The quality of Mark's research on Japanese punk film production was recently recognised when he won the PhD Researcher of the Year 2018 Award for the Heritage and Creativity Theme. Through this achievement, Mark has proved that it is possible to have your research recognised despite studying part-time and not receiving studentship funding.
"My research seeks to analyse intermedial aesthetics - the fusions between different media - visible within an under-discussed cycle of do-it-yourself (DIY) Japanese film production from the 1970s and 80s. It looks at how this interrelates with the country's punk music and culture scene of that time, and the radically changing film industry."
Mark became aware of the Department of Film, Theatre & Television after seeing the University of Reading's branding on an advertisement for the Southwest and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWWDTP).
"Two members of the Department (now my supervisors) got in touch after I submitted my initial proposal and they were both very interested in working with me. Upon speaking with other members of staff from other universities within the SWWDTP consortium, I realised that Reading was the best equipped in terms of academic expertise. In a way, it was Reading that sort of chose me."
Mark is appreciative of the Minghella Studios in which the Department is based.
"I like the interdisciplinary nature of the space; there always seems to be something going on and I find it to be a stimulating environment."
Being able to study his PhD part-time has given Mark some advantages, the main being that it has given him time to think and rethink his ideas. This additional time has enabled him to accrue information and materials which he probably wouldn't have considered otherwise. Mark has found that his biggest challenge has been conducting research on obscure materials in a foreign language, however, Mark has been able to visit Japan in order to conduct fieldwork (made possible with funding from the British Association for Japanese Studies and additional financial support from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation), which has proved very productive.
Mark has some advice for first year PhD researchers, based on what he has learnt over the past four years:
"Embarking on a PhD is unlike any form of education you have previously done. It's natural to feel alienated or unsure about the value of your work at times, or even your own expertise in the subject. But remember that your research is unique and has something to offer the world, and as it grows, you grow as well."
After the completion of his PhD, Mark would like to become a university academic, which would enable him to combine teaching with his ongoing research interests in independent and DIY Japanese cinema.
Watch Mark introduce his research in this film
Find out about PhD opportunities within the Department of Film, Theatre & Television.