Hello, my name is Dr. Katie Bird and I am a TT assistant professor in film studies and digital media production in the department of Communication at the The University of Texas at El Paso in the department of Communication. I received my PhD in Film and Media Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and I am currently working on a book manuscript Embodied Hollywood: How workers made their Labor Matter to the Movies, 1919-1985. Embodied Hollywood is a historical study of how technical workers in the Hollywood studio system turned manual labor into artistic craft and set the standards for an industry. The book makes the case that craft organizations, unions, and practitioners utilized images and the language of physical work to promote bodily labor’s impact on film style.
My research explores the history of technical filmmaking crafts including cinematography and editing and niche practitioners like Steadicam operators. This historical, theoretical and ethnographic research overlaps with scholarship in film history, film theory, media industries, production cultures, labor history, and cultural studies. I use archival and digital humanities methodologies to research and experiment with workers’ theories of their production labor.
I am currently working on my book manuscript Embodied Hollywood, an article about the American Cinema Editor’s Educational Film and Teaching Tool “The Gunsmoke Exercise,” a chapter on the history of Hollywood studio laborers unions, and beginning research for a book on US Women camera operators working from the 1970s to the 1990s.
My work has been published in The Velvet Light Trap, Spectator, [in]Transition. In 2018, I won 3rd place in the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) writing awards for my essay “Sporting Sensations: Bela Balazs and the Bergfilm Camera Operator.” The article adapted from that essay is forthcoming in The Journal for Cinema and Media Studies (JCMS). My videographic research has been featured as a “best practices” example on the website Film Scalpel. I have also been interviewed about my research on the podcast Framing Media hosted by film scholar Dr. Peter Labuza.
I hold bachelor degrees in Film Production and English from Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, CA) and an MA in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA).