From the cinema screen to the smartphone: A study of the impact of media convergence on the distribution sector of American independent cinema 2006 – 2010

Trowbridge, Hayley
From the cinema screen to the smartphone: A study of the impact of media convergence on the distribution sector of American independent cinema 2006 – 2010. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Film distribution has undoubtedly changed during this contemporary era of media convergence, with a range of innovative practices and methods being adopted across US film and the arrival of new organisations to the industry and distribution sector. This should not suggest that conventional distribution and marketing methods are extinct, or that the traditional gatekeepers of these fields are obsolete. Rather it should indicate a merging of old and new strategies, practices, methods, and organisations, and it is through this fusion of tradition and novelty that today’s complex distribution landscape has emerged. At the forefront of many of these changes has been American independent cinema and as such, the central question posed by this thesis is: how has media convergence impacted on the distribution and marketing of American independent cinema, and how can this impact be understood in terms of wider technological, industrial and sociocultural contexts relevant to the current media landscape? In answering this, this thesis provides a comprehensive re-mapping of the distribution sector of American independent cinema, in terms of the distributors involved and methods and strategies through which films are being released, within this contemporary era of media convergence. This thesis uses the concept of media convergence as a complex and multifaceted lens that has dimensions in the technological, industrial and sociocultural realms, through which recent innovations in film distribution and marketing can be examined. Underpinning this framework is the adoption of an approach informed by the emergent media industry studies agenda (Holt and Perren, 2009; Hilmes, 2013; and McDonald, 2013). The implementation of this converged method to understanding media industries has allowed for a fluid, diverse and multi-layered assessment of the area under examination. Specifically, the thesis uses Thomas Schatz’s (2009) macro and micro level framework to examining film industries in order to identify key trends and industrial practices within American independent cinema (and, to a degree, US film at large), exploring how they relate to specific films, filmmakers and companies, within a distribution context. From this a number of key findings have emerged, including: • The identification of a new industrial structure that has facilitated a form of re-conglomeration of parts of the American independent cinema that is similar to the co-option of American independent cinema in the late 1980s and early 1990s. • The identification of new, collaborative distribution and marketing strategies being used within American independent cinema that not only seek to connect films with consumers, but also involve them, to varying degrees, in related processes. • An outline and discussion on how changes within the distribution sector have impacted on film form and consumption practices evident in this era of convergence. The thesis provides original contributions to knowledge in the fields of American independent cinema and distribution studies at large by: reconceptualising what independent film is within this contemporary period of media convergence; reframing discussions on film distribution to be more inclusive and less elitist in their scope; providing new methodological approaches to understanding the wider workings of film distribution and marketing; and demonstrating how distribution studies can be utilised to understand innovations within the fields of film production and exhibition.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-04 (completed)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2015 13:24
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:33
DOI: 10.17638/02010341