Fan Film, Fan Films

Ph.D. Thesis Profiles Star Wars: Revelations and Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning Fan Films

collaborative filmmaking ph.dMaking a fan film is a great way to express yourself, learn how to make a movie and generally have fun. Others simply enjoy watching fan films, and that’s cool, too: You get entertained (hopefully), see aspects of a favorite character or franchise that you never saw before, and discover what your fellow fans are thinking.

As I’ve often said on FCT, however, there’s also a lot you can learn from fan films, period. The academic study of fandom has been a growing field the past few years, and now the classic fan films, Star Wars: Revelations and Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning were recently used as part of a Ph.D thesis on the emerging field of widespread collaborative filmmaking.

A Ph.D candidate in Barcelona, , recently defended his thesis, “Cap al cinema col.laboratiu: pràctiques culturals i formes de producció participatives” (“Towards Collaborative Film-Making: Cultural Practices And Forms Of Participant Production”) at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

Apparently the pressure was on when Roig’s thesis went up for review; examiner John Postill noted, “The candidate defended his work with admirable clarity and vigour—especially if we bear in mind that a large audience of friends, family, colleagues and others had gathered at the main hall….” Here’s a case where watching fan films paid off, however, because Roig apparently will graduate as a cum laude. Postill reported:

This thesis examines the changes and continuities in film-making in the digital era, with special reference to how relationships between professional and amateur film-making – as well as film ‘producers’ and their ‘audiences’ – may be changing. The study explores the question of to what extent we may be moving towards more collaborative models of film-making linked to sociotechnological developments such as the free/open source movement and the thriving field of digital fan cinema. The first half of the thesis is a comprehensive critical review of a range of theoretical literatures pertinent to the question, including practice theory (and media studies), fan cultures, cultural production, the creative industries, digital cinema, media convergence, and new media and society. The second half builds on this theoretical critique to present a number of case studies and arrive at some conclusions and suggestions for further research.

The thesis’ claim to originality lies in its novel use of a still emerging practice-theoretical approach to media to analyse three country-specific case studies of collaborative film-making (X-ILE Pictures in the USA [Star Wars: Revelations], Energia Productions in Finland [Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning], and A Swarm of Angels in Britain) – the first two examples of ‘fan films’, the third inspired by the free/open source movement. This claim is wholly justified, for this a substantial and innovative contribution to both our present understanding of collaborative film-making and to the emerging theorisation of media as practice (Couldry, Bird, Ardevol et al, etc). The case studies are very well chosen, thoroughly researched through qualitative methods (primarily web content analysis and interviews) and skilfully compared from a practice-theoretical perspective in the second half of the thesis. Roig proposes an original typology – one potentially very useful for further comparative work – of the ‘families of practices’ found in the three digital projects studied, e.g. practices of production, distribution, organisation, self-promotion, etc, and their interrelations.

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1 Response to “Ph.D. Thesis Profiles Star Wars: Revelations and Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning Fan Films”

  1. 1 Toni Roig

    I’ve just known you published this post on my Thesis, and I feel flattered and very grateful for your interest (at the very least!!). It’s a pleasure to be mentioned in a site which has been a reference for my work. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to include ‘Homemade Hollywood’ in my research but now I’ll have the chance to read it for sheer pleasure. Thank you again and happy new year for everyone!!!!

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