Frank Gray

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Research interests

Dr Frank Gray's research is dedicated to the study of early British cinema. It is empirical in nature and concentrates on the beginnings of film in Britain as a technology and as a cultural and commercial form. It focusses on Victorian and Edwardian film culture with particular emphasis on production and exhibition in Sussex. This period witnessed the introduction of the new medium, the creation of films studios at Hove and the work of the Brighton School - the pioneers G. A. Smith and James Williamson  As a research subject, it engages with popular spectacles and projections of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the development of narrative film fiction, the emergence of 'news' on film, film exhibition, the continuities between the magic lantern and film and the introduction of the concept of cinema. As such, it possesses a wide range of intermedial and intertextual relationships. All of this research has been informed and cultivated through his close association with Domitor, the international early cinema society. In addition to published book chapters and conference papers, his research has found public expression through the curation of museum exhibitions, media interviews and public lectures. He has received invitations to speak from the British Film Institute, the German Historical Institute, the British Academy and the Royal Institution and his research has had an impact on the streets of Brighton through the erection of blue plaques on film heritage sites and the naming of buses after pioneer film-makers.

Knowledge exchange

Dr Frank Gray is the Director of the School of Media’s Film Office. Within it are found two film enterprises: Screen Archive South East (SASE) and Cinecity. They are both committed to the advancement of film culture, engagement with communities and the application of these interests (film archiving and film exhibition) to the work of the School and the University. SASE is a public film archive dedicated to the collection, documentation, preservation, digitisation and storage of magic lantern slides, film, video and born-digital artifacts. It is recognised by the British Film Institute (the UK’s national film agency) as a collection of national significance. Cinecity, co-directed by Tim Brown, is a film curation agency that delivers inclusive and diverse film programmes for delivery in cinemas and galleries through its annual festival each November and it activities with Brighton Festival and other regional and national partners. Sustained and recurring funding from three lottery distributors (ACE, BFI and HLF) has made the activities of the Film Office possible. In addition to these responsibilities, Gray is also very active in the national development of screen heritage policy and strategy (he chaired Film Archives UK from 2012-18) and has contributed to the cultural community of Brighton & Hove by serving as a board member for a number of organisations, curating public exhibitions and acting as one of its Arts Commissioners.


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