Lights! Kamera! Azione!: The Languages of International Productions - NECS 2011 (Deadline: January 10)

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European Network for Cinema and Media Studies
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CFP for panel at the 2011 Eurpean Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS) Conference: London - June 23-26, 2011

Production processes in film, and especially the collaborative work of crews on the set, have been always dependent on continual, repetitive and informal communication, be it via face-to-face interaction, liaisons or over technologies such as walkie-talkies and megaphones. For long hours, teams of highly interdependent workers are immersed in a specific organizational environment under extreme time constraints and isolated from the outside world. To accomplish their complex tasks, they have to develop techniques of swift trust, real-time coordination, sharing and learning from each other. All of this is complicated when different languages are spoken by different groups of professionals with distinct organizational cultures (e.g. by American above-the-line talent and European below-the-line crews). That's why co-productions and runaway productions require special mediators – multilingual collaborators, translators, or local production-service providers – which help not only to reach mutual linguistic understanding, but also to negotiate common structure of roles and responsibilities. In different historical moments and in different regions around the world, international productions were sites where distinct modes of practice were spread, emulated and hybridized, while language was just one aspect of these processes.

Reflecting the NECS conference theme of "the cultural dynamics of language in screen media," this panel seeks to examine the role of languages in the filmmaking process of international productions. More specifically, this panel would like to address the questions: What languages have been spoken during the preparation and on the sets of international co-productions? How have filmmakers and technicians negotiated language differences? Has multi-language proficiency been a necessary skill to work on these films and on which positions? Has language affected production practices and organization? And finally, what does the nature of the languages in these productions tell us about the economic, political, industrial and aesthetic dimensions of transnational production?

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:
- The role of translators and foreign dialogue coaches
- The language training of cast and crew
- Power relations and professional hierarchies in regard to language
- On-set communication and intercultural dynamics
- Nonverbal interaction: expressing by action, learning by doing, observation, imitation, tacit knowledge
- Negotiating the language of technical terminology and definitions of job roles
- Historical cases of production systems that were spread, translated, emulated and resisted in other countries: Hollywood, German, Russian, etc.
- Platforms and techniques to translate and mediate between different production cultures (professional conferences, excursions, internships, exchanges of personnel, headhunting).
- The language of production materials (e.g. scripts, production reports, correspondence)
- Investigations of specific multilingual filmmakers, producers or technicians
- The process of shooting multi-language films
- Textual analysis focusing on traces that the process of transnational cooperation left in the final film.
- Risks and transaction costs of runaway productions related to long distances between sites of physical production and centers of command and control.

We encourage proposals examining topics from throughout cinema history, addressing diverse languages, and involving productions from around the world. While not a requirement, we are interested in approaches that draw on historiographic methodologies and archival research.

Send a 150-word max abstract (including 3-5 bibliographical references) and a short biography to Petr Szczepanik ( and Daniel Steinhart ( Deadline: January 10, 2011. Submitters will be notified by January 16.

For info on NECS and the London conference, visit:

Petr Szczepanik
Associate Professor
Masaryk University

Daniel Steinhart
Ph.D. Candidate
University of California, Los Angeles