Academy Film Scholars
Academy Film Scholars have received support for a wide range of research topics, from biographies of specific individuals who have had an impact on the movie industry, such as Lois Weber and Saul Bass, to broader film-related subjects, such as the evolution of color and the transition from silent to sound motion pictures. Many of the individuals selected as scholars, but not all, are professors or otherwise affiliated with a college or university.
Dr. Christopher Beach – 2012 Academy Film Scholar
Dr. Beach is an independent scholar currently based in Vermont. In The Image on the Screen: Directors, Cinematographers, and the Collaborative Process, the first book-length study focused on motion picture director-cinematographer collaborations, he will argue for the need to move beyond the auteurist paradigm and examine more closely the complex interaction between directors and other creative contributors.
Dr. Thomas Schatz – 2012 Academy Film Scholar
Dr. Schatz is the Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Chair of the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. He will complete a historical study of the American film industry in the period since the 1989 creation of Time-Warner and Sony-Columbia, which he has dubbed the “conglomerate age” in reference to the wave of mergers and acquisitions that transformed the movie industry.
Scott MacDonald – 2011 Academy Film Scholar
Scott MacDonald, professor of critical studies at Hamilton College, will examine the history of and analyze two particular forms of nonfiction filmmaking that have developed in Cambridge, MA: ethnographic filmmaking and personal documentary. The Cambridge Turn in Documentary Filmmaking will investigate why these developments occurred specifically in Cambridge and discuss the careers of such filmmakers as John Marshall, Robert Gardner, Timothy Asch, Ross McElwee, Robb Moss, Alfred Guzzetti, Nina Davenport, Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. The book will also explore how the accomplishments of these filmmakers have helped transform the understanding of "documentary" films.
Dan Streible – 2011 Academy Film Scholar
Dan Streible, associate professor of cinema studies at New York University, will offer a detailed account of the growth of the "orphan film" movement in the U.S. since the early 1990s and examine the resulting dynamic among film archivists, preservationists, scholars, curators and filmmakers. This book will be the first to analyze orphaned work (defined as films that have been abandoned or have suffered physical, historical or cultural neglect), including newsreels, silent movies, shorts, independent and studio features, documentaries, outtakes and animation. Streible's book will be titled Orphan Films: Saving, Studying, and Screening Neglected Cinema.
Cari Beauchamp – 2010 Academy Film Scholar
Cari Beauchamp, an independent film historian and the recipient of a 2004 Academy Film Scholars grant for her 2009 book Joseph P. Kennedy Presents, will research and write the first biography of actress Gloria Swanson. The book will explore Swanson's impact as an actress and producer on the development of film production and the culture at large as well as her off camera life as a mother of three who was married six times.
Patrick Keating– 2010 Academy Film Scholar
Patrick Keating, an assistant professor in the Communication Department at Trinity University, in San Antonio, TX, will offer a detailed account of how Hollywood films adopted and transformed the tools of the moving camera during the classical era. He will explore the influences of German cinema in the 1920s, the challenges of the transition to sound, the standardization of studio styles during the 1930s and the innovations of major filmmakers like Max Ophuls and Samuel Fuller in the 1940s and 50s, explaining how camera movement gave filmmakers new resources for the representation of modern space. Keating's book will be titled A Dynamic Frame: Camera Movement in Classic Hollywood Film.
Harlow Robinson – 2009 Academy Film Scholar
Harlow Robinson, a Matthews Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History and Program in Cinema Studies at Northeastern University, will delve into Oscar®-winning director Lewis Milestone’s 37-year career, during which he completed 38 feature films. The book will also examine Milestone’s contributions to a variety of film genres, including film noir, musical, comedy and war drama. Robinson’s book is tentatively titled Lewis Milestone: A Hollywood Career.
Peter Decherney – 2009 Academy Film Scholar
Peter Decherney, an assistant professor of English and cinema studies at the University of Pennsylvania, will tackle the film industry’s engagement with copyright law and digital media, in such areas as antipiracy campaigns, filmmakers’ rights, plagiarism, fair use and the legal environment for new technologies. The book will also demonstrate how Hollywood has responded to its intellectual property issues through self-regulation. Decherney’s book will be titled Hollywood’s Copyright Wars.
Anne Friedberg – 2008 Academy Film Scholar
Anne Friedberg, who served as chair of the Critical Studies Division in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, was to explore the life and work of Slavko Vorkapic, known throughout his career as Hollywood’s resident montage expert. Her book, Montage in Hollywood: The Cinematics of Slavko Vorkapic, was to examine Vorkapic’s comprehensive filmography as a special effects cinematographer and montage sequence unit director as well as how his work has influenced subsequent generations of film writers, directors and editors. Sadly Friedberg passed away in October 2009, before significant progress could be made on the project.
Peter Lev – 2008 Academy Film Scholar
Peter Lev, a professor of electronic media and film at Towson University in Maryland, will delve into the history of Twentieth Century-Fox during the three-decade period the studio was helmed by Darryl Zanuck and Spyros Skouras. The book will focus on both the studio’s Los Angeles-based production business and the New York-based distribution and exhibition business as well as the executives who ran them. It will also examine the contributions of the artists behind many of Fox’s successes including John Ford, Elia Kazan, Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, and Gregory Peck. Lev’s book will be titled Twentieth Century-Fox: The Zanuck-Skouras Years.
John Belton – 2007 Academy Film Scholar
John Belton, a Professor of Film in the English Department at Rutgers University, will write a book tracing the evolution of color in motion pictures, exploring its initial exploitation as spectacle and its association with fantasy and its subsequent development into a quasi-invisible tool of the narrative and its identification with greater realism. It will be titled From Paintbrush to Paintbox: A History of Motion Picture Color.
Richard Jewell – 2007 Academy Film Scholar
Richard Jewell, the Hugh M. Hefner Professor of American Film in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, will write a history of RKO Radio Pictures from the perspective of its leaders called RKO Radio Pictures: A Corporate History.
Jan-Christopher Horak – 2006 Academy Film Scholar
Jan-Christopher Horak, a visiting professor in the critical studies/archival training program at the University of California, Los Angeles, will write a biography of Saul Bass, a designer of movie posters, studio publicity materials, credits sequences and corporate logos, focusing on his influence on the motion picture industry. The book will be titled Saul Bass, Modernism and Movie Publicity.
David Edmund James – 2006 Academy Film Scholar
David Edmund James, a professor at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, will write his book on the interaction between rock ‘n’ roll and cinema in the United States and the United Kingdom beginning in the mid-1950s, through the “British Invasion” of the 1960s, to the eras of country, disco, punk, heavy metal, and hip-hop and rap. It will be called Rock ‘n’ Film: The Pop Musical in the United States and Britain since the 1950’s.
Stuart Liebman – 2005 Academy Film Scholar
Stuart Liebman, a professor in the department of media studies at Queens College of the City University of New York as well as a professor of theater and art history at the CUNY Graduate Center, will write a cultural history of the formative period of Holocaust cinema called Black Suns: Constellations of the Holocaust in World Cinema, 1944-1956.
Emily Thompson – 2005 Academy Film Scholar
Emily Thompson, an associate professor of history at the University of California, San Diego who also is an affiliated researcher at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at UCSD, will write a history of the transition to sound from the perspective of the technical workers whose work was transformed through the new technology. It will be titled Sound Effects: Technicians and the Talkies in the American Film Industry, 1925-1933.
Cari Beauchamp – 2004 Academy Film Scholar
Cari Beauchamp, a prolific writer of essays and articles about Hollywood’s past, will write a biography of Joseph P. Kennedy’s Hollywood career titled Joe Kennedy’s Hollywood. It will be Beauchamp’s fourth cinema history book.
Charles Musser – 2004 Academy Film Scholar
Charles Musser, co-chair of the film studies program and professor of American Studies and Film Studies at Yale University will complete a study of the changing approaches to “truth” in nonfiction film. His book will be titled Film Truth, Documentary Practice: A History.
Thomas Doherty – 2003 Academy Film Scholar
Thomas Doherty, chair of the Film Studies Program at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, will prepare a monograph exploring the life and legacy of Joseph l. Breen, who from 1934 until 1954 served as head of the Motion Picture Association of America’s Production Code Administration. The monograph will be entitled Joseph l. Breen: The Censor as Auteur.
Shelley Stamp – 2003 Academy Film Scholar
Shelley Stamp, associate professor in the Film and Digital Media Department at the University of California at Santa Cruz, will finish a book, Lois Weber in Early Hollywood, about the director, writer and actress who, at the height of her career in 1916, was, Stamp says, “a director of unparalleled stature.”
Dana Polan – 2002 Academy Film Scholar
Dana Polan, professor of critical studies at the School of Cinema and Television at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, is completing research he has been conducting on The Beginnings of American Film Study, examining the steps by which academia has been able to accept cinema as a subject worthy of study.
David Rodowick – 2002 Academy Film Scholar
David Rodowick, professor and chair in film studies at King’s College at the University of London, England, is undertaking a review of the replacement by digital technologies of almost every aspect of filmmaking and filmviewing over the past two decades, and the expected disappearance of celluloid film stock over the next decade, to be entitled The Virtual Life of Film.
Jane Gaines – 2001 Academy Film Scholar
Jane Gaines, director of the Program in Film and Video at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, is writing an overview of the critical and historical work done to date on women in the silent film industry, to be entitled Women Film Pioneers: Their Fictions, Their Histories.
Steven J. Ross – 2001 Academy Film Scholar
Steven J. Ross, professor of history at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, is examining the relationship between movies, movie stars and American political culture across the entire 20th century in Hollywood Left and Right: Movie Stars and Politics.
Tino Balio – 2000 Academy Film Scholar
Tino Balio, professor of film in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is writing a comprehensive institutional history of foreign films and their influence on American film culture entitled A Radically Different Cinema: Foreign Films in America, 1948 to the Present.
Donald Crafton – 2000 Academy Film Scholar
Donald Crafton, professor of communication and theatre at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, is undertaking an analysis of animated cartoon shorts from about 1928 to 1939 “to reveal the important social relevance underlying these superfically insignificant productions.” It will be titled Shadow of a Mouse: Animation and American Culture in the 1930s.