Project Team

Bridgette Wessels (Principal Investigator)

Bridgette Wessels is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social & Political Sciences at University of Glasgow and PI of the Beyond the Multiplex project.

Her research focuses on social change, media including digital media and cultural participation. She has extensive research experience in the area of digital culture in a wide range of areas, such as public sphere, the creative and cultural industries, media and new media, e-services, and digital culture in everyday life studies. She is particularly interested audiences and cultural engagement in regional contexts and she is just finishing a project that focuses on regional media in a global media age in Sweden (REGPRESS) as well as research with the Courtauld Gallery on audience engagement and a study of regional film audiences in the North of England.

She has recently finished working on projects that focus on the open data and knowledge society, participatory design for digital research in the early modern newsbooks, mainstreaming telehealth, the role social media in the new dynamics of cultural audiences. She has also just finished working on the relationship between social media and political culture. These foci also involve addressing methodological challenges in terms of working with big data in meaningful ways. Bridgette has undertaken comparative research in Europe that addresses diversity, participation and communication. She has also undertaken research globally in developing countries looking at inclusion and the digital divide.

She has written 6 books including Open Data and the Knowledge society (Amsterdam University Press), Social Change: process and Context (Palgrave, 2014), Understanding he Internet:a socio-cultural perspective( Palgrave). She has published numerous articles and has had research funding from the research councils in the UK as well as European funding. She has been on advisory boards for the EU, UK government, the Association of South East Asia nations, and the Consumer Action Network, Australia, and the EU e-Forum Privacy Group, including the EU ICT–China programme.

Email: bridgette.wessels@glasgow.ac.uk
Web: https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/socialpolitical/staff/bridgettewessels/

Andrew Higson (Co-Investigator)

Andrew Higson is Greg Dyke Professor of Film and Television at the University of York. He is an expert on British cinema, and on debates about national, transnational and European cinema, and he will be bringing his understanding of the British film industry and British film policy to bear on the ‘Beyond the Multiplex’ project, for which he is leading Work Packages 2 and 6.

Andrew has published widely on British cinema, from the silent period to the present, and from contemporary drama to the heritage film. His books include Waving the Flag: Constructing a National Cinema in Britain (Oxford University Press, 1995), English Heritage, English Cinema: The Costume Drama Since 1980 (Oxford University Press, 2003), and Film England: Culturally English Filmmaking Since the 1990s (I.B. Tauris, 2011). He has edited three surveys of British cinema history, Dissolving Views: Key Writings on British Cinema (Cassell, 1996/Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), British Cinema, Past and Present (co-edited with Justine Ashby; Routledge, 2000), and Young and Innocent? The Cinema in Britain, 1896-1930 (University of Exeter Press, 2002). He has also co-edited two books on European cinema: ‘Film Europe’ and ‘Film America’: Cinema, Commerce and Cultural Exchange, 1920-1939 (University of Exeter Press, 1999, with Richard Maltby), and European Cinema and Television: Cultural Policy and Everyday Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, with Ib Bondebjerg and Eva Novrup Redvall).

The latter book is one of many publications arising from the HERA-funded research project he led from 2013-2016, Mediating Cultural Encounters Through Europeans Screens (www.mecetes.co.uk). This project explored the production, distribution, dissemination and reception of contemporary European film and television drama with a team of colleagues from the Universities of York, Copenhagen and VUB. Andrew is also the lead editor of the Palgrave European Film and Media Studies series (established 2013, with Palgrave Macmillan), which includes five titles to date, with more on the way.

Email: andrew.higson@york.ac.uk
Web: https://www.york.ac.uk/tftv/staff/higson

Michael Pidd (Co-Investigator)

Michael Pidd is Director of The Digital Humanities Institute at the University of Sheffield. The DHI is one of the UK’s leading digital humanities research centres specializing in R&D for projects in the arts and humanities that have a computational or digital component. Michael has 25 years of experience in developing, managing and delivering large collaborative and multi-institutional research projects in the arts, humanities and heritage subject domains. Michael’s role involves developing, managing and guaranteeing the delivery of a large portfolio of externally-funded digital research projects; specifically managing the technology and workflow aspects. Supported by a team of developers, project managers and researchers, he has been responsible for overseeing the delivery of 53 research projects since 2009 and he is currently responsible for the delivery of 25 live projects. Michael is also responsible for the leadership and strategic development of both the DHI and digital humanities within the University’s Faculty of Arts, including developing the DHI’s relationships with clients and stakeholders, nationally and internationally. Example projects include Old Bailey Online, Linguistic DNA, England’s Immigrants, Locating London’s Past, Digital Panopticon, Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity, Jaina Prosopography, Italian Cinema Audiences, and the Tudor Chamber Books.

Michael’s interests revolve around data science and data modelling within a humanities context. For Beyond the Multiplex he is responsible for the delivery of all technical aspects of the project: the ontology, data management system, data visualisations and public website.

Email: m.pidd@sheffield.ac.uk
Web: http://www.dhi.ac.uk

Simeon Yates (Co-Investigator)

Simeon is Associate Head of School (Research and Impact) and Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities and Social Science. His research on the social, political and cultural impacts of digital media includes a long-standing focus on digital media and interpersonal interaction. More recently, he has worked on projects that address issues of digital inclusion and exclusion and projects that address the use of digital technologies in the context of security and crises — with this work funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), EU and industry. Simeon’s work has often been interdisciplinary and has predominantly involved creative and digital industry partners. He was one of the leads on a major Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded interdisciplinary programme (Engineering for Life) while at Sheffield Hallam.

Simeon has been researching the impacts of the internet and new / digital media on language and culture since 1990. His PhD thesis (1993) is a large-scale linguistic comparison of speech, writing and online interaction. Subsequent published work has covered analyses of gender differences in computer-mediated communication (CMC), gender and computer gaming, email and letter writing, science in the mass media and text books on social research methods — in particular, linguistic and discourse analytic methods.

He was previously the Director of the Institute of Cultural Capital, a strategic collaboration between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University. He established the Cultural, Communication and Computing Research Institute (C3RI) at Sheffield Hallam University, and has previously worked at the Open University and at the University of Leeds. As well as a background in social science, Simeon has an interest and training in science (geology).

For Beyond the Multiplex, Simeon will lead the development of Socio-Cultural Index and the Longitudinal Survey.

Email: Simeon.Yates@liverpool.ac.uk
Web: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/communication-and-media/staff/simeon-yates

David Forrest (Co-Investigator)

David Forrest is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies in the School of English at the University of Sheffield. His research focuses primarily on questions of class, region, and landscape in British cinema, television and literature. He is the author of Social Class: Nationhood and Politics (CSP, 2013), the co-author (with Sue Vice) of Barry Hines: ‘Kes’, ‘Threads’ and Beyond (Manchester University Press, 2017), the co-editor with Beth Johnson of Social Class and Television Drama in Contemporary Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), and the co-editor with Graeme Harper and Jonathan Rayner of Filmurbia: Screening the Suburbs (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). David is currently at work on a monograph entitled New Realisms: Contemporary British Cinema (Edinburgh University Press, due 2019). For a full list of David’s publications, see: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/english/people/forrest#tab06

David’s work on the Beyond the Multiplex project draws on his research on British cinema, and his interests in class and region, and builds from the pilot project: How Audiences Form https://filmhubnorth.org.uk/how-audiences-form which David led with Bridgette Wessels and Michael Pidd.

For Beyond the Multiplex, David is responsible for ‘Research Theme 2: The meaning of specialised film for regional audiences’. This part of the project is interested in the ways in which audiences construct meaning in and through specialised or non-mainstream films. The theme seeks to work with communities of cinemagoers to explore the specific nature of the films, close reading film texts to examine the relationship between film form and the wider cinematic experience.

Email: d.forrest@sheffield.ac.uk
Web: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/english/people/forrest

Peter Merrington (Research Associate)

Peter Merrington is Postdoctoral Research Associate on Beyond the Multiplex, based in the School of Social & Political Sciences at University of Glasgow.

For Beyond the Multiplex, Peter will conduct multi-method research to generate qualitative and quantitative data for the project. This will involve conducting interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders in regional cinema and with regionally based film audiences. It will also involve analysing and interpreting documents, quantitative survey results and qualitative data and preparing data for digital analysis as well as writing up research results and contributing to dissemination of findings to academic and non-academic audiences.

Before joining the project Peter was Assistant Director of AV Festival, a leading international festival of contemporary art, film and music, based in North East England. Peter received his PhD in Fine Art from Newcastle University (2016). Previously, Peter taught Art History at Newcastle University and worked on the production of film festivals, biennials and international events.

Email: peter.merrington@glasgow.ac.uk

Matthew Hanchard (Research Assistant)

Matthew Hanchard is a Research Assistant for Beyond the Multiplex. He contributes towards data gathering, data analyses and various research outputs across the project. This includes conducting interviews, facilitating focus groups, analysing a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data, and contributing towards the dissemination of findings to both academic and non-academic audiences. Before joining the project, Matthew gained a BA(hons) in Photography from the University of Derby where he developed an interest in photography and film theory. He later received an MA in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths (University of London), where he developed an interest in visual sociology and audience reception studies. In his PhD, Matthew sits at the intersection of cartographic theory, practice theory, and digital sociology. He has also carried out collaborative research for a COST funded action on social networks and travel behaviour, drawing on social network theory and mobilities literature. Outside academia Matthew has worked in social housing, software development, HE teaching (undergraduate and postgraduate), and railway infrastructure maintenance planning.

Email: Matthew.Hanchard@glasgow.ac.uk
Web: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/gps/sociology/postgrad/students/studentprofiles/hanchardmatthew.html

Katherine Rogers (Digital Humanities Developer)

Katherine Rogers is a Digital Humanities Developer at the Digital Humanities Institute (DHI) at the University of Sheffield. Katherine has 18 years’ experience of software development and has worked at the DHI for 11 years, designing and developing software for digital humanities research projects. She has worked on more than twenty research projects and was also a Technical Reviewer for the AHRC for 8 years. She taught on the Digital Humanities pathway for the University’s MA Public Humanities. Projects she has led technical development on include Bess of Hardwick’s Letters, Connected Histories and the Borthwick Cause Papers.

Nathan Townsend

Nathan Townsend is Associate Lecturer at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of York. For Beyond the Multiplex he is researching the film policy, in particular the ways in which policy issues have shaped the distribution and exhibition landscape for specialised film in the English regions. His research cuts across several intersecting areas which are of central importance to film and television studies as disciplines. On one hand, it engages with the determinants of structure, process and agency within specific media institutions which, in turn, invoke debates about the interplay between creativity and commerce. On the other, it encompasses a consideration of the relationship between media industries and cultures in national, transnational and global terms. Such concerns were central to my AHRC-funded PhD thesis which provided a creative and commercial history of Working Title Films, arguably the most significant production company in the contemporary British film industry. This research has led to recent publications which explore the relationship between Working Title and its successive parent companies, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and Universal Pictures. His current research focuses on United International Pictures (UIP), the London-headquartered distribution and marketing company which formerly distributed the films of four major Hollywood studios: Dreamworks, MGM, Paramount and Universal.

Email: nathan.townsend@york.ac.uk
Web: https://www.york.ac.uk/tftv/staff/academic/nathantownsend/ 

Roderik Smits

Roderik Smits is a Research Associate in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of York. He will be conducting a series of interviews with industry leaders and stakeholders for Beyond the Multiplex. He is interested in the role of cultural gatekeepers in film and media industries. In particular, he explores how new forms of cultural gatekeeping create opportunities for a greater diversity of films to secure distribution through online outlets across a spectrum of Video-on-Demand (VOD) platforms, such as YouTube, Amazon, Netflix and MUBI, and therefore for audiences to have greater choice and increased access to a wider range of films. His work has been published in Poetics, Arts and the Market and Journal of British Cinema and Television, with another publication under review with the journal Studies in European Cinema. He is currently working on a monograph that is under contract with the Palgrave Macmillan ‘Global Media Policy and Business Series’.

Email: roderik.smits@york.ac.uk
Web: https://www.york.ac.uk/tftv/staff/research/roderik/

Helen Rana (Interviewer)

Helen Rana carries out freelance research, editorial and policy work for universities, cultural and creative organisations. She is currently working with organisations including Newcastle University, the University of the West of England, Nesta and the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich.

Helen is embedded within the creative and media sectors in the South West of England, being a Mentor for the Small Charities Coalition and the Media and Development Adviser for Bristol Rock Centre (an independent music school). She served on the West of England Design Forum Board for six years.

Helen has three Masters degrees: an MSc (2017) in Strategy, Change and Leadership from the University of Bristol, an MPhil (2003) in Historical Studies from the University of Cambridge, and an MA in Film and TV Studies (1992) from the University of Westminster. She also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies (1998) from the University of Westminster and a BA (Hons) (1989) in Media and Communication Studies from Bournemouth University.

Email: helenrana@yahoo.co.uk
Web: www.helenrana.com

Rosie Shute (Interviewer)

Rosie Shute is a Research Associate at the Digital Humanities Institute (DHI) at the University of Sheffield. She has recently completed her PhD in English Language and Linguistics in the School of English, University of Sheffield. Her research develops digital methods for analysing historical language, focusing in particular on the spelling variation in the texts printed by William Caxton (c. 1422-1492). Her other Research Associate work for the DHI explores the possible immersive services for the driverless cars, and used digital methods to explore YouTube comments as part of the project ‘Militarization 2.0’. For Beyond the Multiplex, Rosie will generate qualitative interview data for the project.

Email: rosie.shute@sheffield.ac.uk
Web: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/english/phd-study/current-phd-researchers/rosie-shute

Sarah Hargreaves (Interviewer)

Sarah Hargreaves (BA (hons), Msc, MA, PhD) is a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, in the Information School, and the School of Health and Related Research. Her current research projects are a Space for Sharing, an exploration of empathy in online health forums for Breast Cancer and Motor Neurone Disease; and research on health technologies for people living with frailty for the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare.

Sarah’s first degree was Ancient History and Classical Civilisation, where she studied one of the earliest forms of mass entertainment – theatre in Ancient Greece. She has a lifelong love of film, in childhood watching the black and white films on BBC 2, and later discovering the joy of independent cinema (the Tyneside cinema in Newcastle, and the Showroom in Sheffield).

Email: sarah.hargreaves@sheffield.ac.uk