I have recently had a chapter published in the Italian book The Piracy Effect, edited by Roberto Braga and Giovanni Caruso, that looks at how the giallo, a cycle of popular Italian, is reappropriated and distributed by fans on torrent file-sharing websites. I argue that this is a response to the current market conditions that render the commercial release of currently unreleased gialli on DVD unviable.
After a long seven years I have finally submitted my PhD thesis titled: Making European cult cinema: fan production in an alternative economy. The abstract for my thesis is as follows:
This study gives attention to the fan production surrounding European cult cinema, low budget exploitation films often in the horror genre, that engage a high level of cultural commitment and investment from its fans. It addresses wider issues of debate relating to why people are fans and whether they are anything more than obsessive in their consumption of media. The academic study of fandom is relatively a new area, the formative year being 1992 when studies such as Henry Jenkins’ Textual Poachers, Lisa Lewis’ The Adoring Audience and Camille Bacon-Smith’s Enterprising Women approached fandom as a cultural activity. Studies such as these celebrated fan activity and focussed on fan production being a symbolic activity rather than an economic activity. Academics have only recently began to recognise the commitment, time and effort that fans invest when producing artefacts.
I explore the ways European cult cinema fandom might be understood as an alternative economy of fan production by looking at how fans produce artefacts and commodities. It uses an innovative method of data collection which includes ethnographic observation and interviews, focused on public offline and online fan activities, and my own personal experiences as autoethnography. The collected data is interrogated using a theoretical framework that incorporates ideas from cultural studies and political economy: using the concept of an ‘alternative economy’ of European cult cinema fan production. The purpose being to interpret an object of fandom as a production of meaning, physical artefacts and commodities, therefore understanding fandom an both cultural and economic production.
I argue that, in this alternative economy, fans are ‘creative’ workers who are now using digital technologies to produce artefacts that are exchanged as gifts or commodities; this practice relating to repertoires of professionalism. I find that fans are not just producing artefacts and commodities relating to European cult cinema, but that through these processes they are culturally and economically making what has become known as European cult cinema.
Members of Screen Cultures have been in London for the past two days at Transforming Audiences 3, discussing two ongoing projects from the research group.
I attended to present a paper on my The West Wing on Twitter project, which I’ve been running over the past 12 months with Inger-Lise Bore. If you’d like to see some links to background reading, including a few blog posts by me, head over to bit.ly/wwtwitter. Oliver Carter and Simon Barber shared findings from an ongoing project into a cult cinema community and archive.
The conference gave us a good chance to catch up with a number of people, most notably Nacho – an honorary member of the BCMCR team who spend last summer seconded to us from Madrid.