British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Digital Disruption

Secondly, the book is important in terms of how the academy teaches film studies in the contemporary era. It is important that students come away from degree courses in film at academic institutions with an ability to ‘read’ and perhaps also to make a film. But it is equally important that students understand the business of film. Indeed, when students have an understanding of the business of film – an approach that this book would endorse – then they come away from their universities with higher levels of employability – not least because as many if not more people are employed in the film industry’s administration than are employed in creative roles. If this book helps to make students more employable by giving them insight into the business and not just the theory of film, then this in turn can validate film studies courses beyond the still prominent perception that film students just sit around watching films all day long.

Digital Disruption is, as mentioned, timely and important …

In this sense, Digital Disruption is, for its faults, timely and groundbreaking – and I shall certainly be incorporating elements of it into my module on Digital Cinema that I have been running for the past four years – since it is precisely a text outlining the business of digital cinema that the module has been lacking.

St Andrews Film Studies is building a reputation for publishing books on topics not yet covered elsewhere – including on film festivals and, in work of my own with co-editor Dina Iordanova, on human trafficking and cinema. Digital Disruption is no exception. However, while this book does fill a gap in the study of film, there are slight issues that make it more of a ‘stop gap’ than a definitive landmark.

These, alas, are mainly issues relating to editing and copy-editing. The large numbers of typos and format issues suggest that Digital Disruption is a bit of a rushed job: a symptomatic example might be the way in which author Stuart Cunningham is referred to in the header of his essay with Jon Silver on online film distribution as Cunningham 16 separate times. Similarly, both essays and interviews published here can at times read like publicity material rather than probing enquiries. Given that much of my essay feedback tells my students – ad nauseam – that presentation and spelling are an important part of winning esteem and getting good marks, and that students should not replicate but question the hype surrounding films, then I personally feel that scholarly work such as this should set a positive – i.e. better – example.

That said, Digital Disruption is, as mentioned, timely and important – and I look forward to using it in my digital cinema class in the autumn. With a bit of luck, a second edition will improve the issues that mar its importance – making it the landmark rather than stop-gap tome that it could and perhaps should be.

Dr William Brown

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