PhD Student Profile


Jan Dunn

PhD Student

School: Creative Arts and Industries

Campus: Canterbury

Biographical note

Jan is entering her field of academic research as a mature student following a career as a filmmaker and is one of the few UK women film directors with a track record. She originally trained as an actor at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London in the late 1980s. After a ten year career as a stage actress she studied film production at the prestigious National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield. Her debut feature film in 2005 was No37 of the official dogme95 film movement, a social commentary fiction titled Gypo which went on to receive the BIFA for Best Production and other international accolades. She has written and directed two further theatrically released feature films and has written other original screenplays and has adapted best-selling novels for the screen. Much of her work either as a screenwriter or director, and her early career working in documentary film has involved detailed research and in the late 1990s she was on the professional researcher’s register for film and TV. In 2018 she graduated as a mature student with her BA (Hons) History Degree with the OU. She founded the charity Kent Film Foundation in 2010 as a means of inspiring talented young people out of the poverty trap, having grown up in poverty herself. She is one of the lead tutors for the BFI youth film academy for the South East of England and runs the film production company Violet Pictures which specialises in releasing highly acclaimed documentary feature films that have included the Emmy Award winning After Tiller, that follows the story of the only four remaining doctors in the US who carry out late term abortions, The Galapagos Affair; Satan Came to Eden, about a series of unsolved disappearances on the Galapagos Island of Floreana in the 1930s. More recently the award winning The Silence of Others, executive produced by Pedro Almodovar about the struggle of victims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco who continue to seek justice to this day. Her company is currently finding innovative new ways to release feature films during Covid19 lockdown with Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project.

Jan was the “industry advisor” for the film and media department of Canterbury Christ Church University for a number of years long before embarking upon her MPhil/PhD.

She is a full voting member of BAFTA, full member of Directors UK, full member of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She served on the Board of Directors of the trade body Women in Film and TV UK for two terms of two years, has served on the Board of Directors for Kent Film Office when it originally set up and was over seen by a board of trustees and she is founder and has served as a Trustee for the charity Kent Film Foundation. She has served on the Jury of Brief Encounters Short Film Festival Bristol and on the Jury of Ramsgate International Film Festival.

PhD Research Topic

A cross disciplinary practice-based historical investigation of female-masculinity by use of archive and case studies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Research outline

The research is a qualitative historical study in re-reading gender history from the perspective of women’s history and revealing previously unexplored queer history at the same time. The process will supply socio-historic context to women who defied what was expected of their gender leading up to a period of history where the feminist movement and gay rights activism enabled change to begin.

Factual data researched and gathered from archives including historical documents such as newspaper articles and reports, both still and moving images, diaries, academic study and first hand recollections shall form the content. Individual characters shall form into a chronological order of study in the journey from early research in to female masculinity observed by the male medical profession of the early nineteenth century through to the end of the twentieth century. A time that heralded the division between the butch dyke and the transman and where the foundations were laid for the beginning of the non-binary gender revolution.

As a practice-based thesis the study shall take the form of filmed and edited primary and secondary sourced interviews from academics, writers, historians and social commentators to present research findings undertaken into a long form feature length documentary film.

Supervisory Team

  • Dr Sam Vale (first supervisor)
  • Professor Carolyn Oulton (chair)

Research Output

Jan’s research project is a practise-based research project within the film & media department of the Arts and Humanities faculty. Therefore the below list of released feature length films is offered as an equivalent of publications:

Dunn, J written & directed by Gypo (2005) Released by Lionsgate Films (UK distributor), Wolfe Releasing (US distributor)

Dunn, J written & directed by Ruby Blue (2008) Released by Guerilla Films (UK distributor), Wolfe Releasing (US distributor)

Dunn, J written & directed by The Calling (2010) Released by Guerilla Films (UK distributor), Arrow Entertainment (US distributor)

Teaching Experience

Lead Guest Film Tutor – 2012 – 2020 BFI Film Academy Screen South

Masterclass Guest Lectures:

Hallam University (filmmaking)

The MET School (scriptwriting)

Colorado Film School (filmmaking)


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Last edited: 10/08/2020 10:51:00