Voices from the Peripheries: A Study of the Regional Film and Television Business in Norway
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This thesis is a study of how regional film and television companies in Norway manage to survive and achieve their goals in the context of a larger film and television business that is centralised, economically fragile, and subsidy dependent. Interest in production studies has boomed in recent years, but little of this research addresses regional film and television companies. This thesis employs a production studies approach and incorporates theory on place and work on the creative industries. It contributes to the limited amount of research that accounts for both structural framework—in particular, the impact of film policy and dependence on public funding on these companies— and agency in terms of the intrinsic value of regional film and television production in a local, national and global context. Using multiple perspectives, this thesis presents an in-depth exploration of the advantages and disadvantages of being a regional film and television company. The case study is its principal methodological approach, including interviews with film workers at four companies and employees at six regional film agencies, as well as policy documents, websites, newspapers and productions. The thesis focuses on four well-established regional film and television companies that have produced critically acclaimed films. All are located outside Oslo, the hub of film production in Norway. The four companies are Original Film in Tromsø, Northern Norway, Flimmer Film in Bergen, Western Norway, Mer Film in Tromsø/Bergen, Northern/Western Norway, and Filmbin in Lillehammer, central Eastern Norway. This thesis argues that one of the greatest challenges to these regional companies (and the government that supports them) is how to develop strong, sustainable regional film milieus among a scattered populace like Norway’s. The regions suffer from low production volume and brain drain and the research shows that these companies rely on human resources to deal with this challenge. Policy development indicates that the public funding of regional film is mostly based on regional and economic, but also cultural, arguments—regional film, that is, should contribute to regional development, economic growth and diversity. I argue that the economic and rural political rationale for support of this business tends to undermine the cultivation of the cultural value of regional film, as well as its quality and professionalism. However, the companies have managed to produce critically acclaimed films and the thesis reveals how the peripheral location can be a creative and economic advantage.