social media), but formats and genres matter, both in terms of the kinds of expressions and practices they encourage and in terms of their archivability.

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The Next Question

After several years of writing, I’ve just submitted my revised manuscript for second book, On-Demand Culture: Digital Delivery and the Future of Movies. The book is still several months away from publication–there’s copy-editing and page-proofing to be done–but the lion’s share of writing and researching is complete. And quite naturally, completing such as task has me reflecting on my writing process for this book and thinking about what I would like to do next.

To a great extent, these questions are caught up in the personal. I started writing book two just a few weeks after meeting and falling in love with the person who would eventually become my wife, and although she has been supportive of my research, I also have little interest in maintaining my hermetic lifestyle and the writing pace that saw me through the completion of Reinventing Cinema. It’s also a “professional” question, in that I am aware, as many scholars have been discussing lately (I’ll cite many of them soon), that there is some value in writing in formats that are not considered “academic” or that we need more flexible ideas of what counts as a “sellable” piece of academic writing in an era in which academic presses are struggling (as the discussion of the University of Missouri Press illustrates). It’s also “political,” in the broad sense of that term. Writing in academic contexts can often be very insular, and I’d like to branch out from that and to see more scholars do the same.

With that in mind, I’ve decided that I’m going to be taking a little breather before I decide on my next Big Project. I’ve maintained a more or less frenetic writing pace since about 2007, and I think it’s time to recharge a little bit and figure out where I want to focus my writing efforts in the future. That’s not to imply that I am not excited about the work I have done in On-Demand Culture or in the scholarly essays that grew out of it. Instead, I think this might be an opportunity to go back to using the blog as a space for thinking about and testing ideas, for cultivating new approaches and new ways of thinking about the issues and ideas that matter to me. When I finished Reinventing Cinema, I already knew, even as I was sending off the manuscript, where I would be going with my next book, that I wanted to address the distribution “crisis” and especially how it might be affecting independent film. In the process of writing, my focus shifted slightly. I became interested in Redbox kiosks, 3D movies, digital cable advertisements, movie apps (such as the Netflix iPhone app), and other aspects of the movie industry, but they were all tied to the idea of digital delivery and to the underlying concerns behind my original set of questions: What is digital delivery and where is it taking us? What are the implications for the movie industry, for independent artists, and for audiences? The answers, as I hope my book will show, are complex and sometimes contradictory. I don’t have that gnawing question this time, that sense of crisis that propelled my research for the last three years since Reinventing came out.

But in thinking about the process for this book, it was (in some ways) much less “public” than the process for my first book. In some ways, that was a function of time. I chose to cut down on blogging so that I would have more time for bigger projects, such as academic essays and the book. Part of that was the changed nature of the academic blogosphere, and here is where I think that some of my experiences might fit into the (very productive) discussions that I have been following about blogging and academic writing. One of the reasons that I have likely slowed down on blogging is that the format seems less social than it used to be. There are a number of reasons for this shift, and Kathleen Fitzpatrick identifies a few of them. RSS feeds make it so that readers don’t have to go directly to the author’s blog, and perhaps more insidiously, Facebook has a “hovering” effect in that it sucks comments and content in, making them less visible on the blog. Comment spam also became a factor, especially starting around 2004 or so, which also adds a barrier–required registrations, demonstrating that you’re not a robot–to keep readers from commenting on the blog directly.

That being said, I think the blog format–informal and conversational–can foster valuable dialogue and can allow authors and readers to share and develop ideas. I like Kathleen’s idea of blogging as serialized scholarship, and her suggestion that we need better methods for “capturing thought in the idea of being produced.” Some of this process is “captured” in blog archives. I can see, for example, that I wrote quite a bit about Redbox and related phenomena, but many of the helpful responses I received along the way aren’t there. And like her, I’m not ready to suggest that humanities journals no longer serve as “tombstones” for thought, in the same way that Paul Krugman sees happening in economics journals, but I think the play between blogging, academic journals, and books can help to foster healthy discussion about a research topic, whether it’s Keynesian economics, the future of the book, or the ongoing evolution of the movie industry.

Further, as Jason Mittell notes, there is some value in using blogs and other social media formats as a form of pre-publication publicity. Jason had a much more “open-source” process for his second book, in that he posted entire chapters to his blog and Media Commons for peer-to-peer review, inviting feedback from anyone who wished to comment (he also points to Scott Higgins’ ongoing research, which has, so far, only been published on his blog. I’ve posted a few ideas, but rarely have I posted actual content here, but like Jason, I think these forms of “pre-publication” can serve a vital role of engaging with a wier audience, even while having your ideas tested by this more expansive form of readership. Their comments provide me with even more incentive to renew my focus on blogging, especially during a moment of media transition when it feels like so many writers are getting it wrong, as I tried to complain in my bullet-point post mentioning Neal Gabler and Ranall Stross’s recent articles.

Ultimately, these questions about format and informality even speak to the possibility of reconsidering the object that can be monetized by academic presses. Jeff Rice has been addressing the University of Missouri Press’s evolution by suggesting that presses ought to consider selling short articles/essays for a dollar or two via electronic formats, following the “singles” model used by iTunes to great success. I think there is quite a bit of value in that, especially when many journals charge exorbitant rates ($15 and more) for digital copies of single articles. I realize the motivation behind the higher rates–protecting the value of institutional subscriptions–but a bestselling academic “single” might provide academic presses with some additional revenue.

No matter what, I am excited that On-Demand Culture has taken this big step towards completion, not just because it frees me from an intense focus on a single deadline but because it allows me to begin thinking about the “next” question, about what I want I want to write about and even about the formats I’ll be using to engage with others about those ideas.

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Anticipating Batman

Just a quick pointer to an article in The Fayetteville Observer where I discuss the forthcoming Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. I think some of my points come across much more strongly than I intended, but it was fun to talk about the film and hink a little about my own investments in Nolan’s films.

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A Galaxy So Close to Home

Many of my Raleigh readers will likely know that one of our local independent theaters, the Galaxy Theater, a funky suburban multiplex that offers a mix of art house and Bollywood films, may be demolished. Developers have eyed the location–in the heart of downtown Cary–as a potential site for a new shopping complex featuring a high-end grocery store. Making matters worse, the theater appears to be several months behind on its rent, according to the Raleigh News-Observer. The theater owners are working on rallying the community, and like many other locals, I think closing the Galaxy would be a big, even devastating, loss to the local  movie scene and would efface another small part of our history.

The Galaxy will always be a site of intense sentimentality for me. It’s where I went on my first date with my wife, where we saw Is Anybody There?, a drama featuring Michael Caine as a retired magician who befriends a boy whose parents run the retirement home where he lives. I can still point to the parking space where we pulled up in her car and remember squinting into the dark as we sought to find empty seats, one of the rare occasions I’ve arrived late to a movie. Since then, my wife and I have seen dozens of movies there, and I’ll often catch others while she is working, usually enjoying a beer and sometimes a samosa while I watch, often relaxing with a book beforehand on one of the couches in the lobby beforehand. When I do go, the ticket takers invariably recognize us, greeting us personally with a smile and friendly conversation. I’m sure there are hundreds of other people who have similar memories or experiences associated with the Galaxy. No matter what, theaters can provide us with a sense of connection to others, the opportunity to share in the pleasure of watching movies together. And the Galaxy’s unique mixture of Bollywood and art house movies creates a fascinating hybrid space, where different communities cross paths, even if only for the brief instant of passing through the lobby or standing in line for tickets.

The Galaxy’s struggles are familiar to anyone who has been following the fate of independent film and art house theaters. Digital projection has raised a number of challenges for independently-owned theaters, who face the expense of buying expensive projectors with little help from the studios. As this indieWire article reports, hundreds of theaters may face closure, and there is some speculation that the studios are relatively unconcerned about this loss in the number of screens. Furthermore, given that so many independent films are now available through alternative platforms, such as video-on-demand and digital downloads, the place of art house theaters isn’t as clear as it used to be. Even worse, as David Bordwell points out, the core audience for art house movies–Baby Boomers and others who grew up on the ’60s art cinema–isn’t getting younger, and a new generation of moviegoers is accustomed to practices of time-shifting and watching on-demand, rather than tailoring their lives around a movie schedule. The Galaxy has worked hard to diversify, hosting special events like live Wimbledon viewing parties and screenings, like the Kevin Smith Red State Q&A, making it more than simply a place for viewing movies.

Given all of the movie options in a long-tail culture, it’s difficult for art houses to compete, a problem that is exacerbated by the ongoing (and inevitable, at this point) shift to digital projection. But it’s also important to hold onto whatever local sensibilities remain, and the Triangle community would lose quite a bit if the Galaxy were to close. Speaking selfishly, I know that I would lose a tangible reminder of an important part of our first date–thankfully the sushi place where we stopped appears to be still going strong–and a crucial place of relaxation after grading papers or writing articles, a sentiment that I’m sure is shared by others. I know that one person’s opinion isn’t enough to stop a bulldozer and that a fancy grocery store might seem like a safer bet than a business based on predicting the tastes of a bunch of movie buffs, but it would be a significant loss for the community if the Galaxy is shut down. No decisions have been made at this time, and the theater’s owners are gearing up for a fight. Here’s hoping we can keep the Galaxy and its spirit alive.

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SCMS on YouTube

Just a quick pointer to the Society for Cinema and Media Studies’ YouTube page, where they have compiled a number of videos from the conference. I even participated in one of them (it’s embedded below), where I talked about one of the conference panels I most enjoyed (and, no, I didn’t discuss my own).

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Accessing the Cinematic Cloud

In case you missed it elsewhere, I have a new post on the Antenna Blog, “Accessing the Cinematic Cloud,” which responds to John August’s comparison of digital movie delivery with ATMs. August draws some interesting connections between early problems with ATMs and similar problems that confront consumers of digital cinema. My main response is to raise some questions about how these issues will be resolved and whether these new formats will really fulfill the promises of access, choice, and diversity. I’d very much enjoy hearing your thoughts.

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Catching Up

With Andrea out of town for the weekend, I’ve spent much of my time attending and participating in Duke University’s Marxism and New Media Conference. While my own work seemingly places much more emphasis on the category “new media” than “Marxist,” I deeply enjoyed and benefitted from testing the limits of current conversations in media studies about the practices of production, and in my own essay on social check-in services, about the creation of value in an attention economy. I’m not going to try to read today’s links completely through the lens of the conference, but I think it has sharpened my thinking on a couple of key points:

  • One quick bit of news: Star Wars Uncut, a fan film I discussed in the edited collection, Science Fiction Film, Television, and Adaptation: Across the Screens, has been released on YouTube in a director’s cut, one that includes more seamless video and sound editing. I discussed SWU as a paradigmatic example of a crowdsourced adaptation and still remain fascinated by it, though I have to admit that I still have some fondness for the original patchwork version that was auto-generated based on people’s votes.
  • Speaking of fan responses, I’ve been interested in the Vertigo meme, in which fans, responding to Kim Novak’s complaints about the use of the Vertigo theme in The Artist (which she referred to as a “violation”),  have been adding the music to a wide range of other texts. For one of the more thoughtful discussions of this project check out Jason Mittell’s discussion of how he Vertigoed The Wire and Kevin Lee and Matt Zoller Seitz’s announcement of the contest at Press Play.  Scroll down for one of my favorite examples, in which The Big Lebowski gets the Vertigo treatment. Moments like these renew my faith in remix culture.
  • This story is a few days old, but given my focus on digital cinema, I think it’s worth noting that Eastman Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • I’m intrigued by the discussion of this screening of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, in which the pre-show advertising automatically turned on during the movie, leading to overlapping images showing Ben Kingsley talking over ads warning us to silence our cell phones, animated candy bars, and other advertising ephemera. It’s a bizarre mashup and a horrifying depiction of the automation of theatrical projection in the era of digital cinema.
  • On a related note, Anthony Kaufman discusses some of the challenges for indie and art house theaters in the era of digital projection.
  • Worth noting, many of the videos I’ve mentioned today would be at risk of being pulled (and their websites would also be threatened with legal action) if SOPA and/or PIPA had been passed. Henry Jenkins links to a detailed discussion of some of the creative activism that has been inspired by the anti-SOPA movement. On a related note, New Tee Vee has an article that explores some of the possible motivations for piracy, specifically the lack of available premium content via digital platforms.
  • Curiously, given this complaint, however Janko Roettgers, also of New Tee Vee, argues that we are in a “golden age of content.” Roettgers uses the announcement that  both Hulu and Netfix are producing original series (rather than merely serving as a portal to access content produced by others) to argue that we have far more choices for watching than ever before. Videonuze also has a discussion of “online originals.”
  • On a related note, Aymar Jean Christian has announced the launch of a new academic blog dedicated to the study of the future of video and television, Hacktivision.
  • This has been around for a while, but via the cinetrix, I just learned about the promo video for a planned adaptation of William Gibson’s Neuromancer from 1986.
  • Joe Swanberg has a new film out called Marriage Material. Richard Brody reviews the film favorably and notes that it will be available to watch online for free for two weeks.

The Big V from Will Woolf on Vimeo.

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Streaming U

It’s now safe to officially announce some very exciting news. Max Dawson (Northwestern University) and I have been invited to join a team of researchers as part of the Connected Viewing Initiative (CVI), sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As the CVI website reports, the project is designed “to imagine the future of modern media, while also turning a critical lens on the often inflated speculation about the social and commercial promise of new technology.” With the changes in media distribution–streaming video, electronic sell-through, and cloud storage–we are at a pivotal moment, one that raises any number of questions.

The particular project that Max and I proposed, Streaming U: College Students and Connected Viewing, looks at the ways in which college students are navigating the volatile video distribution market. Our research will focus on the connected viewing behaviors of students enrolled at two different universities, in part to gauge some of the arguments that have been made about today’s so-called “digital natives.” I’m flattered to be included in such an outstanding group of scholars and excited to be working on what I think will be a truly engaging research project.

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Rebooting

I’ve been away from the blog for a while. There are countless reasons for that. Many of the items that might have served as quick commentary posts have appeared instead on Facebook or, less frequently, Twitter. I’ve been frantically trying to finish a draft of my new book manscript by the end of the semester (I mailed it off on Saturday, standing in line at the post office for an hour). Teaching has produced the usual demands of grading and prepping and advising, among the usual activities that come with being a professor, but teaching has generally been pretty exciting this semester. I’ve also been doing some other writing that I can discuss in further detail in the next few days, hopefully.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time helping my stepson and my exchange-student daughter navigate the college sports recruiting process. I won’t go into specifics, but it’s a far more complicated process than most people realize, especially for sports that don’t generate a lot of revenue. In fact, getting recruited to many of these sports may actually be a reflection of qualities that have less to do with performance on the field or court (although obviously those skills matter a great deal). Getting recruited is certainly tied to networks, but you also have to have quite a bit of tenacity and skill at self-promotion and quite a bit of savvy about how the process works. This isn’t a complaint as much as it is an observation.

But as the year comes to an end (and especially with a draft of a book manuscript reaching completion), I’ve been finding myself reflecting on the future direction not only of this blog but also of my direction as a scholar and/or writer. To some extent, I’ve been trying to think how I can use the tools available to me–blogs, social media, academic conferences, etc–in order to continue doing work that is rewarding to write (and hopefully to read).

For that reason, I’ve been mulling Steven Berlin Johnson’s recent blog post, in which he discusses “the anatomy of an idea.”  Some of his conclusions aren’t that unexpected. Research (or “the discovery process,” to use Johnson’s phrase) is social. To a great extent, this has always been true. Writers and editors read and share drafts. Colleagues discuss ideas at cocktail parties. But I think that Johnson is probably right to emphasize the importance of the diverse forms of social activity that can foster inquiry. I certainly benefitted from a wide range of suggestions and advice when writing my first book, and while I have been less public about the process for my current book, I continue to learn from my fellow bloggers. As a result, I’m hoping to make a greater effort in the coming months to re-immerse myself in the network, not necessarily in the closed playground of Facebook (although I must continue to satisfy my Scrabble addition) but on Twitter, which tends to foster open-ended, public conversations much more effectively, and in the blogosphere.

I don’t want to commit to specific goals or to writing specific kinds of posts, though I miss writing both the essayistic posts where I took the time to develop ideas in detail and the movie review posts where I sought to  bring some of my own idiosyncratic concerns to reading contemporary films. Time demands have made writing film reviews a bit more difficult, but I’ve genuinely missed the opportunity to use this space to reflect about some of the ideas that matter to me.

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2:04:30

This weekend, I ran the City of Oaks Half Marathon in Raleigh, the first time I’ve run that distance since 2008, when I ran the Outer Banks and Atlanta Half Marathons less than a month apart. I’m not really sure how three years have passed since then, but I stopped running halfs for a while due to some leg injuries–mostly due to shoes with unnecessarily high arch supports–and other assorted busy-ness. My training schedule has also been somewhat uneven, so I was, as my wife will quickly confirm, unusually nervous about running. Add to that a Seinfeld-induced fear that I would oversleep my alarm clock(s) due to the time change, and I was pretty skittish.

But thankfully, once I arrived at the race, which began (and ended) at the Bell Tower on NC State’s campus, my nerves settled down and I was ready to run. I liked the course, which leads through downtown Raleigh, past the Capitol  building (where a few Occupy Wall Street protestors were cheering us on), briefly along Glenwood Avenue, and out toward the State Fairgrounds before culminating back on NC State’s campus. The course itself has some mild hills, especially in the 6-10 mile range, but fortunately my neighborhood trail had prepared me for them.*

As usual, the cheering crowds along the trail made the race even more fun. It was great to see parents with children, students, and other volunteers cheering us on, many of them in humorous fashion (my personal favorite was a sign that simply read “Something Encouraging”). And the post-race food area was more than adequately stocked with plenty of water, bananas, pizza, and even beer, a nice reward for a long run. A post-race massage was a nice bonus, but of course the best part of the race was having the Best Wife Ever waiting for me at the finish line, cheering me as completed the race.

I didn’t quite get my personal record–I actually missed it by 18 seconds–but I finished pretty fast, running the second half of the race  about 8-10 minutes faster than the first half. The raceday environment is pretty addictive, and it’s always fun to be part of a big crowd in which everyone has the same goal of finishing the race. More than anything, the race was a reminder of how much I enjoy the rush of completing a challenging race and the excitement of moving through one of my favorite cities.

* I also played my usual game of counting Starbucks and Waffle Houses along the course. Alas, downtown Raleigh is far too eclectic for the game to work well. The two chains ended in a 1-1 tie.

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Week in Review

First, I want to pass along the exciting news that I will be giving a talk at Georgia State University on October 17, 2011. The title of the talk, “‘Make Any Room Your TV Room:’ Mobility, Personalization, and the Fragmentation of Movie Culture,” is meant to echo Lynn Spigel’s Make Room for TV, and the paper will explore the marketing and promotion of portable media players. I’ll post some more specific details in the next few days, but speaking at GSU will be especially exciting for me in that I am a big fan of the work being done by their communication faculty and graduate students. And as a GSU alum (M.A., English, back in the day), it will be a nice little homecoming, too.

I’ve been engaged all week with some pressing deadlines, but there’s a lot to talk about in the world of digital delivery. First, Sony has announced that they will no longer subsidize the purchase of the RealD 3D glasses, passing the costs along to theaters. David Poland speculates that Sony’s tactics could reopen discussion between the MPAA and theater owners about what 3D format is best for everyone, but that it’s more likely to devolve into both sides trying to get the best deal, moviegoers (who are paying $12 a ticket, btw), be damned.

The fragmentation of Netflix continues to generate quite a bit of conversation as entertainment pundits try to envision where we’re going. Anthony Kaufman argues that Netflix is essentially cutting off the “long tail” by dropping its deals with many independent distributors. David Poland has a slightly better take here, suggesting that the “long tail” fantasy has now been exposed, reminding us that production costs aren’t “scalable.” That is, mid-level indies could never sustain themselves based on what Netflix could pay. On a related note, Poland continues to lobby for SnagFilms to take up the slack here, suggesting that they are best positioned to obtain rights to (and subscribers for) an platform specializing in distributing indie films.

Netflix’s problems have inspired at least one media industry observer to suggest that the company has built “a sprawling, beautiful castle..on quicksand.” In fact, Bill Gurley makes the case that Netflix’s focus on streaming video will continue to cause problems, in large part because the first sale doctrine does not apply for streaming video, meaning that the company has to negotiate streaming rights for every film they want to show. On a related note, there is some evidence that more Netflix consumers use DVDs than streaming for their TV viewing.

The studio-supported digital download platform Ultraviolet is starting to make some noise, with Sony announcing that Friends with Benefits and The Smurfs will be their first two films released using the service. It still mystifies me that studios are expecting users to pay premium prices to store something in the cloud when they can pay significantly less to pay for temporary access to the same content, usually on streaming services. But it’s worth noting that Wal-Mart (which has been characterized as the world’s largest film distributor) may be joining forces with Ultraviolet, a move that would allow DVD buyers at Wal-Mart to pay for the right to store and access their movies online.

Finally, it seems significant that Amazon announced the release of its new video-enabled tablet, the Kindle Fire, in the midst of all the Netflix drama. As New Tee Vee points out, the Kindle Fire will not only provide competition with other tablets (such as Apple’s iPad), but it will also serve to promote Amazon’s streaming video service. Amazon’s announcement was accompanied by the news that they have also acquired the rights to stream a number of Fox television shows, including Arrested Development, 24, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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Documentary and Digital Distribution (in Spanish)

Taking a quick break from other projects to mention that my recent Jump Cut article, “Digital Distribution, Participatory Culture, and the Transmedia Documentary,” has been republished and translated into Spanish for the Barcelona-based magazine, Blogs and Docs.

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Fan Films, Adaptations, and Media Literacy

I’ve just received a copy of the edited collection, Science Fiction Film, Television, and Adpatation: Across the Screens, from Routledge, in which I have an article, “Fan Films, Adaptations, and Media Literacy.” The collection looks fantastic, with articles that look at the issue of adaptation through texts ranging from The Twilight Zone and Logan’s Run to Stargate SG-1, Doctor Who, The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and Serenity. Given the focus on a wide range of texts, the book would seem to be a great fit for courses on science fiction film and TV, as well as courses that seek to challenge older concepts of adaptation theory.

My own essay is less tied to any individual science-fiction franchise but looks more broadly at a number of fan film adaptations, including Star Wars Uncut (which I mentioned very briefly back when I was writing the article), Troops, and Doctor Who: Alternative Empire. The essay concludes with a brief reference to Henry Jenkins’ concept of “Avatar activism.” As the title and the nod to Jenkins suggest, my goal in the article was to link the practices of fan adaptations to emerging forms of media literacy and political activism.

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