Current Research & Projects

WFTHN currently has over 200 members located in the UK/Ireland and abroad, many of whom are involved in research about women’s film and television history. See below for a list of current research and/or projects that WFTHN members are involved in.

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Shelley Cobb & Linda Ruth Williams (both University of Southampton)
‘Calling the Shots: Women in Contemporary UK Fulm Culture’ is a large Arts and Humanities Research Council funded (£589,710) four-year project researching and writing the contemporary history of women working in the UK film industry. The team are conducting primary research through a detailed statistical analysis of British films from 2000-2015, and conducting interviews with 50 women in six key filmmaking roles. The Project Partners include the BFI, Women in Film and Television UK, BECTU, Birds Eye View, and Harbour Lights Cinema. The data collection will produce annual reports for the years of 2000-2015 detailing how many women worked in key production roles – director, writer, producer, exec producer, cinematographer and editor – on British films released between those years. The interviews are being recorded and will help to build a story of women’s varied experiences in British film in the first part of this century. At the end of the grant they will be available to future scholars through the BECTU History Project archive. Natalie Wreyford is the project’s Research Assistant. The project’s two PhD candidates are Ania Ostrowska and Sarah SmythBeth Carroll is a Lecturer in Film and Literature, whose two-year contract is funded by the grant.
Outputs:  See the first report here.
Duration of project: 2015-2019
Contact: Visit the project website

Melanie Bell (Newcastle University) & Vicky Ball (De Montfort University)
‘Women’s Work in British Film and Television’ is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is a collaborative partnership between Newcastle University and De Montfort University. Its aim is to assess the contributions women have made to film/television production in Britain during a period of considerable social change and substantial institutional change for the industries: 1933-89.
Outputs: British Universities Film and Video Council, which is producing a database and web-resource that will make the materials we produce available to others.
Duration of project: January 2014 to June 2017
Visit the project website

Christine Gledhill (retired prof. Staffordshire University)
‘UK entries for international Women Film Pioneers Project Database on Lydia Hayward (scriptwriter), Dinah Shurey (Producer/Director), Billie Bristow (Publicist), Rosita Forbes (Filmmaker), all working in the 1920s and Lydia Hayward crossing over into the sound era, to 1942.
Project Summary: Lydia Hayward was one of the most highly regarded scriptwriters of 1920s British cinema, with a substantial list of credits and several of her films preserved in the BFI National Archive. She was involved in three interesting but very different collaborations: one with the director, Manning Haynes and writer, WW Jacobs, many of whose much loved if often acerbic short stories she adapted to the screen; the second with Will Kellino, ex music-hall performer and film director for Stolls, for whom she adapted five women’s novels, centred on the romantic adventures of feisty heroines; and the third with Britain’s only woman director of the time, for whom she scripted a number of naval and military melodramas, which were considered  surprising material for a woman producer but very bad films. Her skills at character construction and trenchant dialogue titles enabled her to cross into the sound era, when she scripted a brilliant adaptation of the popular novel by Warwick Deeping, Sorrell and Son (1933).
Related publication: Book chapter, ‘Lydia Elizabeth Hayward: 1879-1945’ for Jill Nelmes and Jule Selbo, Women Screenwriters: An International Guide (Palgrave, forthcoming 2015)
Visit the project website

Naomi Bolser (University of Leeds)
Project: Is there a tradition of women’s independent moving image practice? PhD research project into women’s independent image making concentrating on amateur, community and art practice from the 1970s until the present day. Young women’s education/historical record/feminism/archive.
Related Outputs: Archive website of links to contextualising literature and moving image content; a forthcoming exhibition in 2016.

Kate Dossett (University of Leeds)
Project: Feminist Archives, Feminist Futures is about the history and future of Feminist Archives and Women’s Libraries in America and Britain.  Understanding and examining the histories of feminist archives and women’s libraries can inspire and challenge us to rethink the meaning and making of feminism. Archives can facilitate new ways to think through issues that have always promoted creative conflict within feminist communities including generational divisions between women’s liberation era activists and social media feminists; women-only spaces; political versus cultural feminism
Related Outputs: Website containing information about current projects and events.
Visit the project website

Kate Ince (University of Birmingham)
Project: Female subjectivities in contemporary women’s cinema draws on feminist philosophers Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Christine Battersby, Iris Young and others to offer readings of some of the most important and memorable films directed by women from the 1990s and early twenty-first century. It suggests where feminist film studies might go ‘after psychoanalysis’, arguing that a feminist film-philosophy of an ethical female subjectivity can best assist women directors’ increasing exploration of gender relations, desire and embodied action.
Planned outputs: A book whose full title is ‘The Body and the Screen: female subjectivities in contemporary women’s cinema’, in Bloomsbury’s ‘Thinking Cinema’ series.
Related publication/conference/event: The book will be published by January 2017 (hopefully December 2016)

Mary Mullen (LCC – independent researcher)
Project: Experimental Television explores how to work within the television framework, in order to consider and deconstruct the conventions of frameworks within television
Planned output/s: short form drama (factual) film
Related publication/conference/event: TBC

Kylie Andrews (University of Technology, Sydney)
Project: Australian broadcasting’s female ‘pilgrims’: Women and work in the post-war ABC.
A history of female public-affairs producers who worked in Australian radio and television between the 1940s and 1970s. Using group biography, this project examines the systems of exclusion and discrimination in the post-war ABC workplace and highlights the nature of women’s work as broadcasters. It compares the careers of elite producers with the majority of female workers at the ABC, contextualising the barriers that prevented most women from sharing the same authority, opportunity and privilege male counterparts experienced. It details the industrial strategies that female broadcasters activated in order to succeed: their transnational and transmedial mobilities, and the key industrial networks and alliances they utilised to traverse previously inaccessible avenues of opportunity.
Planned output/s: Book: tentatively titled, Australian broadcasting’s female ‘pilgrims’: Women and work in the post-war ABC.

Geraldine Creed (Institute of Art, Design + Technology – IADT)
Project: Women in the Power Sphere of Film & Television Production in Ireland: An analysis presents and examines data on successful applicants to the principal agency supporting feature film and creative documentary production in Ireland, namely, Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (formerly Bord Scannan na hÉireann/ Irish Film Board) over a ten-year period (2006-2015). Philosophical theories of power, in the context of gender distribution, are used to interpret the quantitative data. Applying a mixed methods approach facilitated a framework for understanding the organisational norms that create and maintain gender imbalance.
Planned output/s: This research is intended as a constructive addition to existing critical analyses and aims to instigate essential reflection and debate around gender balance in the film and television production sector in Ireland. I plan to publish a book on the findings including interviews with female creatives in the Irish film and television industry.