World Cinema On-Demand: Film Distribution and Education in the Streaming Media Era.

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch of Modern Languages

Abstract

In recent years, huge advances in technology have enabled new channels of film distribution through video streaming website such as Youtube, Vimeo and, more recently, video on-demand platform such as Netflix, Lovefilm, MUBI and Itunes. Even social networks such as Facebook are planning to offer video on-demand thanks to agreements with the largest film production companies (ie. Warner Brothers). These advances suggest that the distribution of cinema is undergoing a radical transformation, in which the Hollywood studios are not the only beneficiaries. In fact, the video on-demand platforms have vastly improved the accessibility of silent, art-house and world cinema, bringing these films to new audiences all over the globe, as evident from data published by streaming websites.

This research network examines the impact of these transformation on the distribution, teaching, and research of world cinema. It will achieve this by creating a point of reference for debate and discussion, bringing together different experiences, competences, and disciplines. Moreover, it will undertake the collection and analysis of data regarding the viewing patterns and potential of this online market. These aims will be achieved through a dedicated website and the formation of two specialised workshops of two days each, initiating an important international research network.

The first workshop will engage directly with ongoing debates surrounding these transformations with regard to the study and research of issues such as national cinema, transnational identity, production, distribution and archiving. It will create an international dialogue between academic researchers in the field of film studies and digital and new media. Every scholar invited will present a paper dedicated to the impact of streaming media in their field and institution, and a final roundtable discussion will investigate the practical implication of using streaming media in research and education.

The outcomes of this debate will form the basis of the second workshop, which will bring together industry professionals working in streaming media, education specialists, and information technology experts, in order to consider solutions for the practical problems presented by the use of streaming media in education contexts. These issues will include copyright and piracy problems, financial considerations and technological issues. The roundtable will engage with a pilot case scenario, investigating the steps that need to be taken into consideration in order to institutionally incorporate streaming media into film studies teaching in UK.

The ultimate aim of this research is to realise tangible, real-world applications of streaming media in the teaching and research of film studies in higher education, drawing from international expertise and experiences in diverse disciplines and industries.

Planned Impact

Given that this project aims to create an interdisciplinary forum for research and debate regarding the online, streamed distribution of world cinema to both the HE sector and beyond, an array of individuals and organisations outside of academic research circles will benefit. The primary beneficiaries will be:

- education institutions, who may benefit from being able to more efficiently allocate teaching and library resources, allowing these to be more readily directed to the needs of their students.

- students engaging on film studies/media studies programmes, who may benefit from a broader range of study resources, readily available and potentially hosted on a multi-institutional platform.

- students engaging in filmmaking programmes, who may avail of new channels of distribution via specially developed platforms, increasing exposure of their work and inviting critical reflection and feedback.

- private sector organisations involved in the distribution of world cinema, who may benefit from increased accuracy in the delivery of their products to specialised markets (e.g. scholars/students of world cinema), facilitated in part by the intelligence and insight generated by the use of these products.

- public and private sector organisations involved in film production, who may benefit from enhanced exposure of their products generated by potential standardised distribution platforms targeting specilised markets.

- private sector organisations for whom video-on-demand services form a significant proportion of their commercial activity, such as video-rental services (e.g. LoveFilm/MUBI/Itunes) and video sharing sites (e.g. Youtube, Vimeo), enabling them to identify and develop new income-streams in partnership with the education sector, at the same time as reducing the impact of video piracy and other forms of malpractice.

- third sector organisations, including education charities (e.g. Film Education), libraries, museums, and archives, who may exploit potential new platforms developed for the distribution of world film for educational purposes.

- the wider community, who may benefit from the potential improvements in the availability and accessibility of world cinema for education purposes, increasing and enhancing opportunities for knowledge transfer between the academic community and the general public.

Publications

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Baschiera S. (2013) European horror cinema - streaming in UK in N/A

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Baschiera, S. (2013) World Cinema On-Demand in Viewfinder

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Baschiera, S. (2014) Streaming Italian Horror in UK. in N/A

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Baschiera, S. Streaming Italian Horror Cinema in UK in Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies

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Baschiera, S. Streaming World Genre Cinema in Frames Journal

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Fisher, A African Cinema On Demand: MNET and the African Film Library in Quarterly Review of Film and Video

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Fisher, A (2013) African Cinema On Demand: African Film Scholarship in the Era of Online Distribution in European Network for Cinema and Media Studies Conference

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Fisher, A (2012) Researching World Cinemas in the Era of Online Distribution: MNET and the African Film Library in Evolving African Film Cultures: Local and Global Experiences', University of Westminster

 
Description The network has foregrounded a range of issues and debates in the area of online distribution. These include the following:

1) How online piracy is affecting our access to resources.
2) How geo-blocking affects access world cinemas.
3) How higher education institutions might be more prepared for the transformations that are currently taking place in film distribution.
4) How film scholars and HE institutions might engage with new business models to make the disintermediation work.
5) How questions of Intellectual Property are affected and complicated by disintermediation.
6) How the long-term preservation and archiving of marginal and niche material may be both assisted and threatened by digitization.
7) How online distribution affects the transnational life of marginal and niche cinemas.
Exploitation Route The network has generated an awareness amongst scholars, archivists and industry professionals of the role played by EU media institutions in developing online markets for audiovisual products, and the impact of North American and EU corporations (Netflix, amazon etc.) in creating a new intermediation of these products. Scholars involved in the workshops have already published articles informed by the research shared by the network, and an edited collections is currently in preparation by the project investigators.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education

 
Description The project has instigated a dialogue between archivists, distributors, academics and filmmakers regarding the integration of online access to audiovisual resources into teaching and research in world cinema. This has established a multi-disciplinary network that encourages and facilitates the sharing of the latest research and scholarship in the area.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Research Project "Framing Digital Piracy" 
Organisation Ca' Foscari University of Venice
Department Department of Economics
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have been part of the advisory board of this research project. I travelled to Venice to present at a 2 days symposium alongside academics, policymakers and industry professionals.
Collaborator Contribution They share their expertise on digital piracy as an important element to consider when engaging with new forms of digital distribution of media content. They created links with Italian stakeholders and policymakers.
Impact the 2 days symposium organised in Venice in June 2016.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Invited participation to the symposium "Streaming media e cultura on demand: dalla distribuzione alla circolazione?" University Ca' Foscari Venezia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact the two days symposium (6-7 June 2016) had an average of 40 people in attendance and created a dialogue between academics, policymakers (dedicated to digital piracy communication) and industry (owner of streaming platforms in Italy; copyright lawyers).
the focus was on the new role of gatekeepers in the digital realm and the ways in which the industry reacts/adapts to the different forms of piracy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Lecture at Trinity College Leeds on Online distribution of World Cinema 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact The talk engaged the 2nd year students with a practical sets of questions and activities regarding the online availability of foreign language cinema.

several questions were asked regarding rights permissions and categorisation of films in services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime

Members of staff asked to be part of the research network
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Lecture at Universita' la Cattolica (Milan) on Online distribution of World Cinema 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The lecture rose a lot of interest as in Italy the market of streaming distribution is not as developed as in UK. Therefore, the discussion focused on a comparative study analysing possible business models for the Italian streaming development.

The notable impact of this activity consisted in an awareness about the possible future development of Italian online film distribution.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Paper delivered at an international conference in Rome. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Invited talk as part of the conference Popular Italian Cinema: Sources, Archives And International Reception, organised by the University La Sapienza - Rome. The audience was made of UG students, PG students, and academic specialised in film studies. My talk involved the streaming presence of Italian Cinema on European platforms. Following my intervention I was invited to take part in another specialised conference which will take place in Bologna in Summer 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Round Table - Workshop 1 WCOD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The roundtable was organised after the first Workshop of this project. It consisted in 10 international scholars discussing the future steps that needed to be undertaken by the research group.
The discussion stressed the need to take into account question of piracy, new possible business models and digital archives while researching online distribution. Moreover, it stressed some of the possible limitations of adopting streaming services at the HE level. In particular the subscription model was considered as problematic as does not allow a library to built a significant catalogue of film material.


the second and third workshops organised as part of this research were deeply influenced by the outcomes of the roundtable.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Streaming European Cinema: Online Distribution and the Film Industry in Europe 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Workshop analysing contemporary film industry and funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences under the 'New Ideas' scheme.
My presentation led to a series of questions and discussion with practitioners and scholars, in particular with regard to the impact of online distribution and the EU MEDIA policies.

Scholars who did not consider to possibly engage with streaming distributions in their research, approached me asking for further information and how this aspect of European Film Industry can be tackled.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://newcinemas-changingaudiences.com
 
Description Workshop 1 WCOD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The organised workshop consisted in a series of presentations by international scholars (experts in World Cinema and Film Industry) and by representatives of media industries engaging with the issue of online distribution and access to films.
The result of the activity was a lively discussion involving scholars, postgraduate students and educators about the possible implications of the post-DVD era in teaching and research.
In particular the discussion focused on the issues related the lack of an online repository of audio visual material available for education purposes as the existing (legal and illegal) offer is fragmented and unstable in its persistency.

The workshop generated a report written by a PhD student and published on Alphaville Journal.

The fact to have this kind of event organised in Belfast and open to the public was already an impact as it allowed an unprecedented engagement of international scholars and practitioners analysing the impact of a new technology.
One of the impacts consisted in the involvement of film and TV archives in the development of the project, the engagement of PhD students in this research and the reflection on the possible changing role of film exhibition with the advent of new technology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://worldcinemaod.wordpress.com/programme/
 
Description Workshop 2 WCOD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This workshop was practical in nature and saw, among others, the involvement of representatives from the BUFVC, EUscreen, the archive or Irish television (RTE).
Issues of Intellectual Property, Copyright and use of streaming in Higher Education were raised and saw a great interest from the public who asked several questions at this regard.

Scholars and students learnt about regulations and possible use of audiovisual copyrighted material in HE.
Members of the public were made aware of the possible use in teaching and research of international film and TV archives.
Another impact consisted in the understanding of the problematic acquisition of streaming distribution rights in HE at that stage (2012). In fact, the possibility to acquire the rights to grant the students access to a film by streaming was far from being cost efficient for the library.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2013
URL http://worldcinemaod.wordpress.com/programme-2/
 
Description Workshop 3 WCOD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact the workshop engaged directly with the question of piracy and informal mode of distribution and created a lively discussion among PhD students and media practitioners.

One PhD student decided to focus her research on the question of piracy in distribution of niche cinema as an ideal follow-up of the discussions arose during the workshop.
One of the participant of the workshop (Dr. Valentina Re) successfully applied for research funding in Italy in order to analyse the issue if piracy and the application was informed by the arguments of this event.
This will lead to a future collaboration with the dept. of Beni Culturali at the University of Ca' Foscari (Venice, Italy) working on a funded project entitled: 'FRAMING DIGITAL 'PIRACY'. Piracy and anti-piracy in Italy from 1988 to the present: discursive strategies, forms of consumption and cultural policies.
Undergraduate students present to the workshop started to consider possible business models of distribution of user generated contents for their practice based works.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://worldcinemaod.wordpress.com/programme-3/
 
Description World Cinema On Demand - Online distribution at SCMS Seattle. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact the talk received several questions related to the issue of geo-blocking as a problematic factor for international distribution of audiovisual material and on the fragmentation of the copyright legislation in Europe.

After my talk I have been approached by a distributor interested knowing more about the issues and possibilities of streaming audiovisual materials in HE Institutions in UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013