Distributors, Discs and Disciples: Exploring the Home Media Renaissance
23rd May 2015, University of Worcester
Distribution is often been seen as the “invisible link” in the media industry, in terms of facilitating how films, television shows and other texts reach audiences. The rise of digital platforms, such as online rental services and bit torrents, recently changed this view and digital distribution is the focus of several recent publications. However, there has not been a mass shift towards purely digital media, and physical media releases are still sought out by fans and consumers. Special editions and box-sets for DVDs and Blu-Rays are frequently hyped up on social media, and from many countries around the world. Past formats also make for collectible items, such as VHS, Laserdisc, and HD-DVD. Terminology related to physical media hugely affects perceptions of exhibition and consumption, such as ‘box-sets’, ‘binge-watching’, and ‘marathon’.
Distributors have been recognised as the ones making all this possible. Media distribution labels often promote their own actions; or their actions are reported on by critics and journalists; or fans and consumers directly respond to their releases and related activities. Such activity takes place within a variety of contexts – from film festivals to conventions and Q&A sessions; from social media, to dedicated websites and themed public attractions. This also occurs in relation to a variety of media texts – from newer releases to older titles; from films previously unavailable, to those regularly watched and celebrated by many.
The result of the raising of the profile of distributors has been a Home Media Renaissance. This exists not only as an alternative to online digital media exhibition options, but as one that occurs alongside them. In addition to the recent academic study of legitimate and illegitimate methods of online downloading and streaming, the simultaneous desire to own physical media is prevalent.
The aim of this symposium is to discuss and debate how and why distributors are becoming so prolific in an increasingly digital age. Is this activity a reaction to shifts towards downloading and streaming? Are consumers increasingly attracted to these forms of media, or are distributors desperate to maintain their interest? Can it last?
Case studies and observations of particular titles are encouraged – whether they are films, television shows, or other media – and concern a particular genre, national context, authorship figure, or other categorisation. This can take the shape of a 20 minute paper, or a shorter presentation – for example, as part of a panel of lightning talks or speed-geeking.
Other potential topics could cover, but are not limited to:
Home Media Formats
Fandom (e.g. social media, blogs, communities and groups, etc)
Marketing and Promotion
Creativity and Production within Distribution and Marketing
Critical Reception and Other Reactions
Awards and Recognition
All topics proposed will also be eligible for inclusion within an edited collection. The subject of the symposium has already gained early interest from some publishers.
Proposals should be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals should be no more than 200 words, with a brief biographical statement (100 words) attached. The deadline for these is 30th January 2015. Decisions of acceptance will be sent out by the end of February/early March. There will be the opportunity to extend the length of the symposium, and potentially host it at a different location, depending on the number of proposals.
Dr Jonathan Wroot
Sessional Lecturer, Film Studies,
Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts,
University of Worcester.
PhD awarded by UEA