Dr Shane O'Sullivan

About

I was recently appointed Associate Professor and Head of Department, Film and Photography at Kingston School of Art. I teach screenwriting, documentary and fiction production, and lectured in filmmaking and film distribution at Regents University and Birmingham City University before coming to Kingston in 2014.

My work as a filmmaker includes three feature documentaries exploring contemporary political history which have been broadcast worldwide: Killing Oswald, RFK Must Die and Children of the Revolution, which was released in thirty cinemas across Japan in 2014. My video essay Anatomy of a Murder - Sirhan Sirhan and Robert Kennedy was shortlisted for Best Research Film of the Year in the AHRC Research in Film Awards 2016.

Drawing on my interest in the creative reuse of the archive, I am the UK Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded Make Film History project, supported by the British Film Institute, BBC Archive, Northern Ireland Screen and the Irish Film Institute, which opens up the archives to young filmmakers across the UK and Ireland.

In 2021, I executive produced three short films for the New Creatives scheme through a consortium led by the ICA and funded by BBC Arts and Arts Council England. I also represented Kingston on the commissioning panel. 

I am the author of two books: Who Killed Bobby? The Unsolved Murder of Robert F. Kennedy (2008) and Dirty Tricks: Nixon, Watergate and the CIA (2018). I am also a regular contributor to The Washington Post, with seven opinion pieces drawing parallels between political scandals during the Nixon and Trump presidencies. I have been interviewed about my work by the BBC, CNN, NHK, Al Jazeera and Russia Today.  

Academic responsibilities

School Head of Department

Qualifications

  • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • PhD in Film, University of Roehampton
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching, University of the Arts, London
  • BA (Hons) Economics and Social Studies (2:1), Trinity College, Dublin

Teaching and learning

My teaching is focused on screenwriting, documentary and fiction production at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I am course leader of BA Film and the university liaison for the ARRI Certified Film School Accreditation Program, which offers our students an advanced camera skills qualification. 

I served as an external examiner for four years at London Metropolitan University, assessing undergraduate degrees in Film and Broadcast Production, and Music Technology. I have also worked as an external consultant for the validation of Filmmaking programmes by the University of Winchester, the University of Liverpool and Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU); and moderated Cultural Technology modules for Liverpool and XJTLU. 

I am a registered PhD supervisor and part of the Visible Institute research group at Kingston. I am interested in supervising doctoral candidates with practice-based projects focused on documentary filmmaking and distribution, creative reuse of the archive or reframing political history.

Undergraduate courses taught

Postgraduate courses taught

Case studies

O'sullivan, Shane and Chambers, Ciara [Collaborator] (2021) Archives for education: opening up the archives to young filmmakers. Internal Kingston University Report, unpublished.

As cultural heritage organisations digitise their collections and increase public access, the creative reuse of archive material remains problematic, beset by questions of copyright law and “fair use” exceptions. The Archives for Education project pioneered by Dr O’Sullivan provides a new model for the licensing and creative reuse of archive film in higher education, giving student filmmakers access to 200 films from the archives of the BBC, the BFI National Archive, Northern Ireland Screen and the Irish Film Institute. 68 institutions have signed up to the scheme, allowing student filmmakers to access these films for creative reuse on course-related projects for the first time, connecting their vision of Britain today with archival representations from their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. This represents a large majority of universities offering film production courses in the UK. In July 2020, Dr O’Sullivan and Dr Ciara Chambers (University College Cork) were awarded research network funding by AHRC and the Irish Research Council to expand the scheme beyond higher education to young filmmakers in education and training across the UK and Ireland.

O'sullivan, Shane (2021) Developing and delivering teaching excellence as course leader of BA Film. Internal Kingston University Report, unpublished.

In 2017, the university consolidated film provision within KSA and decided to teach out BA (Hons) Film due to perceived competition for students with BA Filmmaking. I was appointed course leader in September 2017 and successfully managed the smooth transition of the course team and students from FASS to KSA, with minimal disruption to the student experience or team morale after the voluntary redundancy of two long-serving colleagues. This is evidenced by the 2018 NSS results, which show a student satisfaction rate of 92%, the highest in the recent history of the degree, up 29% year-on-year. There were significant improvements under all key themes, with Learning Community up 20%. In 2016, BA Film Studies was rebranded BA Film, shifting the balance between theory and practice modules from 75:25 to 50:50. As evidenced by MEQ data, I oversaw the successful validation and roll-out of three new filmmaking modules for the final intake of students: (FI5005, FI5006 and FI6012). These were all commended by the external examiners, whose feedback on the course was extremely positive during my three years of course leadership, praising the innovative assessment strategies and noting “the standards of assessment and feedback have been consistently outstanding.”

This list was generated on Tue Sep 28 06:47:00 2021 BST.

Research

My research includes three archive-driven feature documentaries on political history, RFK Must Die (2008), Children of the Revolution (2010) and Killing Oswald (2013); two books on political history; and published articles on film history, intelligence studies, documentary distribution and the use of moving image archive in education.

Drawing on my professional knowledge of creative reuse and licensing archival material, I devised a pilot at Kingston in 2017 to give student filmmakers access to 12 documentaries from the BFI National Archive for creative reuse on course-related projects under an educational license. The success of the pilot led to the creation of the Archives for Education scheme and the AHRC-funded Make Film History project, which offer free access to 200 films from the BFI, BBC Archive, Northern Ireland Screen and the Irish Film Institute for creative reuse by young filmmakers: www.archivesforeducation.com

Sixty-nine higher education institutions have signed up to the scheme, which has now expanded beyond higher education to young filmmakers in schools and training programmes across the UK and Ireland. I am the UK Principal Investigator on the Make Film History project, alongside Irish PI, Dr Ciara Chambers (University College Cork). An impact case study on the scheme will be included in Kingston's REF 2021 submission. 

Areas of specialism

  • Documentary filmmaking and distribution
  • Creative reuse of archive material
  • Political history
  • Intelligence studies

Scholarly affiliations

  • Learning on Screen Copyright Advisory Panel
  • National Association for Higher Education in the Moving Image (NAHEMI)
  • Working Lead, Screen Heritage Group, Documentary Film Council
  • Kingston University Peer Review College

Case studies

O'sullivan, Shane and Chambers, Ciara [Collaborator] (2021) Archives for education: opening up the archives to young filmmakers. Internal Kingston University Report, unpublished.

As cultural heritage organisations digitise their collections and increase public access, the creative reuse of archive material remains problematic, beset by questions of copyright law and “fair use” exceptions. The Archives for Education project pioneered by Dr O’Sullivan provides a new model for the licensing and creative reuse of archive film in higher education, giving student filmmakers access to 200 films from the archives of the BBC, the BFI National Archive, Northern Ireland Screen and the Irish Film Institute. 68 institutions have signed up to the scheme, allowing student filmmakers to access these films for creative reuse on course-related projects for the first time, connecting their vision of Britain today with archival representations from their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. This represents a large majority of universities offering film production courses in the UK. In July 2020, Dr O’Sullivan and Dr Ciara Chambers (University College Cork) were awarded research network funding by AHRC and the Irish Research Council to expand the scheme beyond higher education to young filmmakers in education and training across the UK and Ireland.

This list was generated on Tue Sep 28 06:46:59 2021 BST.

Publications

Number of items: 15.

Article

O'Sullivan, Shane (2018) This film is restricted : the training films of the British Security Service. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 38(2), pp. 275-295. ISSN (print) 0143-9685

O'Sullivan, Shane (2017) Meinhof, Shigenobu, Kennedy : revolution and assassination in 1968. VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture, 6(12), pp. 12-40. ISSN (online) 2213-0969

O'Sullivan, Shane (2017) Archives for education : the creative reuse of moving images in the UK. The Moving Image, 17(2), pp. 1-19. ISSN (print) 1532-3978

O'Sullivan, Shane (2013) The economy of memory: Archive-driven documentaries in the digital age. The Journal of Media Practice, 14(3), pp. 231-248. ISSN (print) 1468-2753

Book

O'Sullivan, Shane (2018) Dirty tricks: Nixon, Watergate and the CIA. New York : Skyhorse Publishing. 576p. ISSN (print) 9781510729582

O'Sullivan, Shane, ed. (2016) In jail with Sirhan Sirhan. London, U.K. : Shane O'Sullivan. 484p.

O'Sullivan, Shane (2008) Who killed Bobby? The unsolved murder of Robert F. Kennedy. New York, U.S.A. : Union Square Press. 551p. ISBN 9781402754449

Book Section

O'Sullivan, Shane (2017) The rise of the feature documentary : fact or fiction? In: Wroot, Jonathan and Willis, Andy, (eds.) DVD, Blu-ray and beyond : navigating formats and platforms within media consumption. Cham, Switzerland : Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 135-157. ISBN 9783319627571

O'Sullivan, Shane (2016) Enemy of the state : framing the political assassin. In: de Valk, Mark, (ed.) Screening the tortured body : the cinema as scaffold. London, U.K. : Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 281-317. ISBN 9781137399175

Conference or Workshop Item

O'Sullivan, Shane (2015) Persona non grata : spy fiction in MI5 training films. In: Spying on spies : popular representations of spies and espionage; 03 - 05 Sep 2015, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)

O'Sullivan, Shane (2015) Documentaries and the UK home video market. In: Distributors, discs and disciples : exploring the home media renaissance; 23 May 2015, Worcester, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Moving Image/Broadcast

O'Sullivan, Shane [Director] (2018) Anatomy of a murder : Sirhan Sirhan and Robert Kennedy. (Video).

O'Sullivan, Shane [Creator] (2016) Anatomy of a murder : Sirhan Sirhan and Robert Kennedy. (Film).

O'Sullivan, Shane [Director] (2013) Killing Oswald. (Documentary).

Thesis

O'Sullivan, Shane (2013) Enemies of the state: framing political subversives in documentary film. (PhD thesis), Roehampton University, uk.bl.ethos.580551.

This list was generated on Tue Sep 28 06:43:37 2021 BST.

Leadership and management

Public and CIVIC roles

  • Festival Committee, Kingston International Film Festival

Social media

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