Shadow Screens: Unmade, Unseen, Unreleased Film and Television

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
James Fenwick (Sheffield Hallam University) / Kieran Foster (University of Nottingham)
contact email: 

Two-day international conference, 23rd to 24th May 2022 to be held in person at Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK and online

Keynotes: To be confirmed


Dr James Fenwick ( Sheffield Hallam University)

Dr Kieran Foster ( University of Nottingham)

Unmade, unseen, and unreleased films and TV programmes are a burgeoning area of academic study, allowing for the excavation of hidden and lost histories, new insights and perspectives on structural barriers and inequalities in the media industries, and the reframing of the understanding of how the media industries operate. The film and television industries are built on a labour force that has largely worked on projects that were never, and will never, be made, whilst substantial amounts of investment and resource goes towards these unmade projects. The reasons contributing to the unmade are myriad and the industrial scale of these lost projects is staggering. The availability of new archival sources, alongside academic and popular interest, are driving this field of inquiry, which presents opportunities for rethinking film and television history and for the development of counter histories. At the same time, the appeal of ‘lost’ films is furthered by the discovery of unproduced screenplays. As well as books on Kubrick’s Napoleon and The Greatest Movies You’ll Never See, recent years have seen documentary films on ‘lost projects’ such as Lost in La Mancha (2002) and Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013), radio adaptations of unmade films like Welles’s Heart of Darkness, and stage readings of unproduced Hammer horrors such as Vampirella. There are also archives filled with audio-visual footage of outtakes, cuts, and unseen material of films that might have been. Even more tantalising are those archives containing films and television that have been unseen for many decades, lost to time and that have gone unrecorded in official histories.

Building on recent works on this topic, including the collection Shadow Cinema: The Historical and Production Contexts of Unmade Film (2020), this conference proposes to examine the unmade, unseen, and unreleased across the full spectrum of film, television, and other screen industries. How can we make sense of the unmade, unseen, and unreleased? How does it impact on current histories of film and television? What are the counter histories that can be constructed? And what does it reveal about the way the film and television industries operate?

We invite papers for submission on any aspect of unmade, unseen, and unreleased film, television, and other screen media. Suggested topics include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Gender / racial inequalities and unmade projects
  • Structural barriers and the unmade
  • The screenplay process: agents, script readers etc
  • The unmade as alternative media history
  • Archival approaches to the study of the unmade, unseen, and unreleased
  • Case studies of unrealised screenplays
  • Development hell
  • Methodologies for using unmade screenplays as a resource for scholarly research
  • Realisations of unmade projects
  • Outtakes and unused footage
  • Forgotten and unseen films
  • Fandom and unmade projects
  • The literary status of unproduced screenplays
  • Industrial perspectives
  • Creative failure
  • Other unmade screen industry projects i.e. videogames

Proposals for twenty-minute presentations to be emailed to Dr James Fenwick: and Dr Kieran Foster ( with a submission deadline of 31st January 2022. Abstracts should be no more than 250 words and include a 100-word biography.

Convenor biographies:

Dr Kieran Foster, is a teaching associate in film and television at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of the forthcoming monograph Hammer Goes to Hell: The House of Horrors Unmade Films  and co-editor of Shadow Cinema (2020) and Studying the Unmade, Unseen, Unreleased: Theories, Methods, Histories (forthcoming, Intellect).

Dr James Fenwick, senior lecturer in Department of Media Arts and Communication at Sheffield Hallam University. Author of Stanley Kubrick Produces (2020) and Unproduction Studies and the American Film Industry (2021) and co-editor of Shadow Cinema (2020) and Studying the Unmade, Unseen, Unreleased: Theories, Methods, Histories (forthcoming, Intellect).

There will be a small delegate fee for attendees.

Standard delegate fee: £35
Postgraduate colleagues: £15