Shadow Cinema: The Historical and Production Context of Unmade Films

Unmade films are a burgeoning area of scholarly inquiry. The rise of the film archive, from the Michael Klinger Papers and Hammer Archive, to the John Boorman Papers and Stanley Kubrick Archive, all have unearthed a treasure trove of abandoned or halted projects, left unmade for a range of industrial, cultural and political contexts. This also extends to unreleased cinema, those projects that were abandoned in pre-production, cut short in production, or simply never distributed, or removed from circulation.

Reconstructions and case studies of these hidden histories of the “shadow” cinema allow us to begin to understand the way in which directors, producers, writers, and film studios operate and the economic and industrial frameworks they work within. From Kubrick’s Napoleon – the greatest movie never made – to the array of failures or development nightmares by the likes of Terry Gilliam, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Hammer Studios, and more beside.

Dan North’s edited collection Sights Unseen…, as well as Harry Waldman’s Scenes Unseen… both make the case for unmade films consideration within the wider field of academia, but are specific in their subjects, with North focusing exclusively on Britain, and Waldman on a small selection of filmmakers. This collection aims to survey this new area of empirical study across transnational borders, and make a case for the importance of the unmade, unseen, and unknown history of cinema.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words are invited on this topic to form the proposal for Shadow Cinema, an edited collection that noted academic publishers has expressed interest in. Topics may include, but are by no means limited, to the following:

  • Unmade silent films
  • Unmade classical Hollywood
  • Abandoned or halted studio projects
  • Director case studies (Examples of directors attached to significant unmade projects include Francis Ford Coppola, Terry Gilliam, Sergio Leone, Lynne Ramsey, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Jocelyn Moorhouse)
  • Female directors / writers (as Shelley Cobb writes, ‘contemporary women filmmakers may very well disappear or end up under film history’s radar if we don’t write those histories now’. Case studies of unmade films by women filmmakers are often not considered, in favour of dominant male names such as Hitchcock)
  • International case studies / international cinema (projects such as the Chinese Empires of the Deep, still unreleased after almost a decade in post-production and with a budget close to $150 million)
  • Unmade / unreleased franchise films
  • Films that their creators / star attempt to keep hidden (Leonardo DiCaprio and the case of Don Plum)
  • Abandoned Adaptations
  • Legendary projects (Clair Noto’s The Tourist; Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon; Orson Welles’ adaptation of Heart of Darkness)
  • Abandoned collaborations between studios / directors / actors / writers etc (Stan Lee and Alain Resnais, for instance)

Please email abstracts, as well as a bio of no more than 100 words to both james.fenwick@dmu.ac.uk and kieran.foster@dmu.ac.uk by December 8th 2017.