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F-ACTOR – Forms of Contemporary Media Professional Acting. Training, Recruitment and Management, Social Discourses in Italy (2000–2020)


F-ACTOR – Forms of Contemporary Media Professional Acting. Training, Recruitment and Management, Social Discourses in Italy (2000–2020)

Funder: MIUR
Scientific Director: Prof. Francesco Pitassio

F-ACTOR – Forms of Contemporary Media Professional Acting. Training, Recruitment and Management, Social Discourses in Italy (2000-2020)

Recently, performers stand out as crucial subjects within an increasingly transmedia environment. Performers embody many functions, because of their role and skills, professional relationships, and audiences: both creative and industrial. Examining performers as cultural industries agents, i.e. merging critical with a professional approach, pinpoints their role as part of a wider network of media professions, hierarchies and goals. Performers are important for historical, aesthetic and for functional reasons too.

The research project F-ACTOR. Forms of Contemporary Media Professional Acting. Training, Recruitment and Management, Social Discourses in Italy (2000-2020) investigates a specific space, Italy, and a contemporary period, the last two decades, to map and trace major shifts in acting for film and television. Moreover, the project inquires performers’ life cycle (from training to casting, from management to social discourses), to highlight its specific strategies and constraints: as a matter of fact, performers are part of the larger film and TV industries, and are subject to constant negotiations and arrangements.

The project relies on three different methods and perspectives, i.e. performance studies, stardom and celebrity studies, media production studies. Accordingly, it makes use of different toolkits (empirical data, ethnographical in-depth interviews, primary and secondary sources). The overall aim is providing a path-breaking and systemic approach to the media acting profession and to related professionals shaping performers’ careers from training to public acknowledgment in media discourses.
Thanks to previous successful researches on the topic, as researchers’ background witness, and consistent cooperation, along with the three years of project research units will investigate Italian contemporary professional acting at three different levels. These levels are crucial from both the performer’s career standpoint, and from film, TV production and distribution rationale. These are:

  • Training: Where do performers learn their trade and refine their skills? Is it in established institutions, such as national or local schools? Or are performers instructed in more informal and occasional frameworks, such as workshops? What are the main paths they follow? What are the dominant training methods and techniques? How do theatre academies and schools cope with designing new training programs, aimed at contemporary film and TV performance? How do training programs interact with media production routines?
  • Management and professional development: Where and how do media actors work? What are the routes and methods of professional recruitment in contemporary media production? Who are the agents of professional selection and management (e.g.: casting, talent agencies and talent scouts, agents)? How is a career established and who does contribute to maintaining it (agents, broadcasters’ talent agencies, production companies, labor organizations)? What kind of agreements, rights and security are available to contemporary actors? When and for what reasons this course of action fails?
  • Social discourses: How are actors professionally and socially acknowledged? Who promotes them (press offices, PR departments, publicists)? Do they increasingly self-promote their image, or do conventional mediators still oversee their promotion? What kind of rituals magnify and circulate the actors’ representation (junkets, interviews, events)? What is the function and logic of film and TV awards, TV markets, trade associations, and social media in enhancing and disseminating media actors?

The project benefits from a solid network of institutional partners and stakeholders (training schools and academies, film commissions, broadcasters, production companies, press agents etc.). The project involves them in different ways, i.e. as research subjects (interviews and focus groups), as advisors, and as counterparts monitoring and double-checking research outputs.

Among the project’s main deliverables are:

  • Regular meetings with main stakeholders, to foster knowledge exchange, monitor research outcomes, and increase academia/society cross-fertilization;
  • An “Observatory on Italian Media Performer”, presenting the project to a larger audience as green open access, and collecting data, publishing info-graphics and video interviews, and preparing yearly reports. Stakeholders are expected to be fully integrated into the observation desk.
  • Open access publications in national and international reference journals. A relevant part of the overheads will cover the Article Processing Costs for moving research outputs to gold open access.

The project has its main strengths in its cutting-edge mixed approach, in the systemic scope on film and television industry and the role actors and related intermediaries hold in it, and in bringing to the fore case histories, best practices and professional logics.