Programme: Design - MPhil/PhD

Start date: September 2011

Mode of study: Part time

Research title: The impact of social media on documentary film making practice

Professional practitioners in the field of media and documentary production and educators alike have been challenged by the rise of social and digital media. In 2010 I began to wonder how social and digital media is influencing media and documentary production at micro SME level, which led to my original proposal: the impact of social media on documentary film-making practice.

In addition to a practice-led production approach, my work as a lecturer at NHTV, University of Applied Sciences, had significant input into research to date. Applied sciences are challenging; they require practical applications of research conducted. For those reasons I found myself investigating existing media theories surrounding the rise of social and digital media, while producing, directing work and applying research outcome. As a consequence research presented took on a dual perspective:  that of an educator in the field of media production in addition to the perspective of a micro SME producer.

Research focuses on the effectiveness of social media in identifying funding sources, better engagement of stake holders and audiences during development, production, post-production and distribution. Does social media have the capacity to free independent producers for the first time from the limitations of the traditional funding models, i.e. the commissioning editor? What exactly are the benefits and disadvantages to the micro SME producer, stakeholders and audiences, when making the development and production process more transparent?

Changing viewing habits among digital natives and immigrants alike are investigated, relevant literature is examined and results are peer reviewed.  Understanding the background and epistemology are essential to educators and producers in order to gain further insight into future developments on social and digital media. Are we merely observing another evolutionary step towards the ‘global village’ (Mcluhan) or an expansion of a Habermassian public sphere? Or is it reasonable to draw inspiration from C G Jung and his ideas on the collective unconscious? Perhaps we are observing for the first time the rise of a global, collective consciousness? How would such a global consciousness be defined beyond the Habermassian public sphere? How does it tie into Mcluhan’s ideas on media?

Social media is swiftly moving forward and at times it is difficult to keep track. Automation regarding audience engagement and retention is already within reach for those companies that can afford sophisticated content management systems. How can micro SME producers compete in this field? Should they outsource? Or establish a social media producer post in-house? When exactly should the social media producer become involved in a project? How should the position of the social media producer be defined? Drawing inspiration from family, friends, colleagues working as educators and producers, I would be more than delighted if my research can deliver a small contribution in this field, helping micro SME producers to compete in this fast moving field.


Fritz Kohle studied at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design and as a postgraduate at the Northern Media School, Sheffield Hallam University. He is currently studying for a Mphil/PhD at the University of Edinburgh, investigating the impact of social media on documentary production.Kohle began his career as a production assistant at companies such as the The Weather Channel UK, working his way up to become Location Manager for a Channel 4 UK feature film (Prometheus), Head of Productions at the Lux Centre London, and Field Producer for iBeam Europe.

As a freelance Producer and Production Manager he has produced episodes for Marienhof, one of Germany's most popular soaps, with a daily viewership exceeding 6 million. In collaboration with the Ludwigsburg Film Academy in Germany, he published the media handbook Medienmacher Heute. Kohle's projects include post-production management for Studio Babelsberg features in Berlin, such as Wim Wender's Soul of a Man, and Jackie Chan's 80 Days Around the World.In addition, he was also involved in various German soaps such as Notruf 110 and Tatort.

For two years Kohle was Bigfoot Entertainment's Head of Post Production in Cebu, the Philippines. In June 2007 he joined New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts as Assistant Director for the Production and Post-production Centre under David Irving and Oliver Stone, significantly contributing to the establishment of the NYU Singapore Campus.In 2009 he obtained tenure at NHTV, University of Applied Sciences, Breda, Netherlands, as a senior lecturer teaching Film & TV production, while continuing his professional production practice.