The UK low-budget film sector during the ‘digital revolution’ between 2000 and 2012: a quantitative assessment of its technological, economic and cultural characteristics

John C. Crissey III

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Despite a large amount of research on the British movie industry, the ‘UK low-budget film sector’ remains under-researched. This doctoral thesis redresses this deficiency by providing a quantitative analysis of the sector from 2000 to 2012, a period that is described as involving a ‘digital revolution’ due to an unprecedented amount of technological innovation. The main questions addressed are: ‘What was the sector’s size?’; ‘What were the sector’s main traits?’; and ‘How was the sector affected by digital technology?’. In response to these questions, the thesis reconsiders: the definition of a low-budget movie, the ‘industry peculiarities’ within which producers operated, the characteristics of the sector, the technological developments at the time and how they shaped the sector. The study then makes use of supply chain theory to identify and measure the impact of technological innovation on the economic and cultural contributions made by the sector. The findings of the thesis show a higher level of production than has been reported in official estimates; the probable reasons for growth; the continuance of a high amount of risk in the supply chain process; a rapid transition to digital technology-based tools; a marked decrease in the price-quality ratio of tools; a rise in the regionalisation of locations, skills and narratives; a decrease in the cost and time of the filmmaking process; a marked rise in the percentage of movies exhibited online; and a growth in audience levels. The study also found a new relevance for ‘budget realignment theories’ published in the 1990s and offers new quantitative evidence of how the sector makes a substantial economic and cultural contribution to the domestic industry. In doing so, this PhD thesis adds to earlier studies of the British movie industry by shedding new insight on an often-neglected sector.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Hill, John, Supervisor
  • Powell, Jonathan, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Mar 2020
Publication statusUnpublished - 21 Jun 2019


  • low-budget film
  • UK film industry
  • British Film Industry
  • Movie Industry
  • motion-picture industry
  • UK low-budget film
  • Independent Film

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