Spotlight on Chris O'Rourke

25 June 2014

Spotlight on Chris O'Rourke

This week the spotlight is on Dr. Chris O'Rourke, Research Associate, UCL Centre for Humanities Interdisciplinary Research Projects (CHIRP)/UCL Film Studies.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am a Research Associate funded by CHIRP, and I specialise in British cinema history.

My current research is about early cinemas and cinema-going in London. I also teach a module about film exhibition on the MA in Film Studies through the Centre for Multidisciplinary & Intercultural Inquiry (CMII), and I’ve done some teaching on the Urban Studies MSc and the BA in English.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I joined UCL in autumn 2012. Before that, I was completing a PhD at the University of Cambridge.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I was really glad to be involved with the UCL Dig Where We Stand initiative last year. The group I was attached to were working with the Cinema Museum on a Heritage Lottery Funded project about memories of cinema-going around Kennington and Elephant and Castle, where there are currently no cinemas. It attracted quite a lot of interest from local residents, and the whole scheme seemed like a positive way of forming links between researchers and people outside of a university setting.

I also enjoyed being part of the Festival of the Arts this year, leading walking tours around some of the old cinema sites in the West End. Maybe I’m just looking for excuses to get away from my desk!

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

Right now, I am writing up the research I have been doing into the early history of cinema in the West End. The larger project that this comes out, which is still ongoing, involves creating a geo-database of all the cinemas that were operating in London before 1930.

I am also writing a book about the craze for film acting in 1920s Britain, which is based on part of my doctoral research.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album – Probably Vespertine by Björk.

Film – There are too many to choose from, but Black Narcissus is a definite contender.

Novel – I’m not sure if it’s my favourite, but I read Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666 a few years ago, and it still sticks in my head.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

There are a lot of friends I don’t get to see as often as I would like, so at the moment they would be my dream dinner guests. And Joan Rivers for the one-liners.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Worry less about what other people think of you.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I once had a job on a film set as Ralph Fiennes’s stand-in.

What is your favourite place?

Inside a cinema on a rainy day with a box of popcorn.