This article reveals how screenwriter Stephen Volk‘s idea for a sequel to The Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton) became, over the course of fifteen years, the British horror film The Awakening (2011, Nick Murphy). It examines practitioner interviews to reflect on creative labour in the British film industry, while also reorientating the analysis of British horror film to the practices of pre-production, specifically development. The research reveals that female protagonist Florence Cathcart was a major problem for the project and demonstrates how the Florence character changed throughout the development process. Repeatedly rewritten and ultimately restrained by successive male personnel, her character reveals persistent, problematic perceptions of gender in British horror filmmaking.
Cecil Court is a small pedestrian passageway in the London Borough of Westminster. Under its more famous name of Flicker Alley, it is also the mythic birthplace and romantic heart of the early British film industry. This essay sets aside romantic myths and adopts the economic theory,of agglomeration, using the film businesses moving in and out of Cecil Court as a case study to demonstrate the changing patterns within the industry. In doing so it charts the growth patterns and expansion of the British film industry from 1897 to 1911. It shows its development from its origins,in equipment manufacture, through to production and finally to rental and cinema building and outfitting, marking the transition from its small-scale artisan-led beginnings into a large and complex network of distinct but interlocking film businesses.
The article notes a trend towards low-key naturalism in twenty-first-century independent queer cinema. Focusing on work by Andrew Haigh, Travis Mathews and Ira Sachs, it argues that this observational style is welded to a highly meta-cinematic engagement with traditions of representing non-straight people. The article coins the term ‘New Gay Sincerity’ to account for this style, relating it to Jim Collins’s and Warren Buckland’s writing on post-postmodern ‘new sincerity’. At its crux, this new style centres itself in realism to record non-metropolitan, intimate and quotidian gay lives, while acknowledging the high-style postmodernism of oppositional 1990s New Queer Cinema.
Although film renting began in Britain in London, the rapid spread of cinemas after 1910 meant that there was a demand for distribution closer to the sites of exhibition. As a long-established trading centre, Manchester was well placed to become the hub for Northern distribution, and local trade directories list distributors from 1912 onwards. These clustered at first near Victoria Station, but soon moved to Deansgate, as independent distributors began to outnumber branch offices of the major companies. The life-expectancy of these was short, and the First Worlds War affected their business, but they remain an important and under-researched aspect of the early British cinema business.
In this interview with Mia Bays (Birds’ Eye View), we discuss the recent Reclaim The Frame project, a UK-wide touring programme that showcases female-directed or -scripted films, usually new or recent releases. The interview explores the idea that this kind of curation is a necessary feminist intervention in the contemporary British cinema circuit, one that offers audiences agency and acknowledges that initiatives in film production alone are not sufficient to shift structural inequalities in the film industry. The piece begins with some contextual detail before turning to my discussion with Bays.