UPDATE: Sights Unseen: Unfinished British Films (11/1/04; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Dan North
contact email: 

Call For Papers: 'Sights Unseen: Unfinished British Films' (Essay Collection)

UPDATE: Deadline for Proposals Extended to 1st November 2004

This is a call for contributions to a proposed collection on British films
which, for a variety of reasons, did not make it to the screen. John Hill in
British Cinema in the 1980s (1999) focused his attention on "how texts are
activated in relation to specific socio-historical contexts and, therefore,
how particular films may be read in relation to the specific circumstances in
which they were first produced and circulated." This project seeks to recover
the stories of films which have never had chance to be semiotically or
culturally productive. They exist only as production contexts, with no
finished, consumable text to validate those efforts.

Since large numbers of indigenous films never receive theatrical distribution,
it seems particularly apt to include in the historical profile of British
cinema some of those productions which have never been exposed to public
scrutiny and reflection, which have never been able to contribute to the
nationally reflective role that cinema aspires to play. However, this project
is not about unreleased films, but about films which were never shot, or whose
shooting was never completed. In British Cinema in Documents (2000), Sarah
Street argues for a conception of film studies which includes a greater focus
on "non-filmic sources." This book will assess the significance of a variety
of "non-filmic films," constructing their histories through their production

I'm interested particularly in unfinished films of all genres from the 1890s
to the present day, but I'm also open to stories of unrealised projects by key
British directors, lost/destroyed negatives, severe censorship cases,
financial constraints or distribution blockages. The fragility of Britain's
structures of film production means that, in order to understand the factors
which undermine them, it is essential to look at those texts whose passage
from page to screen was ultimately thwarted. Most film-makers who have
archived their business papers will have kept the residual documents left
behind from an aborted project, so I would especially like to hear from
archivists and historians with privileged access to the kinds of vestigial
traces through which incomplete films can be reconstructed as historical
texts. It is through archived collections that these texts can be revivified
from their remaining fragments, whether they are script drafts, production
notes or surviving footage.

Abstracts of 200-300 words, plus a brief c.v. should be sent by e-mail
(d.r.north_at_exeter.ac.uk) or by post to:

Dr Dan North
School of English/The University of Exeter
The Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture
The Old Library
Prince of Wales Road

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Received on Wed Sep 08 2004 - 19:13:11 EDT