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Dr Dominic Lees

Co-lead of the university’s Cine Valley project, working with Shinfield Studios and other partners.

Co-ordinator of the Masters by Research in Film, Theatre & Television.

Industry Partnerships Co-lead (Film/TV)


I have been appointed by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of the House of Commons as Specialist Advisor to its inquiry into Film and High-End Television.

Areas of interest

My expertise is in Generative AI in the screen industries.  I publish and research in the fields of deepfakes, voice cloning, and text-to-video, with a particular emphasis on the ethics of creativity using AI technologies. As a public-facing academic expert on AI, I have provided expert interviews to national media (Sky News, BBC Radio) and provide deepfake fact-checking for international news organisations (Reuters, Boom Live India).  I am the lead writer on AI for the BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine.

My major research has been into deepfakes – the digital replacement of actors’ faces in film using systems of Artificial Intelligence.  I was Principal Investigator of the project Virtual Maggie (2019-20), which used a practice research methodology to explore how ‘machine learning’ could be used to digitally resurrect Margaret Thatcher in a contemporary drama. My work also examines the ethics and legal questions arising from deepfakes, and the impact on the performer in screen production. I am interested in the transformative impact of new technologies on the creative process in mainstream production, and on how deepfakes alter audiences’ relationship with screen fictions. 

I lead the Synthetic Media Research Network (SMRN), which brings together UK and international scholars, industry stakeholders and governmental bodies to consider the future of Generative AI technology.

My research is rooted in my professional experience as a director of television drama and independent feature film.  This career included directing forty episodes of mainstream drama series broadcast on UK terrestrial channels, as well as writing and directing the award-winning feature, Outlanders (2008).  I have also created multimedia screenwork for opera and worked as Associate Producer for programmes on Channel 4.

I write on aesthetics and style in television drama and film.  My co-authored book, Seeing It On Television (Bloomsbury, 2021), explores how high-end US TV drama is shaped by cultural discourse and production histories, and adopts a style-based critical methodology to closely examine the construction of meaning.

Postgraduate supervision

I am lead supervisor for a PhD project on non-linear film storytelling and I welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate research students with interests in fields related to film and television.  This might include topics such as: AI in film creativity, aesthetics in screen fiction, digital technologies in the film industries, screenwriting, and television studies.  I have experience in practice research and welcome students interested in this methodology.  If you are a filmmaker interested in branching into research, I would be interested to hear from you.


Much of my teaching draws on my professional experience as a director in film and television drama, as well as my research on theories of film practice.  I currently teach in these modules:

  • Creative Screen Practice
  • TV Studio Production
  • Film Practice or Dissertation

I have designed a new scriptwriting pathway in the department, together with my colleague Dr Lucy Tyler, and co-lead these modules.

Awards and honours

My creative work in film has been supported by funding awards from the British Council, the British Film Institute, the UK Film Council and the Senate of Berlin-Brandenburg.

My films have been selected for screening at dozens of international film festivals, including Venice, Edinburgh, Philadelphia and Rio de Janeiro. They have won awards including:

  • 2008 - Best Feature Film and Foreign Press Award (Cine Pobre International Film Festival, Cuba) for the feature film, Outlanders
  • 2008 - Best Film and Best Director (Bragacine International Film Festival, Portugal) for the feature film, Outlanders.

Professional bodies/affiliations

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)

Directors UK

British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS)

Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA)

Peer Reviewer for:
  • Sightlines: filmmaking in the academy (Australian Screen Production Education & Research Association, ASPERA).
  • Screenworks: the peer-reviewed online publication of practice research in screen media.

Selected publications

Lees, D (2023) ‘Deepfakes and documentary film production: images of deception in the representation of the real’, Studies in Documentary Film doi:

Guest Editor, Convergence: the international journal of research into new media technologies - Special Issue title: The Digital Face and Deep Fakes on Screen; publication date June 2021). 

Lees, D and Sexton, M (2021) Seeing it on Television: Televisuality in the Contemporary US ‘High-End’ series (New York: Bloomsbury Academic)

Lees, D, Bashford-Rogers, T and Keppel-Palmer, M. (2021) ‘The digital resurrection of Margaret Thatcher: creative, technological and legal dilemmas in the use of Deep Fakes in screen drama', Convergence: the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 27/4, 954-973.

Selected Filmmaking 

THE BURNING (2016).  Short film. Historical drama made as practice-as-research project.  Screened at RMIT Melbourne filmmaking research conference, ‘Sightlines’, Dec 2019

OUTLANDERS (2008) UK. Feature film, Sterling Pictures. UK theatrical release by Miracom.


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