The poster of the film NESSIE, with the title coming out of a large body of water


Date(s) - Tue. Mar. 9, 2021
7:00 pm GMT - 8:15 pm GMT

Kieran Foster

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The British Film Studio Hammer Films is perhaps one of the most iconic film studios of all time. Hammer’s production of gothic horror pictures began in 1957 with The Curse of Frankenstein, and would go on to cement a lasting house style for the company and international success. This success has led to the company being extensively documented both within and outside academia. Yet a crucial area of the company’s history remains largely unexplored.

This talk will utilise never seen before archival materials held in the Hammer Script Archive to present a new perspective on Hammer Films. The talk will argue that whilst many studies of Hammer Films have been undertaken, none have accounted for the significant amount of creative and economic labour that went into over 100 unmade projects at the company. Utilising primary materials such as screenplays, financial documentation and correspondence, the talk will examine the industrial and production contexts of an eclectic range of Hammer’s unmade films, ranging from Loch Ness Monster project Nessie to Dracula in India script Kali Devil Bride of Dracula.

Through an examination of these lost projects, the talk will therefore look to address a crucial gap in the history of Hammer Films via their unmade projects. Foregrounding Hammer’s unmade texts in this way also necessitates a shift away from the typical analysis of Hammer’s stars or the film’s visual style, and instead allows for an examination of the methods of production and the creative roles of the managing director, producer and screenwriter. For example Michael Carreras was Managing Director of Hammer between 1971–1979, and materials on Hammer’s unmade projects create a detailed picture of his tenure in charge of the company.

As well as the Hammer Script Archive, the talk will utilise materials held at the BFI archive, the Margaret Herrick Library and the Warner Bros Archive in Los Angeles to refute key narratives surrounding Hammer’s demise, which often centre on creative stagnation. Instead the talk will suggest that Hammer’s unmade projects demonstrate exceptional creative innovation, even in the final years before their closure in 1979. It will argue that it was key tensions within Hammer, as well as larger industrial changes to the British film industry, which ultimately sealed the company’s fate.

Please note these are live events – they cannot be downloaded and watched later, so please be sure you are available at the time and timezone the classes are being offered in before registering.