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Sarah Atkinson

Dr Sarah Atkinson

Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures

Head of the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries

Sarah Atkinson-154-croppedEmail 
Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1595
Culture, Media and Creative Industries
King’s College London 
1.05 Chesham Building
Strand Campus
WC2R 2LS  





Sarah has been publishing, researching and teaching in the areas of Digital Storytelling and Digital Audience Cultures for 15 years.

Sarah was Principal Lecturer in Film & Media (2006-2015) and Assistant Head of School of Art, Design and Media (2012-2015) at the University of Brighton, having held previous positions at the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Salford.

Sarah has a BA Honours, First Class in Media with Cultural Studies (Southampton Institute, 1998) and a practice-based PhD in Interactive Storytelling (Brunel University, 2009).

Sarah’s research embraces practice and theory to offer new understandings of the aesthetics, formal qualities and reception of emergent narrative phenomena.

As well as publishing extensively in these areas, she also adopts practice-based methodologies through the creation of her own original works. Her interactive cinema installation Crossed Lines has been exhibited internationally and The Anatomy of a Film – an interactive documentary featurette – was included on both the Artificial Eye UK Blu-ray release and Lionsgate’s USA DVD release of Ginger & Rosa, (Dir: Sally Potter 2012).

Research Interests and PhD supervision
  • Digital Audience Cultures
  • Transmedia Industries, Audiences and Storytelling
  • Emergent modes of Film & Cinema Spectatorship
  • Digital filmmaking: cultures and industries
  • Digital Archives: methodologies, practices and audience access

The main body of Sarah’s work is located in the new and fast-moving discipline of digital audience and transmedia studies and is focused upon the nature of emergent narratives, and new modes of audience access and engagement.

Sarah has addressed her subject through analyses of narrative, text, process, apparatus and audience, and her current concerns are captured in her two monographs:

Beyond the Screen presents an expanded conceptualization of cinema which encompasses the myriad ways film can be experienced in a digitally networked society where the auditorium is now just one location amongst many in which audiences can encounter and engage with films. The book includes considerations of mobile, web, social media and live cinema through numerous examples and case studies of recent and near-future developments.

From Film practice to Data Processexamines the different ways that the business, processes, and personnel behind film production are currently presented to future audiences and the wider public by the film industry itself through its various channels of media communication. The book adopts a case study approach; including interviews with film industry professionals and key examples of current practice within the film industry.  The case studies are situated within the wider global ecosystem of the film production economy in the context of a period of significant change as practices & processes transition from analogue to digital.

Sarah would welcome PhD projects that are concerned with the examination of digital audience cultures; transmedia industries; emergent film & cinema spectator practices and behaviours, and digital filmmaking cultures & industries.

Selected Publications


  • Atkinson, Sarah. (2015) From Film Practice to Data process: Production Aesthetics and Representational Practices of a Film Industry in Transition, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (Contracted - Forthcoming, 2016).
  • Atkinson, Sarah. (2014) Beyond the Screen: Emerging Cinema and Engaging Audiences, New York: Bloomsbury.

Journal Articles:

  • Atkinson, Sarah. (2015) Interactive ‘making-of’ machines: The performance and materiality of the processes, spaces and labor of VFX production, Spectator - The University of Southern California Journal of Film and Television, 35:1 (Spring 2015), 36-46.
  • Atkinson, Sarah. and Kennedy, Helen. (2015) Tell no one: Cinema as game-space - Audience participation, performance and play, G|A|M|E: The Italian Journal of Game Studies, Number 4/2015.
  • Atkinson, Sarah. (2014) Transmedia Critical | The Performative Functions of Dramatic Communities: Conceptualizing Audience Engagements in Transmedia Fiction, International Journal of Communication 8 (2014), 2201–2219.
Expertise and Public Engagement

Sarah has been engaged in a number of public engagement activities through her research.

Her AHRC-funded DEEP FILM Access project (DFAP) 2014-15 - a collaboration between film researchers, computer scientists, archival institutions and a film production company - researched the potential role of semantic technology in film production, focussing on how a semantic infrastructure could contribute to the integration of the data and metadata generated during the film production lifecycle. This project has involved the delivery of public workshops and specialist PhD training sessions.

Her current project, 'Tracking Intellectual Property Across the Creative Technologies' (TRI-PACT), funded by an AHRC Digital Transformations grant, has been designed to advance the research agenda and to stimulate creative and strategic thinking around the management, protection, sharing, access, use and reuse by drawing together a group of key stakeholders - practitioners, researchers, educationalists, industry partners, archivists and legal specialists – in a number of industry focussed workshops.

Sarah is currently working with Live Cinema UK, to undertake the first piece of national industry research into the Live Cinema economy, in partnership with Helen Kennedy at the University of Brighton and funded by Arts Council England Grants. Sarah has recently been interviewed by the BBC and Le Monde about this project.

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