the north east has been through various rounds of restructuring over the past two centuries...
A coupe of years ago a colleague and i did some research into the connectivity of people working in the region ’ s creative industries. What we found was a rather gloomy picture. Many of the creative industry workers we spoke to had a very bounded spatial imaginary and working practices. They didn ’ t look much beyond the region for work or collaborators. And even though they knew they should, they didn ’ t engage in many active engagement strategies, in part because of a set of financial and time-related barriers. Alongside these findings two contrasting narratives about the state of the film and television industries emerged...
The first narrative was one of success. The people producing this narrative cited various high profile films and tv programmes made in the region or by regional companies. The message was one of optimism and growth.
The second narrative we heard can be summed up by this quote from quite a successful producer who said she was about to leave Newcastle if she didn ’ t find some new work soon. These contrasting perspectives piqued by interest and i set about trying to find out what was going on.
My objectives are to discover what has happened to the film and television industries over the last 40 years, why these things have happened. This presentation is about some of the ‘ what ’ and early thoughts on the ‘ why ’
The first thing i did was to produce a timeline of productions from the region from 1970. To do this i went to the internet moive data base and harvested data for - productions made in the region and - productions involving north east-based production companies I found 399 productions But this is only a partial picture as the archive has much missing from it, and it doesn ’ t include adverts, music videos, corporate films, community films, and it doesn ’ t capture all the work done in development of productions which don ’ t make it to the screen. After 2000, though, the data is much more reliable, and it is from this period i draw on in the following charts.
If one adds up the lengths of productions by year you can get an idea of what has been produced over time. As you can see there was been quite a sharp decline in television production from the start of the last decade - a drop about 45 hours of programming to 16.5 hours. In terms of film you can see a slight rise, with some fluctuation in recent years. The large drop after 2005 is the result of two key production companies - Zenith North and Coastal - having series cancelled, and Tyne Tees Television - the regional ITV franchise - being rationalised after the formation of a single ITV company. Net loss of 100 workers in 2008
If you examine where these screen minutes were originated (and there isn ’ t data for everything on the last slide), you can see a much larger decline for programming originated by production companies based in the region. A drop from 26 hours to 4 and a half hours. And after 2003 more production done in the region was from companies based outside the region than inside. What appears to be happening is that the region is becoming a location for filming, rather than a place productions are originated from.
This decline of regionally originated production is significant for two regions. First, in terms of employment, regionally produced productions are more likely to film in the region (three and a half times more likely), and more likely to use regionally based staff. This is why the producer i quoted earlier was about to move. Productions originated outside the region act like travelling caravans, bringing with them their own crew, and having very little to do with the industry embedded in the region - although they might hire a local location manager. Second, one person i spoke to suggested if you lose the development and pre-production phases of film and television you lose the creative elements of production. Also lose capacity and fixed capital resources - see Tyne Tees TV studios... So in terms of fostering a local industry, regionally embedded production companies are crucial.
Tyne-Tees studios being demolished the loss of this sort of resource means the decline becomes mutually reinforcing - if you have no studio space then you can only attract a certain type of production.
It was evident from previous research that for many individuals the region was the key space in which they operated. Indeed, as highlighted earlier, this space became entrenched in their spatial imaginaries, in some cases to workers ’ detriment. But the film and TV production is a network of multi-scalar activities. I ’ m keen to avoid a preoccupation with on-set production to examine “ the key domains of finance, distribution and exhibition that exert a massive influence on the organisational structures and geography of the industry ” , and importantly the geographies of the networks which form through, from and between these domains. You can see the multiscalar geographies in this diagram of a single film shot in Liverpool
talk through jobs - highlight where most creative activities are ive been trying to do the same sort of thing on a larger scale
My approach to do this is to mobilise Grabher ’ s project ecologies concept. I ’ m sure most people are familiar with the concept, but for those who aren ’ t project ecologies denote relational space which affords the personal, organisation, and institutional resources for performing projects. This relational space encompasses social layers on multiple scales, from the micro-level of interpersonal networks to the meso-level of wider institutional settings. Given the fluid, often informal nature of many linkages in project ecologies tracing contemporary networks in the creative industries is difficult, and doing it for the past forty years is even harder. However, for film and television productions there is a handy list of people who worked on particular projects in the credits. These formal, transactional relationships are more durable and visible when looking across time, although they do not reveal everything. One could conceive of them as skeletal remains of faded project ecologies. I returned to the internet movie database to dig these up.
So i went back to the IMDB and got the lists of crew, production staff, companies and other organisations involved in all those productions we ’ d previously found... not much geographical data available... but you can create something similar to Johns ’ diagram using particular network layout algorithms...
To trace and analyse these project ecologies i ’ ve been using some network analysis software called Gephi. It produces graphs such as this one for two television programmes. Each circle - or node - represents either a production, an individual, or a firm. You can see that nodes are linked together, and connecting lines indicate the level of involvement in a production. In this example the thinner lines are involvement in one episode, the slightly thicker lines indicate people were involved in two episodes. The green nodes are larger because they have been resized based on the number and weight of connections to them. So although there are fewer connections to A DInner of Herbs, the weight of these connections is slightly larger than those to The Dwelling Place. This focus on firms and workers means it gives an interesting glimpse into the labour market. It gives an idea of what work has been available - quantifying the amount of work is very difficult, however, given there is no other information. So with the help of a research assistant the crew for the 400 or so productions over the last 40 years were harvested from IMDB.
10,000 nodes - people, firms, organisations, and about 400 productions 15,000 connections between them When you put them all into the software you get a network like this. The software allows you to run various algorithms. The one used to create this network pulls together nodes which share links. What you get is a topological, relational map of what one might think of as project ecologies. It is important to note these are transnational, multiscalar networks. You can analyse this in various ways.
When you put them all into the software you get a network like this. The software allows you to run various algorithms. The one used to create this network pulls together nodes which share links. What you get is a topological, relational map of what one might think of as project ecologies. It is important to note these are transnational, multiscalar networks. You can analyse this in various ways.
data more reliable for this time period
Degree centrality is a measure of the number of connections a node has to other nodes, the assumption being that the more connections a node has the more important it is. Weighted degree centrality treats nodes differently based on the weight (value) of connections to a node as well as the number of connections. Eigenvector centrality works like degree centrality, but rather than assuming connections to other nodes are equal, the calculation takes into account the ‘ importance ’ of neighbouring nodes. Scores are relative, the most important node = 1. Betweenness centrality measures how often a node appears on shortest paths between nodes in the network. That is, it measures how often a particular node is crossed when tracing the shortest pathway between any two nodes in a network. Closeness centrality is a measure of the average distance between a node and every other node in a network (can only be used for gapless networks).
I want to highlight one interesting finding from this data... Same graph, but only showing productions (people and firms removed), and these have been resized based on the size of their crew. TV programming is much more central TV much more tightly clustered - due to core production companies, distributors and individuals who repeated work on productions together in various combinations. Split - in terms of workers - between TV and films Has this split always been there?
First, some jobs only exist in one sector – films will not have gallery crew, but they do use cinematographers who are rare in all but the highest quality made-for-television drama. Second, roles which exist in both industries are specialised. These technical divisions of labour most are obvious in relation to equipment used. Camera operators re a good example. Until relatively recently films were shot on, well, film, a rarity for television productions who historically have used cheaper tape. As both areas move to digital capture, the equipment still differs greatly. Digital film cameras remain very sophisticated using prime lenses and requiring a number of people to operate. In television a variety of cameras are used from large studio cameras to handheld devices which are highly portable. Becoming expert in any of these requires specialization by the operator. Similar levels of specialization can be seen in sound equipment, post-production roles, and set dressing. Third, given specialization is industry specific, careers trajectories tend to reflect this. Career trajectories are also confined by learning the working practices to each field, for example television drama operates in very different ways to news programming. As individuals ’ careers develop, switching from film to television (or vice versa) does happen, but it is rare people will operate in both fields. This observation is true for the majority of actors in this network, but not all: some actors, mainly companies, bridge the divide. The most obvious example is the BBC (G6/7). It commissions and distributes large quantities of television programming, but also funds films, and thus it has connections spanning the network (32 links to TV programmes, 6 to films). Channel 4 operates in a similar way, although with a smaller budget, commissioning programming for its television channels and films through its Film 4 fund. In the case of the North East-centric network only two of the 28 productions Channel 4 is connected to are films. It appears Channel 4 looks elsewhere for its film commissioning.
we can also examine this the graphy over time to see if the split has always existed. The split appears to be maintained through time... partly because there aren ’ t many films made by the region ’ s industry in the 1980s and 90s. But it is certainly there in the 2000s. When you examine the 2000s more closely, though, a change occurs...
If you examine the last 11-12 years more close you see that after the decline in screen minutes occurs in the mid-2000, the separation disappears. What appears to be happening is that people who once worked just on TV programmes - and could sustain a career like that - are branching out into film as the amount of TV originated and made in the region has declined. But what is more interesting is the type of films - these are shorts. And it appears most of these shorts are funded by film funds from the public sector. This is significant because this part of the creative industries seems to be following the pattern of other sectors in the north east over time - relying on the public sector to sustain itself.
Other things you can identify from the way the graph is laid out are the satellites orbiting the clusters around the edges. These are caravan productions - explain
you can see these caravans around the edge - flung out there because they have little or no connection to other nodes in the network
By way of conclusion i think it is useful to review the usefulness of SNA used in this way
Cancellations - e.g. BBC Disinvestment - e.g. ITV Overseas - George Gently brought to NE from Ireland regional bodies - bonfire of the quangos, cuts in funding next stage to find out more through case studies and interviews.
Understanding the film and TV sector in North East England using social network analysis Jon Swords Northumbria UniversityPresentation to Employment Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University (5th December, 2012)
StructureBackgroundPrevious researchChange over last decadeBeyond the regionExamining project networksEarly conclusions
North East CrisesEconomic powerhouse in industrial revolution25% of global ship production early 20thcenturyManufacturing boom post warMicrochip manufacture in 1990sCreative industries?
Creative Industries in North East England Much of the region’s creative industries are characterised as: -operating self contained and regionally bounded working practices -being isolated cognitively and physically from creative hubs -using passive or serendipitous engagement strategies to engage non- locally -facing barriers to engage non-locally (Swords and Wray, 2010) Swords, J. & Wray, F. (2010) "The Connectivity of the Creative Industries in North East England: The Problems of Physical and Relational Distance" Local Economy 25(4) 305–318
• “There is no industry anymore…if I don’t find a new project soon I’m moving to Glasgow.” • (Producer D)
What’s happened?Why did it happened?What are the consequences?
Productions made (at least in part) in NEProductions involving NE based productioncompanies
Impacts of DeclineRegional firms 3.5x more likley to film locally“Very little creativity on set, mainly routinestasks and fetching and carrying. Intensivecreative period is pre-production.” (Producer H)Loss of capacity
Moving beyond the region Bounded regional space of workers vs multi-scalar relational spaces of production networks “...the key domains of finance, distribution and exhibition that exert a massive influence on the organizational structures and geography of the industry.” (Coe and Johns, 2004: 188)
Geographies of the project network of a feature film shot in Liverpool Johns, J. (2010) "Manchesters Film and Television Industry: Project Ecologies and Network Hierarchies" Urban Studies, 47(5) 1059–1077
Skeletal Remains of Project Ecologies“project ecologies denote relational space whichaffords the personal, organizational, andinstitutional resources for performing projects.This relational space encompasses social layerson multiple scales, from the micro-level ofinterpersonal networks to the meso-level of widerinstitutional settings.” (Grabher and Ibert, 2010: 176)
Crew listsCompanies involvedOther organisations ...for productions linked to north east England
CaravansProductions which travel from location to location to filmMinimal impact on local industry (e.g. Atonement) Source: pierre c. 38 @ Flickr
Using SNA+ overcomes missing geographic data+ useful to identify key (powerful?) nodes+ help identify areas for further investigation (School forSeduction)+ nice visualisations- partial data- SNA measures skewed
Competing Narratives1. Buoyant industry connected to Hollywood and London? • branch plant relationship?2. Declining industry hemorrhaging jobs? • yes, but... more resilient firms? • Growing short film focus.
Creative De-industrialisation? Decisions leading to decline: • cancellation of series • (dis)investment decisions • choosing overseas locations • loss of regional bodies ...are made outside the region. History repeating?