Derek Long

Derek Long's picture
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Film
Office Hours:
  • Thursdays 1:30 - 3:30 PM
  • And by appointment
Expertise and Activities: 

My research focuses on the industrial history of American cinema. My dissertation, “(Re)Programming the Movies: Distribution Planning and Production Control in the Early Studio System,” examines the shifting and mutually determined relationship between film distribution and “macro-scale” production planning from 1915 to 1924. Using primary evidence from corporate production and distribution records, correspondence, and the trade press, I argue that over the course of the late teens and early twenties, the major distributors developed precise mechanisms of macro- scale production control. This set of practices, which in the mid-teens operated at the level of the studio plant and served primarily to keep costs consistent, had transformed by 1924 into a system that operated in tandem with distribution planning to control inputs, schedule and differentiate releases through tiering, and maximize profits.

I am also interested in applying digital tools, particularly the computational analysis of large-scale quantitative and qualitative datasets, to industrial questions of film and media history. I am currently developing and curating two datasets. The first stores filmographic information based on Lauritzen and Lundquist’s American Film-Index (, allowing scholars to contribute their own well- sourced data as well as reference and comment upon the data of others. I have also built a database of cost ledgers from the records of the 4500 Sunset Boulevard studios from 1914-17 (

I am in charge of data curation and management for a grant project I co-authored, funded as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “Digging Into Data” Challenge. The project, known as Arclight (, maps “trends” in media history as a way of quantitatively assessing the cultural influence of stars, films, studios, the trade press, and other institutions. You can try out the Arclight app here (try searching for a favorite classical Hollywood star).

My other research interests include the history and aesthetics of animation (particularly the early history of Warner Bros.), early cinema, broadcasting history, avant-garde and cult cinema, and low-budget and B-film production and distribution.

For more information on my teaching, research, and digital projects, see my professional website.


  • M.A. Film Studies, Emory University, 2010
  • B.A. History, Middlebury College, 2008


  • The Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award (shared with Eric Hoyt and The Media History Digital Library and University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Communication Arts Teams) , Society for Cinema and Media Studies , 2014
  • Helen K. Herman Award , Department of Communication Arts , 2013
  • Co-author of successful NEH Digging Into Data Challenge grant , Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council , 2013



  • 2015. "Production Control and the Early Studio System: Star Tiering and Feature Differentiation at Fox, 1917-21," Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference , Monreal, Quebec, Canada , March 27, 2015 .
  • 2014. "Feature Standardization at 4500 Sunset Boulevard: Notes from the Reliance-Majestic and Triangle-Fine Arts Cost Ledgers, 1914-17," Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference , Seattle, WA , March 23, 2014 .
  • 2013. "The Influence of the Vitaphone Short on the Industrial Logics of Early Warner Bros. Animation," Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference , Chicago, IL , March 10, 2013 .
  • 2012. "Feuillade in America: New Evidence on the Distribution and Reception of Fantomas and Les Vampires in the United States, 1913-1920," Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference , Boston, MA , March 21, 2012 .
  • 2010. "A Great Guy with Something to Sing About: James Cagney, Star Authorship, and Grand National Pictures," On, Archives!: A Conference on Media, Theater and History - Sponsored by the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research , Madison, WI , July 08, 2010 .


  • CA 100 - Introduction to Speech Composition
  • CA 155 - Introduction to Digital Media Production
  • CA 552 - American Cinema Since 1970
  • CA 357 - History of Animation
Curriculum Vitae: