Dr Paolo Russo


Senior Lecturer in Film Studies

School of Arts


Paolo Russo is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Oxford Brookes University (UK) where he researches and teaches screenwriting, story development (feature, short, serial drama) and film history. He is on the editorial boards of Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies (Intellect) and L’Avventura - International Journal of Italian Film and Media Landscapes (Il Mulino). He published a History of Italian Cinema (2008), an edited volume on screenwriting in Italy (2014), articles on the Journal of Screenwriting and several chapters in edited books.

A former script reader, ghost writer and story editor, and video-game localizer, he is also a professional screenwriter. He co-wrote the feature Three Days of Anarchy, which premiered at the 2006 Tokyo Film Festival and went on to 30+ festivals all over the world. More recently, he has been working on TV serial drama and animation projects, currently in development as Co-Creator and Head Writer of Burns with Cysa Productions and as Staff Writer on Topo Gigio - The Series.

Areas of expertise

Screenwriting, story development and formats, serial TV (drama and comedy), film theory, history and criticism, film analysis, migration in film and TV, complex system theory applied to screen narratives.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

  • Story Development (MA)
  • Screenwriting for Film and Television (UG)
  • Screenwriting: Craft and Practice (UG)
  • Film History (UG)
  • Dissertation (UG, supervision)

Modules taught in previous years include: Film Project, Film Production Management and Practice, Film Form and Technical Skills, Film Genres, Cinema and technology, European New Waves, Realism in Film, Documentary filmmaking.

  • Visiting lecturer, MFA Writing for TV, Stephens College residency programme at Jim Henson Studio, Hollywood (2017, 2019)
  • Visiting lecturer, MA in Digital Media Practice, University of Rome 3 (2017)
  • Visiting lecturer, MA in Film Aesthetics, University of Oxord (2012)
  • Invited lecturer, Oxford University Day School, University of Oxford (2012-2016)
  • Visiting lecturer, PG Seminar Programme, University of Reading (2007)
  • University of Oxford, Pembroke College, AHRC Joint Postgraduate Programme (2006, 2007)
  • University of Dayton, International Programme in Rome (2006)
  • University of Rome 3, PG programme in Film Studies (2006)
  • University of Rome La Sapienza, MA in Film Development (sponsored by Cinecittà Studios, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Rai Cinema, Istituto Luce, Venice Film Festival) (2006)


I welcome proposals for PhD supervision in the following areas of inquiry: screenwriting studies, screenplay writing (research by practice), film theory, history and criticism, film analysis, narrative, serial TV (especially drama), archival research, industry and laws about cinema, body and technology in film (including posthumanism, cyberpunk, AI), film philosophy, migration in film and TV.


Research group membership

At Oxford Brookes:

  • Creative Industries Research Network
  • Migration and Refugees Research Network




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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

Editorial Boards


  • 12th Screenwriting Research Network International Conference, Catholic University of Portugal, Porto, September 2019 – Paper: 'The Maze and the Door: “hosted” serial (posthuman) narratives as Turing tests in Westworld'
  • 11th Screenwriting Research Network International Conference, Catholic University of Milan, September 2018 – Paper: 'Suburra from novel (to trial) to feature to TV serial'
  • 9th Screenwriting Research Network International Conference, University of Leeds, September 2016 – Paper: 'HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Constraining history into the serial drama format'
  • 'Cinema & History. Time, Memory, Identity in the Images of the New Millennium' International Conference, University of Rome 3, November 2017 – Paper: 'Fictionalizing history in Boardwalk Empire'
  • 8th Screenwriting Research Network International Conference, IGRS – University College London, September 2015 – Paper: 'Towards A Cognitive Poetics of TV Serial Drama Narrative'
  • Invited speaker: Conference 'The Legacy of Pier Paolo Pasolini', Yale University, March 2015 – Paper: 'Between Affective Incongruency and Perverse Allegiance: The Problem of Viewers' Engagement in Salo'
  • Invited speaker: 13th MAGIS International Film Studies Spring School, University of Gorizia, March 2015. Paper: 'Puzzling cyborgism in Nirvana'
  • 7th Screenwriting Research Network International Conference, Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf, Potsdam-Babelsberg, October 2014 – Paper: 'From Romanzo Criminale to Gomorra. Exporting the Italian Writers’ Room Model'
  • 2nd CRISA International Conference: 'Contemporary myths and culture between Europe and America' University of Rome 3, May 2014 – Paper: 'Rome! By all means, Rome. Mitopoiesi della “grande bellezza” di Roma attraverso il cinema americano e italiano'
  • Invited keynote speaker: CRISA International Seminar, University of Rome 3, May 2014 – Key note: 'Separazione/Iniziazione/Ritorno: la forza del mito nelle strutture narrative del cinema americano postclassico'
  • 6th Screenwriting Research Network International Conference, University of Wisconsin, Madison, September 2013 – Paper/Research workshop: ‘Encyclopedia of Screenwriting project’
  • ASMI Conference, IGRS - University College London, November 2012 – Paper: ‘Giuseppe De Santis’s cinema of protest’
  • ‘Words & Images: Screenwriting Research’, 5th Screenwriting Research Network International Conference, Macquarie University-University of Technology Sydney, September 2012 – Paper: ‘Politics, censorship and screenwriting: rewriting film history through archival research’
  • ‘The Other inside and out: Italy and the Mediterranean’, Conference of Mediterranean Studies, California State University in Rome, June 2012 – Paper: ‘Migration in mainstream and independent Italian films’
  • International conference of Leverhulme Trust Research Hub on Migration in Italy, University of Oxford, April 2012 – Paper: ‘A procedural epistemology of narrative and narration in migration films’
  • ‘Contemporary Representations of Organised Crime in Italy and Beyond’ conference, University of Kent, Canterbury, June 2011 – Paper: ‘Complex narrative, genre and mise-en-scene in Gomorrah
  • Cine-Excess V ‘Subverting the Senses: The Politics and Aesthetics of Excess’ conference, London, May 2011 – Paper: ‘Masochism and pornography in The 120 Days of Sodom
  • Leverhulme Trust Research Hub conference on Migration in Italy, CUNY, February 2011 – Paper: ‘Mise-en-scène in genre films about migration’
  • ‘The Image’ conference, UCLA, December 2010 – Paper: “The CSI format. Use of CAQDA software for a quantitative/qualitative analysis of narrative in film and TV series: a pilot project’
  • Leverhulme Trust Research Hub conference on Migration in Italy, Monash Centre, Prato, September 2010 – Paper: ‘Migration as a social and cultural issue in genre films: The Unknown Woman
  • Film-Philosophy Conference III, University of Warwick, July 2010 – Paper: ‘Puzzle narrative in cyberpunk films’
  • Invited speaker, round table on Dario Argento with Dario Argento and Xavier Mendik, University of Rome 3, May 2010
  • Invited speaker, round table on Dario Argento with Vito Zagarrio and Xavier Mendik, University of Lecce, May 2010
  • ‘Crisis and Rebirth in Contemporary Italian cinema’ conference, University of Warwick, January 2010 – Paper: ‘Masochism and pornography in The 120 Days of Sodom
  • ‘Popular Italian Cinema’ conference, King’s College London, May 2009 – Paper: ‘Stars and sexuality: the boycott of Giuseppe De Santis’s dangerous body politics’
  • Leverhulme Trust Research Hub conference on Migration in Italy workshop on Migration in Italy, Said Business School, Oxford, February 2009 – Paper: ‘Proposals for a research project on migration in Italian contemporary cinema’
  • Co-organizer of the Society for Italian Studies 2008 Postgraduate Conference, University of Reading
  • ‘Le frontiere del Sud’ conference, University of Amsterdam, April 2008 – Paper: ‘Poetics of displacement in contemporary Italian cinema’
  • Italian Studies Day workshop, Queen Mary University, London, January 2008 – Paper: ‘The need for a new approach to Italian Film Studies in UK universities’
  • ‘Mind/Body’ conference, University of Reading, July 2007 – ‘Cyborgized bodies and digital death’
  • Biennial Conference of the Society for Italian Studies, University of Bangor, July 2007 – ‘Ideologized female bodies in the films by Giuseppe De Santis’
  • ‘Italy on Screen’ conference, IGRS - University College London, 2007 – ‘Cyberpunk mythic narrative in Nirvana
  • Society for Italian Studies Postgraduate Colloquium, University of Bristol, 2006 – ‘Body and subjectivity in Gabriele Salvatores’s cinema’
  • Society for Italian Studies Conference, IGRS - University College London, 2006 – ‘Dialectics of spaces in Dario Argento’s films’
  • International Postgraduate Colloquium on the Sociology of Culture, University of Trento, 2006 – ‘Dangerous games: mutations of culture and games in contemporary cinema’
  • International conference ‘Dalla pagina allo schermo. Registi e scrittori: la nuova generazione’, University of Tuscia-Viterbo, 2003 – ‘Cinema and literature: past and recent trends’
  • Keynote speaker. Caffé Storico Letterario Giubbe Rosse, Florence, 2003 – Keynote: ‘Film Pathé en pochette and the emergence of the visual culture in the early years of cinema’
  • International conference Overlooking: Stanley Kubrick oltre lo sguardo, University of Rome 3/Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, January 1998 – Paper: ‘A-Z of Kubrick’s cinema’
  • Postgraduate conference, University of Florence, April 1997. Paper: ‘Cinema and education’

Further details

Press, publicity and reviews

Burns drama series (Co-creator and Head Writer) option announced by CYSA Productions, starring Jack Huston:

Press clippings for Topo Gigio - The Series (staff writer):

Other experience

  • Professional screenwriter
  • Videogame localization
  • Professional script reader

Further information