Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Liverpool
Unit of AssessmentCommunication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
Summary of the impact
The outputs of two AHRC-funded research projects included
- a comprehensive database (launched in May 2009) of films about
Liverpool, which includes rare and previously unknown or unseen
- new ways of curating film material using GIS software.
The beneficiaries of this work were individuals and organisations
interested in cultural heritage. There were two kinds of impact:-
Cultural impact through the preservation and interpretation of
rare and previously unknown or unseen heritage films made about the city
of Liverpool and Merseyside region. Also through the ease with which
more than a million visitors to the Museum of Liverpool have been able
to access a wealth of previously unseen historical material (including
rare film footage) simply by touching an interactive map.
Impact on professional methods and practices for museum curation.
Following a series of workshops (May 2009-Dec 2010), curators at the new
Museum of Liverpool decided to create an interactive map of digitised
artefacts as part of the permanent exhibition in the History Detectives
gallery (launched December 2011).
Film and Place
The AHRC-funded `City in Film' project (PI Hallam, University of
Liverpool, 2006-2008) examined the ways in which cities have been recorded
and represented on film since the early days of cinema, focusing on
Liverpool as an example. The project brought together and documented, to
date, over 1700 films made about the city between 1897 and 1984 and
created an on-line database.
database is unique in that it is searchable by location, spatial
function and use.
- It brings together information on films owned by a wide range of
institutions, organisations, private individuals and collectors, many
unseen by the public and unavailable to all but specialist researchers,
- It includes numerous items of rare footage in various public and
Project team included Kronenburg (CI — Architecture, University of
Liverpool), Koeck and Roberts (Associates — Architecture, University of
Liverpool). Written outputs include journal articles and a well-received
monograph, Film, Mobility and Urban Space (Roberts 2012).
The subsequent, AHRC-funded, `Mapping the City in Film' project
(PI Hallam, University of Liverpool, 2008-2010), used Geographical
Information Systems (GIS) software to extend the `City in Film'
database in new ways. As well as enabling an interrogation of film's
spatial properties, GIS provides an organisational framework to anchor
qualitative materials, such as interviews and still and moving images, by
time and place. GIS organises research outcomes in a way that improves
public participation and engagement through partnership with museums,
archives and other public forums. The project team included Kronenburg (CI
- Architecture, University of Liverpool), Roberts and Shand
(Associates - Architecture and Communication and Media, University of
This use of GIS in film research was seen as breaking new ground in the
discipline. To quote from a peer review of Hallam and Roberts,
2013: `This collection breaks new ground for cinema history...
Introducing new interdisciplinary methods and asking new questions,
Locating the Moving Image takes film studies into new territory, beyond
the boundaries of the text and its interpretation, towards an
understanding of the relationship between culture, spatiality and place."
— Richard Maltby, Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Screen
Studies, Flinders University).
References to the research
1. Hallam, J. and L. Roberts. (eds.) (2013) Locating the
Moving Image: New Approaches to Film and Place, Bloomington: Indiana
University Press. (Commissioned by Prof David Bodenhamer, Director, The
Polis Centre, University of Indiana-Purdue for his new Spatial Humanities
2. Hallam J. (2012) `Civic visions: mapping the city film 1900-1960', Culture,
Theory and Critique, Routledge, Vol. 53 :1, 37-58
3. Roberts L. (2012) Film, Mobility and Urban Space: A
Cinematic Geography of Liverpool, Liverpool: Liverpool University
review: consistently interesting, theoretically smart, and a
pleasure to read', Ben Highmore, University of Sussex
4. Hallam J. (2010) `Film and Place: researching a City in Film' The
New Review of Film and Television Studies Routledge, Vol. 8 no.3,
277-296. ISSN 1740-0309 (Best read article in journal overall third
position September 2011).
5. Koeck, R. and L. Roberts (2010) The City and the Moving
Image: Urban Projections. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan
6. Roberts, L. (2010) `Making Connections: Crossing Boundaries of
Place and Identity in Liverpool and Merseyside Amateur Transport Films', Mobilities
Vol. 5:1, 83-109. ISSN 1745-0101 [REF 2 output]
Supported by two AHRC research grants; `City in Film' PI Hallam £195,460
(2006-2008), `Mapping the City in Film' PI Hallam £377,188 (2008-2010).
AHRC review of final report: `this project achieved
`substantial impact in the city and other community areas', promoted
`extensive networking and collaboration', `very efficient use
of resource'. Also supported by an AHRC/BT Digital Heritage
Network Award, £11,531 (October 2009 - December 2010), PI Hallam; `Landscapes,
memories and cultural practices: a GIS/GPS digital heritage mapping
Details of the impact
Our research had impact as follows:
1) Cultural impact through the enhancement of individuals'
socio-cultural awareness and appreciation of film texts which have never
before been seen in public.
2) Impact on methods and practices: curators decide to use GIS as
a way of organising the Museum of Liverpool's catalogue spatially.
Our City in Film related projects established a wide range of
contacts nationally and internationally, with individuals and groups
including researchers, filmmakers, cultural producers, cultural
institutions and activist organisations, leading to:
(1) Cultural impact
The cultural impact of these projects on education for citizenship and
civic/community engagement with the city's environment is wide-ranging and
on-going. Until 2008, rare historic films about the city were scattered
amongst a wide range of institutions and private collectors. Many of these
films have since been donated for preservation. Fifty of them are now
preserved in the National Film Archive, North West Film Archive and
digitised for permanent display as part of Screenonline and in the
`History Detectives' Gallery, new Museum of Liverpool.
Public screenings, exhibitions, lectures, seminars and events have made
this rich film heritage available to a wide range of audiences. Screenings
have taken place at various Merseyside locations including Foundation for
Art and Creative Technology (FACT) media centre, Woolton Cinema, UCI Edge
Lane, Liverpool School of Architecture (LSA).
Public impact: response to the screenings has shown warm
enthusiasm: "a very useful service to the community and to historical
records", "brilliant glimpse into the past!" "let's have more of
these events please", "films should be shown more often here!", with
28 of 37 respondents rating a FACT event as excellent and a further 9 as
good (attendance 90). Between September 2011 and January 2013, 907 people
watched NWFA screenings with City in Film content at events in
Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley and Wirral. Other screenings and events have
included large scale public events such Mitchell and Kenyon's
Liverpool Films' in their original Edwardian venue (full house, 800
people), 9 screening and discussion events from 2008-9 with contributions
from local filmmakers, artists and community activists, contributions to
the Waterfront Screening series (Tate Liverpool 2008), Terence
Davies Public Lecture, Liverpool University (2010, full house 250 people).
Public attendance at these screenings and events has ranged from 30-800
participants. Participants ranged from predominantly young professionals
at FACT and LSA to mixed family audiences at UCI and elderly people at
Visits and requests for material on Liverpool and Merseyside from
personal researchers to programme producers, professional researchers and
educators have increased by 6-8% at North West Film Archive since 2008, a
rise that can be directly attributed to the change in the archive's
collecting policy in respect of material from Merseyside, the publicity
generated by the project (interviews for local, regional and national
television, radio and press included North West Tonight, GMTV,
ITV Granada, Radio Merseyside, Liverpool Daily Post and Echo; for
report, 2009) and increased public engagement through local
screenings and events. Enquiries about developing this material for
educational use in schools have been received from local groups such as Lovehistory,
a Liverpool based education charity.
Institutional impact: City in Film, in partnership with
North West Film Archive, North West Vision and Media, Liverpool Libraries
and Liverpool Record Office, contributed to the development of a `place'
page featuring Liverpool for the British Film Institute's Screenonline
resource. Some 45,518 visitors have viewed the Screenonline
Liverpool on Screen pages at March 2013, although this figure does not
account for links from associated works and biographies. This `very
successful programme' received a special mention by the BFI as an
innovative model for a new on-line resource A Portrait of Britain,
in the BFI's memorandum to the House of Lords Select Committee on
Communications, in its inquiry into the British film and television
industries, 2009. (see section 5:1)
Community impact: Heritage film is now part of the Museum's
education programme to stimulate engagement in citizenship and community
action. In consultation with Hallam, Mark Bareham of Soap Box Films is
developing a lottery funded project with the Museum (as part of their
education programme) to run a series of workshops and create an on-line
archive of material made by Community Productions Group, a co-operative
media resource that documented co-operative business and voluntary schemes
in Merseyside in the 1980s. A pilot screening and discussion of this
material announced in gallery attracted 30 adult participants of mixed
ages: average response to questions such as `how useful is material to
start a discussion' was 9.8, and `importance of making it readily
accessible' 9.9. Comments included `Very relevant to today', `Scary and
relevant', `Really interesting and inspiring', `Good to relate today's
struggles to the past' (April 2012). The project includes the development
of educational resource materials that will be piloted in community
settings as well as schools and colleges.
Hallam also provided consultation and support for Pidgin
Productions lottery awarded project `Back to
the Timepiece', a documentary that contributes to the history of
Liverpool's black community.
2) Impact on methods and practices
The Museum of Liverpool, opened in 2011, is the first purpose-built
museum in the UK for over 100 years. According to its
web page it is now the most visited museum in the country outside
Workshops, led by our researchers, introduced museum staff to the technological
and methodological insights and tools developed in the research
projects. This has changed the ways curators at the Museum think about
accessing their collections. The Museum's curators expressed an
interest in developing the public's access to their collections through
the use of an interactive map as part of discussions about the new Museum
of Liverpool's use of film in exhibition galleries. Traditionally, the
public have had no means of accessing a museum's catalogue.
Geo-coding the catalogue and digitising images of many of the
artefacts relating to the Merseyside area and storing them in a GIS
system has enabled the public to access their local history by touching a
map on a screen in the History
Detectives Gallery. A menu gives access to a wide range of material
including, but not limited to, film materials made available for public
display through collaboration between the researchers, amateur filmmakers,
North West Film Archive and the BFI.
The interactive map has been accessed by more than a million visitors
to the Museum. (current footfall 1,188,226 since the gallery opened
in December 2011 against a target of 750,000).
The map is facilitating public participation in psycho-geographic
narratives of memory and identity around issues of place through
themed workshops e.g. by the creation of `trails' which become part of the
map (c.f. Radical City, Radical Women impact narrative).
Dr. Rob Philpott, Head of Field Archaeology, commenting on participating
in the network, stated that "`The workshops have been intellectually very
stimulating...[they] created an enhanced awareness of developing
technologies in areas as diverse as GIS, GPS, mobile phone applications,
architectural reconstruction, music and film, and social history. I
anticipate that the workshops will have a series of longer-term, perhaps
less immediate, benefits in the way the Museum of Liverpool team will
develop the displays on gallery'" (AHRC/BT network report Feb 2011).
Dr. Les Roberts is a consultant advisor on `City in Film' projects in
Bologna and Vienna. This latter project proposes to use film to
examine how public space has changed over time using a similar approach to
City in Film. A link to the report on their project, which
references their visit to Liverpool, is available in section 5:2.
Sources to corroborate the impact
BFI Memorandum to the House of Lords Select Committee on
Communications mentions `the very successful project run in
Liverpool' (section 1, BFI National Archive, Para 5) as a model
archive access project in its inquiry into the British film and
television industries, 2009 (Section 4:1c). See also the
- Siegfried Mattl references the impact of the Mapping the City in
Film conference (February 2010) and subsequent collaboration
research on the Vienna project in his final project report FILM.STADT.WIEN:
A TRANSDISCIPLINARY EXPLORATION OF VIENNA AS A CINEMATIC CITY
(Section 4:2b, page 3 para 3)
A Senior Curator at the BFI, can be contacted to corroborate
that the City in Film project contributed to the Screenonline
Liverpool pages, including sourcing rare films for archiving, and
verification of the number of page visits. See link to BFI select
committee report in section 5:1.
A private collector and amateur filmmaker, awarded the MBE for his
contribution to preserving local film heritage, can be contacted
to verify that rare amateur film footage archived by North West Film
Archive was well received at public screenings in various venues (see
Section 4a) leading to further outreach work, and that some films are
now part of permanent displays on Screenonline and in the Museum
An academic and PI of the FILM.STADT.WIEN project at Ludwig
Boltzmann Institut für Geschichte und Gesellschaft, can be
contacted to corroborate that the Vienna `City in Film' project was
influenced by research at Liverpool and that there is on-going
collaboration between Liverpool and Vienna (see report link in section
5:2 above and section 4:2b)
The Director, Museum of Liverpool, can be contacted to verify
visitor numbers to the museum (sections 4:2a and 4:1d); museum staff
worked with the researchers on the development of the interactive map
for the History Detectives gallery; rare amateur film footage provides
some of the geo-referenced map content; the interactive map forms a
basis for community education projects including the Radical City,
Radical Women trail and exhibition and Soapbox Films workshops.
A colleague from Soap Box Films can be contacted to corroborate
the evidence of continuing community involvement and impact presented in