NOT the British New Wave: 5 ‘kitchen sink’ dramas the critics never talk about

Laura Mayne, University of York

15 August 2017

The dozen or so films produced between 1959 and 1963 that we think of as belonging to the ‘New Wave’ cycle captured the intellectual spirit behind Lindsay Anderson’s Free Cinema movement of the 50s and seemed to hint to the continent that British cinema, to reference the famous quote by Francois Truffaut, was not, in fact, an oxymoron. Often adapted from popular novels and plays of the Angry Young Men of late 50s literature and theatre, these films brought jarring images of working class life to a stuffy and conservative national cinema. In a sea of cosy army comedies, high-handed historical dramas and predictable crime thrillers, they stood out. Room at the Top was followed by a series of aesthetically innovative, socially relevant dramas which are widely considered to be great classics: Look Back in Anger (1959), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) A Taste of Honey (1961) A Kind of Loving (1962), L-Shaped Room (1962) Billy Liar (1963) and This Sporting Life (1963).

It goes without saying that the impetus behind the New Wave cycle was commercial, although it is also worth remembering that in the film industry the distinction between the commercial and the artistic is rarely clear-cut: producers are not just money-men, and by branding them as such we strip nuance from a complex industrial process. Nevertheless, for all its lasting cultural influence the New Wave can still be taken as an example of how the commercial film industry self-replicates. Room at the Top dominated the box-office charts in 1959 and showed that audiences wanted gritty themes, confrontational drama and intelligent social commentary.

The enthusiasm with which some producers sought to emulate the ‘kitchen sink’ style in response to this demand recalls that old saying about film being the only industry in which last year’s models are considered to be better that next year’s. A crass generalisation, sure, but here’s a brief example to illustrate the point: in 1962 the producer Raymond Stross was trying to convince the small distributor Garrick of the profitability of a new project titled ‘The Leather Boys’. In his correspondence to the company he wrote:

With every respect in the world …I believe that ‘you are not with it’! If you do not like this script you must have equally disliked the three big winners of recent time, “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning”, “A Kind of Loving”, and “A Taste of Honey”, the profits from which will substantially exceed one million pounds…  the world is crying out for teenage stories.

But as the film critic Alexander Walker noted, in that same year the phrase ‘New Wave’ had begun to enter industry parlance: always a bad sign. By 1963 it was all over. This Sporting Life, though considered to be one of the greatest achievements of the New Wave, was nowhere near as successful at the box office as its producers had hoped it might be.

In the canon of British cinema the New Wave films sit somewhere near the fuse: they are some of the most studied, most referenced and critically acclaimed texts of all time. But we shouldn’t forget how influential the cycle was then as well as now. In the early 60s the success of the New Wave rippled through the industry and its influence can be seen across a number of films at the level of production style. The following list offers examples of films which seem to emulate the defining characteristics of New Wave cinema, but were unsuccessful at the box office for a variety of reasons: some were just a little late to the party, some were seen as low-budget ‘programmers’ or B movies (and thus instantly forgettable), but none have managed to command very much in the way of column space or academic study.

1. The Leather Boys (Sidney J. Furie, 1963/4)

The timing of The Leather Boys was simply unfortunate. Scheduled for release in 1963, the film was held back by an industrial dispute and remained stuck in the distributor’s vaults until 1964, by which the social problem film was looking a bit ‘square’. The 60s was characterised by trends which exploded onto the scene and were passé within a few years and, given that a film could take two years from pre-production to the screen, some producers found it difficult to keep up.

Still, The Leather Boys is an exceptionally interesting film and had it been released in 1963 it could very well have become part of the New Wave cycle. The film follows Dot (Rita Tushingham) and Reg (Colin Campbell) a cockney young couple who get married and quickly become disillusioned with each other. Reggie grows close with his friend Pete, who begins to develop feelings for him and is revealed at the end of the film to be gay. Based on the 1961 book by Mary Ann Evans (published under the pseudonym Eliot George) the film plays down the book’s homosexual romance storyline but perhaps it would still have been controversial enough to stir up a fuss if it had reached cinemas a few years earlier, around the time of Basil Dearden’s Victim (1961). Sadly, despite the presence of Rita ‘A Taste of Honey’ Tushingham as its major selling point, The Leather Boys never really found a wide audience.

2. This is My Street (Sidney Hayers, 1964)

Many of the films in this list are set in a pre-swinging London rather than northern England, but like the New Wave films they tend to rely heavily on location to conjure up a sense of claustrophobia and entrapment. This is My Street is set in Battersea and follows the story of Margery Graham, a working class housewife who feels crushed at the prospect of a tedious future in the place where she grew up with a husband she despises. She has an affair with her mother’s womanising lodger Harry (Ian Hendry) and then attempts suicide when his affections dissipate.

The film presents a London in the throes of post-war reconstruction, and the streets are littered with debris and half-bombed buildings. The Radio Times called it ‘a well-written, nicely shot squalor fest’ while Alt-Movie was more unfair, dubbing it an ‘unsavoury British programmer’. In reality this is a nicely shot film (and June Ritchie is always a delight), but it’s just a shame that its interesting social themes (prostitution, unhappy marriage, lack of social mobility) become subservient to the rather hysterical melodrama of the plot.

3. That Kind of Girl (Gerry O’Hara, 1963)

At this point I feel like I need to ask the reader to bear with me. Anyone who has had the dubious privilege of having seen it will know That Kind of Girl as an early sexploitation film rather than a ‘kitchen sink’ drama. But the low-budget exploitation flicks produced by people like Michael Klinger and Tony Tenser deserve a bit of attention for their willingness to tackle taboo social issues. That Kind of Girl was (I’m fairly sure) the first British fiction film to deal with the issue of venereal disease. An exotic European au-pair girl comes to (you guessed it) London and strikes up affairs with a couple of men before contracting syphilis and shamefacedly resigning her position.

Production company Compton was so keen to give That Kind of Girl the veneer of establishment respectability that they sought an endorsement from the British Medical Association (this appears in the first frame of the film, in large letters). The company used the same tactic with The Yellow Teddybears (1963), using that film (about underage sex and teenage abortion) to start a national debate about sex education. In a way, Compton was trying to tackle the same social issues evident in films like A Taste of Honey, just without the same budget, artistic finesse or cultural respectability.

4. The Little Ones (Jim O’Connolly, 1964)

Like Vernon Sewell’s The Wind of Change (1961) The Little Ones is a B movie which tackles themes of race and immigration at a time when both were hot political issues but virtually ignored on cinema screens. Unlike The Wind of Change, The Little Ones was never reclaimed from the bottom half of the British cinema programme, and has been virtually unseen for more than 50 years.

The film is about two young friends, Jackie and Ted, who decide to run away from home. Ted lives with his family in one room in a particularly decrepit part of London’s East End. His mother beats him regularly. Jackie’s prostitute mother treats him with ambivalence and his father, a Jamaican immigrant, left years ago. The boys spend their time dreaming of far away, exotic lands (‘why would anyone want to come here?’ Ted asks in disbelief). They decide to stow away in a removal van to Liverpool and from there catch the first boat to Jamaica.

This is a realist film shot in parts with a shaky handheld camera for that added bit of verisimilitude. This film moves from gritty, derelict London to Liverpool, and in a departure from the usual archetype Liverpool is shown here to be the more affluent city. When the boys go on a petty crime spree to obtain food for their journey they are painstakingly pursued and finally collared by a local police inspector who sits them down to give them a good talking to. The policeman loses his temper with Jackie and blurts out ‘don’t talk to me like that you little n…’. He then stops, and visibly deflates. This moment of racial intolerance is apparently at odds with the inspector’s view of himself as a progressive liberal. Jackie is nonplussed: he is used to this treatment. This is a powerful moment in a film which seems caught between being a serious social commentary and a whimsical comedy in the vein of a Children’s Film Foundation feature.

5. The Family Way (Roy and John Boulting, 1966)

Steve Hawley argues that The Family Way lies on the boundary between the kitchen sink and the Swinging Sixties, and in many ways more accurately reflects how the decade was probably experienced in the regions outside London. The Family Way was produced and directed by the Boulting Brothers and adapted for the screen by Bill Naughton (Alfie, Spring and Port Wine) who also wrote the play. Hayley Mills plays Jenny Fritton, a young girl newly married to the shy and sensitive Arthur. Arthur and Jenny are unable to consummate their marriage because both feel too pressured to have sex by their family and neighbours, and Arthur becomes a local laughing stock as a result.

This is far from a lost ‘B’ (and there’s a lot more to the production of the film than I have time to go into here!) but it isn’t as well-known as it could be. The film straddles what Robert Murphy calls the ‘mid-decade divide’ and falls somewhere between social realism and the more permissive sexual mores of the Swinging London films (this sort of makes sense when you realise that the play was actually written 5 years before the film was released).

Of course, this all begs the question of what exactly characterises a British New Wave film. One common tendency is to throw out labels like ‘gritty’ and ‘kitchen sink’, and these are problematic because they are so very vague (in general they refer to ‘real’ representations of working class domestic life, but this could be applied to a huge number of British films and TV dramas). The word ‘realism’ also has a multiplicity of meanings and is one of the most contested terms among humanities scholars.

But it’s worth noting that academics don’t hold the monopoly on how we define British New Wave cinema. In online criticism Sons and Lovers, the D. H. Lawrence adaptation set in a small mining town, is sometimes cited as being part of ‘New Wave’ and sometimes not. This is also the case with The Entertainer, the 1960 Woodfall film which stars Laurence Olivier as a third-rate music hall star. As part of their recent ‘The  Brit New Wave: From Angry Young Men to Swinging London’ season the New York Film forum screened The Entertainer, Girl With Green Eyes and The Leather Boys. They also screened The Pumpkin Eater, Jack Clayton’s wonderfully complex tale about a woman facing a mid-life crisis. The Wikipedia entry titled ‘British New Wave’ includes references to J Lee Thompson’s 1959 film Tiger Bay and Val Guest’s 1960 crime thriller Hell is a City (which seems like a bit of a stretch). I suppose what this tells us is that the British film canon is constantly shifting; its boundaries are continually being re-negotiated, and it is this process of negotiation which is important to a healthy film scholarship.


Dr Laura Mayne is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of York. She completed her PhD in 2014 as part of the AHRC “Channel 4 and British Film Culture” project, which was led by Professor Justin Smith at the University of Portsmouth. She is currently one of the postdocs on the AHRC Transformation and Tradition in Sixties British Cinema project, run between the universities of York and East Anglia. The project conference, “British Cinema in the 1960s: Histories and Legacies” will be held at the BFI Southbank next month. You can register for the conference here: [link]

https://pure.york.ac.uk/portal/en/researchers/laura-mayne(3200ceac-bffe-4a0d-9acf-3745f21d11d6).html

 

How To Get Published In An Academic Journal

Emma Grylls, Taylor & Francis

10 August 2017


Submitting to an academic journal can be daunting if you have not done it before – or even if you have!

There are of course many other outlets for your work, including blogs, debates, conference panels and social media. But a journal with a good reputation is a recognized vehicle for research and will have a network of scholars around it (and you can still make use of other outlets if you choose this option).

This blog will focus on how to publish a journal article, and things to consider along the way…

1. Think about why you are doing it

Publishing a journal article can be a lot of work, so it’s a good idea to think first about why you are doing it. So why publish? Well, it enables you to stake your claim to your ideas and the importance of your work. This could be important for your future career. It’s also a way to join a conversation with other scholars in your field and to give others across the globe a chance to encounter your ideas.

2. Consider what you have to say

Think about your ideas and what you want to focus on. Do you have something new and original to say? Is it potentially useful? If the answer to one or both of these is yes, then it’s likely to be of interest to other scholars! If, on the other hand, you are already yawning as you set pen to paper, please rethink: remember, you could be working on this for quite some time, and you will have a hard time getting others engaged in your ideas if you are already boring yourself stiff as you write…

3. Choose the right journal

I’d recommend choosing your journal in the early stages. Check its reputation with your peers and your supervisor or mentor. Speak to people who have published in the journal – what has their experience been? Check that it has a robust peer review policy, too, as this is a key indicator of quality.

If in doubt, you can use Think. Check. Submit., a set of tools to help you check that you are submitting your article to a respected journal from a reputable publisher.

Overall, ask yourself: is this journal a good fit for your research, and will it help you reach your target audience?

4. Do your homework

Now it’s time to read some back issues, to familiarize yourself with the scope of the journal as well as points of style. This is in no way to dilute your own individual voice and perspective, but simply to ensure that your paper will be ‘in scope’ and to save yourself time re-formatting it further down the line.

All journals have an ‘aims & scope’ statement and an ‘instructions for authors’ or ‘instructions for contributors’ page. Do read these carefully to be sure you understand the remit of the journal and all the nitty gritty, such as word limits! For all Taylor & Francis journals, you can navigate to these pages from the journal homepage:

5. Keep the end goal in mind

Once you have chosen your journal and done your homework, it’s time to bring it back to the bigger picture again. What is your overall purpose for publishing? Who are you writing for? Keeping your audience in mind – whether that’s researchers, practitioners or the general public – will help you to stay focused and tailor your approach.

You may be reworking an existing piece of work, such as a blog post, a conference paper or a PhD chapter. Make sure you adapt your piece in terms of style, methodology and length as needed – don’t just copy and paste! A PhD chapter could be 15-20,000 words, whereas a typical journal article might be 8-10,000 words – that’s a lot of cutting down. If you are planning on adapting a chapter from your PhD thesis, be sure to check your institution’s guidelines first.

6. Check your author ethics

Always reference your own work (as well as anyone else’s work) if you have referred to it in your paper. The paper itself should not be a verbatim reproduction of something you have already published – it needs to be a piece of original writing.

Don’t send your paper to more than one journal at a time, as this could mean that several referees review the same paper needlessly, or it could even go through the publication process at two different publishers.

And, if you’re using any material owned by a third party, such as images or screengrabs, check whether you need to obtain written permission to use it, and if you do then get that done before you submit your paper. If in doubt, the journal editor and the publisher should be able to advise you.

Further guidance is available here: http://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/ethics-for-authors/

7. Understand peer review

Peer review is a collaborative process whereby authors can get constructive feedback from independent experts. The role of these experts – known as referees, reviewers or readers – is to check methodology, provide polite feedback and, ultimately, improve the quality of the published paper. As mentioned by James Chapman in his blog, “Publish or be Damned,” the process can take time so patience is key!

When you get the feedback on your paper, remember it is normal for revisions to be requested. Do allow some time to do further work on your paper at this stage. Try not to take feedback personally, but instead see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you do disagree with particular points then be sure to discuss it with the journal editor – but be specific and assertive (not defensive or aggressive!)

That being said, try to accept the suggested revisions where possible and to return your paper on time. Being gracious and professional will pay dividends in the long run.

8. Congratulations, you’re published!

Hopefully, your article will then be accepted and it will move into production, where you’ll proof your article and it will be typeset and copyedited and made ready for online and print publication.

After your article is published, you can promote it by posting a link to it on your departmental website or your accounts on social media and academic networking sites.

Taylor & Francis also offers 50 free eprints to every author, including co-authors (different publishers have different policies on this). More and more authors are posting links to this on social media or in their email signatures and this is a highly effective way of driving people to your article.

For more tips, visit: http://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/ensuring-your-research-makes-an-impact/

Go forth and publish!


Emma Grylls is the Managing Editor for the History journals at Routledge, Taylor & Francis. She has a Master’s in Comparative Literature from UCL and a Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) in French-to-English translation.


Please see the PDF below for Emma’s PowerPoint presentation on ‘Publishing in academic journals: Tips to help you succeed’, which she delivered during the ‘Publishing Workshop’ at the biennial IAMHIST Conference, ‘Media and History: Crime, Violence and Justice’, University of Paris 2, July 10-13 2017:

How to get published (Emma Grylls, Taylor & Francis)

 

IAMHIST Challenge Event – “Extras, bit-players, and historical consultants in media history”

Anna Luise Kiss, Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf

10 August 2017


This blog reports on the IAMHIST Challenge Event: “Extras, bit-players, and historical consultants in media history” held at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf and the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies in Potsdam (Germany) from July 17 to 18 2017.


As the Film University is located next to the Studio Babelsberg it makes good sense to offer seminars dealing with the history of the oldest studio in the world and the production site of such outstanding films as The Student of Prague (1913, Hans Heinz Ewers), Metropolis (1927, Fritz Lang) and Solo Sunny (1980, Konrad Wolf). And as the practice of giving our Master students the possibility of conducting a cooperative research project before they have to work independently for their master’s thesis has proven to be successful, I thought the overlooked history of extras and bit-players in Studio Babelsberg would perfectly suit a researched based seminar for Master’s students in Media Studies. The thematic focus was motivated by my observation that in contrast to the amount of studies focusing on the upper sphere of the actors’ hierarchy, only few academic contributions address the role played by extras and bit-players in film. The reasons for this lack are many. To name only two: film historians were for a long time manly interested in outstanding directors, successful producers and stars. There was insufficient documentation of extras’ activity in film business, so that they were literally invisible to research. Although my students knew that the situation regarding the source material would be a major challenge to them, they agreed to my suggestion that we should, for two semester, address ourselves to that topic.

Our group of nine students divided into three subgroups: One group concentrated on the time from the founding of the studio (1912-1921), the UFA (1921-1933) and the “Drittes Reich” (1933-1945). The second group focused on the time of the DEFA (1946-1992). And the third group looked at the studio from reunification to the present (1993-2017). The students decided to focus on four questions:

  • Why were people motivated to work as extras?
  • How did the production companies find people who were willing to work as extras?
  • What were the working conditions like?
  • And, how was the extra treated in public discourse?

In addition, the students wanted to do a comprehensive analysis of the staging strategies of extras. Here they distinguished between films telling explicitly the story of an extra (most of the time in the mode of a fairy tale – the extra becomes a celebrated star) and films using extras to represent a crowd, or masses, and those which sought to represent a group within a milieu, types or pedestrians. Here they wanted to pose the question: in what kinds of aggregate structures (from an element of a mass to the individual being) did the extra appear? The methodological approach was very much orientated on Anthony Slide and Kerry Segrave: the students analyzed historic newspaper articles, production documents, they used the tools for film analysis, and – if possible – conducted interviews. The idea was to bring the results of the different groups together in a final research report. [*endnote]

While working on our research project we came across the IAMHIST Challenge. We decided to apply with the idea of hosting a workshop on extras and bit-players. On the one hand we wanted the opportunity of having our results critically discussed by other scholars, on the other hand we wanted to widen our perspective on the phenomenon on the basis of the contributions of the participants. We were happy to learn that our idea was one of the three winners of the challenge. With the support of IAMHIST we published a call for papers, and received the financial backing to invite guests, for film screenings and special events. Particularly Prof. Dr. David Culbert was very supportive. He suggested widening the frame of the workshop by examining the links between extras, bit-players and historical consultants. We were looking forward to a keynote from him on that subject matter. It was a shock for us to learn of the death of David Culbert only a few weeks before the workshop. Sadly, because of his absence, we failed to benefit from his ideas on how to conduct research on the historical consultant. But the representatives of IAMHIST Prof. Dr. Tobias Hochscherf and Dr. Paul Lesch immediately volunteered to conduct a discussion on the historical consultant.

Tobias Hochscherf, Paul Lesch and Anna Luise Kiss discussing the historical consultant as a potential research object

Despite a general discussion on how far the historical consultant can be seen as a research desideratum and on how one might approach this phenomenon, they worked out the connections between extras and historical consultants. For instance both can function as vehicles for authentication. Clamming that extras where hired who were, in real life, witnesses of the event staged for the silver screen, can be as effective in suggesting a strong bond to reality as the contention that the staging of the events in the film were approved by a historical consultant.

Besides this discussion, the first day was dedicated to the presentations by the master’s students:

Group 1: Iskander Kachcharov, Julian Gruß and Sarah Dombrink

They were able to reveal in detail major changes in the motivation of people who work as extras and bit-players: while during the founding years of the studio and the UFA, people were motivated to look for such work because of unemployment and  poverty or were as prisoners of war forced to work as extras, during DEFA times working as an extra became a  part-time job for students and pensioners. Nowadays the high number of runaway production produced at the Studio Babelsberg situated the work as an extra in the field of fan cultures. The casting process itself is an event and the shooting process a possibility to have an exclusive peek behind the scenes.

Group 2:  Judith Wajsgrus, Henrike Rau and Virginia Martin

Concerning the strategies of production companies to find people who were willing to work as extras the students worked out that until the “Dritte Reich” extras were hired in an uncountable number of Cafes and Restaurants in Berlin sometimes firming under the name of “Filmbörse”. During the Nazi Era the hiring of extras became regulated and centralized. The same with the DEFA, where an office for “Kleindarsteller” at the so called “Kleindarstellerhaus” hired extras with the help of their own catalog and played them on the basis of then existing salary scales. Today the Studio isn’t hiring extras by themselves anymore. Instead, when extras are needed for a production, the Studio consults specialized casting agencies, most of them situated in Berlin.

Anna-Sophie Philippi from Group 3

The student’s journey into the history of Studio Babelsberg was perfectly complemented by a tour through the area. Tobias Hochscherf followed-up the results of the student’s group working on the current working conditions for extras and bit-players in Studio Babelsberg, as his paper deals with the role of actors and bits in contemporary Danish Television. Compared to the German Television market, the Danish scene is much more characterized by personal changes and the rejection of Type- or stereotypical casting. This framework gives pit-players a much greater chance to make it to the upper sphere of the actors’ hierarchy.

For the conclusion of the day, we saw the film Magic Hours (2013, Henning Drechsler), telling the story of 84 year old extra Johanna Penski who started to work as an extra in the propaganda film Kollberg (1945, Veit Harlan).

The Workshop participants in front of the entrance of the Studio Babelsberg; the famous Marlene Dietrich Halle built for the production of Metropolis; the so called “Kleindarstellerhaus”; Tobias Hochscherf

On the basis of the submissions responding to our call for papers we were able to invite three early career researchers: Alexander Karpisek is a PhD Cadidate at the The Braunschweig University of Art. He discussed whether one could argue that the workers leaving the factory in one of the first films produced by the Lumière brothers, can be seen as the first extras existing in film history. Joceline Andersen, is a recent graduate of the doctoral program in Communication Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Her  paper  gave us the opportunity to discuss the cameo as a further facet of bit-part players. In contrast to the extras and bit-payers who go most of the time unnoticed by audiences and are meant to support the flow of the scene, the cameo roles are cast either to stand out from the film’s fictional world by potentially destabilizing the fictional flow or they are used as an atmospheric supplement to the main action. Linn Lönroth is a PhD candidate in Cinema Studies at Stockholm University. She brought with her a case study of “Preston Sturges’ Stock Company of Character Actors” and discussed the possibility of bit-players stepping out of their supporting function by scene stealing acts. The papers were followed by a discussion on the situation of extras in Germany and Luxemburg. Panel members were Dr. Paul Lesch, Karo Schnelle, Lisa Böttcher and Jannis Alexander Kiefer. Paul Lesch provided as input the case of late actor Thierry van Werveke who, although a well known actor in Luxembourg, had to start as a bit-player again when coming to Germany. Due to his “special” acting and outer appearance he was able gain reputation as an actor in Germany too. The case of Thierry roused the question in how far the physical characteristics are of importance to be employed as an extra or bit-player. As casting directors for extras, bit-players and actors Karo Schnelle and Lisa Böttcher appeared convinced that special characteristics are not a must be, but in praxis “special types” are employed more often that “averaged types”. Further more Schnelle and Böttcher gave us an insight into the work of Crowd Marshals. In this context we discussed the question of how far and for what reasons terms associated with the army are used in the context of extras. The young film director Jannis Alexander Kiefer recently finalized a documentary on another facet of the extra: the stand-in. As his protagonist formulated the wish to become an actor, Jannis’s experience inspired us to explore the question of how far people see the work of an extra as a spring board to a career as an actor.

Anna Luise Kiss, Paul Lesch, Karo Schnelle, Jannis Alexander Kiefer and Lisa Böttcher discussing the situation of extras in nowadays Germany and Luxembourg

After a guided tour through the Film Museum Potsdam we saw the documentary Battles of Troy (2005). The Film portrays the experience of Bulgarian extras who went to Malta and Mexico to represent Greek and Trojan solders in Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy (2004). We were delighted to be able to discuss the film with it’s director and visual artist Krassimir Terziev, who actually took part in the complete workshop as one of our experts.

After all these inspiring contributions, feedback and insights, my students are looking forward to continuing their work on the research report. The working conditions of extras mirror sociocultural developments, changes in film politics and changes in the production processes as a whole. Extras serve not only as an element helping to stage the background of the scene, but can also play an important role in the authentication strategies of filmmakers. Having a close look at the connections of extras to other people appearing in front of the camera, exposes the differentiation of the actors’ hierarchy, the strategies used by actors to become part of the upper spheres and how institutional change can bring more flexibility around entry into the hierarchy.

Q&A with director Krassimir Terziev


Anna Luise Kiss attended the University of Hagen and received a Bachelor’s degree in cultural studies. For her thesis on the visuality in Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum (1979) she was awarded a prize for the most outstanding Bachelor thesis. Simultaneously she worked as an actress. She continued her graduate studies at the Film University Babelsberg and graduated in Media Science. With her Master’s thesis on the repetitive use of the last film shots of Hitler in documentary films she won, in 2013, the Brandenburg Young Scientist Award. Since November 2012 she has held a position as a research and teaching assistant in the field of media history at the Film University Babelsberg and has started work on her PhD about “Non-actors in feature films”. In November 2014 she published her first academic anthology on the DEFA director Herrmann Zschoche. Together with the cinematographer Dieter Chill, she presented their research on the still photographer Waltraut Pathenheimer in a book (Ch. Verlag) and an exhibition in the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies in December 2016. In October 2016, Anna Luise Kiss was elected as vice-president for research and transfer at the Film University.

  • Archives