Room: 1.014.4 (House 7)
My research focuses on the changing nature of the film industry and is positioned at the intersection of Film Studies and Media Industry Studies. It provides a spotlight on film distribution and film exhibition as rapidly developing research areas in the context of the digital revolution. I am particularly interested in the role of gatekeepers who exert control over the process of enabling and disabling access to films in international markets.
Current research project
I joined Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF in autumn 2019 to undertake the research project “Online Platforms and Film Circulation”. Drawing on in-depth analysis of online platforms, expert interviews and audience research, the project examines how VOD platforms engage with and support non-mainstream, specialised films to exploit their potential in the online market. I have been awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by Postdoc Network Brandenburg to undertake this project.
More information about my project is available here.
I have been a researcher for various major research projects in the past six years:
- Beyond the Multiplex: Audiences for Specialised Film in English Regions, funded by AHRC (UK). It is the first major study to analyse how non-mainstream, specialised films can reach diverse film audiences in regions outside London.
- Screen Agencies as Cultural Intermediaries: Negotiating and Shaping Cultural Policy for the Film and TV Industries within Selected Small Nations, funded by AHRC (UK). It is the first major study that draws a comparison between screen agencies in small European nations.
- Mediating Cultural Encounters Through European Screens (MeCETES), funded by HERA (Europe). It was the first major study to provide much-needed insight in the production, distribution and consumption of European films and television series.
I completed my PhD in Film Studies at the University of York (2013-2017) and subsequently worked as post-doctoral researcher at the University of York (2018) and Cardiff University (2019).
Academic book publication
- Smits, R.(2019).Gatekeeping in the Evolving Business of Independent Film Distribution. Monograph. Palgrave Global Media Policy and Business book series. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 278 pp. (peer-reviewed). https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783030168957
Academic journal articles and contributions to edited collections
Hanchard, M., Merrington, P., Wessels, B., Rogers, K., Pidd, M., Yates, S., Forrest, D., Higson, A., Townsend, N., and Smits. R. (2020). Developing a Computational Ontology to Understand the Relational Aspects of Audience Formation. Emerald Open Research, 2(5), pp. 1-17. (peer-reviewed, open access). https://doi.org/10.35241/emeraldopenres.13465.1
- Wessels, B., Forrest, D., Hanchard, M., Higson, A., Merrington, P., Pidd, M., Rogers, K., Smits, R., Townsend, N., and Yates, S. (2019). Using Mixed-Methods, a Data Model and a Computational Ontology in Film Audience Research. Cultural Trends, 28(2-3), pp. 118-131. Special issue about Audience Data and Research. (peer-reviewed). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09548963.2019.1617934
- Smits, R. and Nikdel, E.W. (2018). Beyond Netflix and Amazon: MUBI and the Curation of On-Demand Film. Studies in European Cinema, 16(1), pp. 22-37. Special issue about Corporate Agency in Contemporary European Cinema. (peer-reviewed). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17411548.2018.1554775
- Smits, R. (2018) Tournaments of Values at the European Film Market. Arts and the Market, 8 (1), pp. 64-79. (peer-reviewed). https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/AAM-01-2018-0001
- Smits, R., Higson, A., Mateer, J., Jones, H.D. and D’Ippolito, B. (2018). Distributing Films Online. Workshop report. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 15:2, April 2018, pp.291-299. https://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/jbctv.2018.0419
- Smits, R. (2017). Film Distribution: A Changing Business. In: J. Wroot and A. Willis (Eds.). DVD, Blu-Ray and Beyond: Navigating Formats and Platforms within Media Consumption. Palgrave Macmillan, 115-134. http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319627571#aboutAuthors
- Smits, R. (2016). Gatekeeping and Networking Arrangements: Dutch Distributors in the Film Distribution Business. Poetics, 58, pp.29-42. (peer-reviewed) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304422X16302017
Blogs, interviews and other publications (open access)
I am keen to make an impact beyond the academy, and have contributed to various industry reports, media articles and blogs:
- ‘Coronavirus: How Hollywood Studios and Online Video Platforms are Responding’ [link]. Flow Journal, 21 April 2020.
- ‘Sales Agents and Distributors Remain Equally – if not more – Important to the Creation and Circulation of Films in International Markets’ [link]. Interviewed by Cineuropa, 23 March 2020.
- ‘Video-on-Demand and the Myth of Endless Choice' [link]. The Conversation, 16 August 2018.
- ‘UK Film Distribution: What’s Changing?’ (co-written with Huw Jones & Andrew Higson), [link]. MeCETES pre-conference report, June 2016.
- Several blog posts for Cineuropa [link]
- Several blog posts for MeCETES [link]
I have developed a network of industry connections and have been invited to participate as a speaker and moderator in several industry events organised by Creative Europe (EU), Film Expo South (UK) and the LIGHTS Frankfurt International Film Festival (DE). I have also contributed as a consultant and researcher to a Creative Europe report about film distribution.
I am a reviewer for Poetics, Routledge and Bloomsbury Publishing.