Conference call for papers:

‘Weddings and Funerals: UK Screen Industries in a Global Context, 1994-2024’, 13-14th June 2024

A 2-day conference organised by the Centre for Converged Screen Media and Entertainment (COSME), Department of Communication and Media, University of Liverpool, 13-14 June 2024

Keynote Speakers:
Dr Kay Dickinson (University of Glasgow, author of Supply Chain Cinema: Producing Global Film Workers, 2024)
Roger Shannon (Producer and Former Head of BFI Production Board, Former Head of the Moving Image Development Agency and Former Head of Production Department, UK Film Council)

Looking at the last 30 years (1994-2024), this 2-day conference will examine the ways the UK screen industries were integrated into the structures of global media production, distribution and exhibition/retail, and how important shifts whose origins can be mapped to that point in time have had a lasting and significant legacy. In doing this, the event aims to provide a thorough account of the multiple, complex and diverse ways in which the UK screen industries participated in an increasingly globalised, converged and highly unpredictable media landscape over the past 30 years.

Covering film, television, gaming, transmedia franchising and sports, it will also consider the ways elements of these came to intersect and redefine the UK entertainment context. It will bring together scholars with an interest in media industries research and practitioners who were involved in developments in the UK screen industries to explore this history from various vantage points.

In 1994 the global success of Four Weddings and a Funeral launched a new era for the British film industry. The companies involved in the film’s production (PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title and Channel Four Films) quickly became key players in the global film industry, participating in a huge number of productions and collaborating with foremost media players, such as StudioCanal and Universal, as well as companies that were key players in a thriving indie/specialty film in the United States (Miramax, Fox Searchlight and Focus Features).

1994 also saw the development of the Leavesden Aerodrome into a film studio by James Bond producer EON for GoldenEye (1995), a facility that was then used by Lucasfilm for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999) and the Harry Potter films (2001-2011). Warner Bros. bought the facility outright in 2010 and turned it to both an exhibition space for the Harry Potter franchise and a major working studio that has hosted Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), Wonder Woman (2017), Barbie (2023) and Wonka (2023).

Also in 1994, Pearson Television started its corporate journey to become FremantleMedia, following its takeover of Thames TV a year earlier; a journey that would involve global partners such as entertainment conglomerate Bertelsmann and (part-)ownership of internationally successful formats as …Idol, X Factor and …Got Talent. Furthermore, Sky Sports launched its second channel Sky Sports 2 to meet a staggering demand for sports on television amidst rising SKY subscribers. It continues to dominate sports television in the UK, withstanding competition from globally operating streaming and telecommunications companies.

Finally, 1994 saw Sony Computer Entertainment Europe opening its London branch, making the UK a key region of its global operations in time for the release of the first PlayStation console. Sports Interactive, a London-based games development company found immediate global success with Championship Manager and Football Manager, eventually becoming a subsidiary of Sega, the Japanese videogame and entertainment conglomerate.

Taking this 30-year period as its time span, this conference will explore recent UK screen industries histories in a global context, with a view to understanding:

  • the business strategies the main companies in film, TV and videogames utilised, and the kinds of business deals being made
  • the ways they marked their presence as part of co-productions and other collaborative arrangements
  • the power dynamics involved in their dealings with major global players, such as the Hollywood studios, the main streaming platforms and videogame giants, such as Nintendo and Microsoft
  • their sources of finance within an ever-changing media production landscape
  • the production and distribution practices they developed to make their product globally appealing
  • the ways in which they helped shape the trajectory of media labour in the UK and the questions of diversity and equality such a trajectory entailed
  • the ways they impacted the development of media policies in the UK
  • their relationship with the UK government and key institutions overseeing the development of screen industries in the UK (DCMS, Ofcom, BFI, etc)
  • the regulatory frameworks imposed by the various governments and administrations during the period
  • their place in cultural and creative industries discourses as these started to develop in the 1990s
  • the ways they contributed to a converging media landscape in the UK and beyond
    the successes and failures they had and the ways these shaped the key screen industries sectors in the country
  • the ways the UK screen industries are looking into the future as we approach the midpoint of the third decade of the 21st century.

We are inviting

  • proposals of up to 300 words, accompanied by a bio of up to 50 words
  • pre-constituted panels of up to 3 speakers, with each panel proposal consisting of a panel topic accompanied by an abstract of up to 200 words as well as abstracts for each of the three presentations and bio details of up to 50 words for each speaker
  • pre-constituted round table workshops of up to 4 speakers, with each workshop consisting of a workshop topic, accompanied by an abstract of up to 200 words, abstracts of up to 100 words on the aspect of the workshop each speaker will contribute to and bio details of up to 50 words for each speaker

Please send your proposals to by 24 March 2024.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Liverpool.
Sarah Thomas and Yannis Tzioumakis
Co-directors of COSME: the Centre for Converged Screen Media and Entertainment and Conference Organisers