Dr Alaina Schempp

Dr Alaina Schempp

Department of Film and Creative Writing
Lecturer in Film

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My academic film research focuses on the temporal nature of the moving image. I’m interested in philosophical and psychological explanations for how timing in movies affect the emotions. Taking an analytic-cognitive approach to the study of emotion in film, I specialise in the micro-analysis of comic and suspense timing in contemporary cinema, especially genres such as comedy, action, horror, and the suspense-thriller. My other research interests include analytic-cognitive media studies (e.g. video games, comics, and online video), film and television for people with hearing loss and cognitive decline, analytic-cognitive approaches to feminism, and writing for the screen as an art form.

I am also a screenwriter. My screenplays have won several awards including the Avery Hopwood Award Winner for Best Screenplay, the Leonard and Eileen Newman Prize in Dramatic Writing, and the Peter and Barbara Benedek Award for Best Screenplay.

Academia.edu: https://bham.academia.edu/AlainaSchempp


  • PhD in Film, University of Kent, Canterbury (UK)
  • MA in Media Studies, University of Amsterdam (NL)
  • BA in Film & Video Studies and English Language & Literature, University of Michigan (USA)


I received my BA in 2006 from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where I double-majored in English Language & Literature and Film & Video Studies with a minor in Screenwriting. I practiced screenwriting and worked as a freelance video editor in Los Angeles before completing a research MA in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam in 2012. I received a PhD in Film Studies from the University of Kent, Canterbury in 2019 with a dissertation entitled A Poetics of Time and Timing in the Moving Image, which I am currently turning into a book.


  • Introduction to Film Studies: Styles and Forms
  • Creative Practice: Film
  • Discovering Creative Practice
  • Film Culture & Media Skills
  • Filmmaking
  • Studying Film A
  • Studying Film B
  • Film Theory and Criticism
  • Screenwriting: Film
  • Film Production Project
  • Professional Skills
  • Guided Project in Editing and Production (MA)
  • AV Dissertation (MA)

Postgraduate supervision

I’m interested in supervising MA and PhD research projects or practice as research projects in film theory and the philosophy of the moving image, film and emotion, temporality and timing of film, television, video, and other media such as video games and comics, as well as analytic-cognitive and neo-formalist approaches to film and media studies. I’d be particularly keen to supervise film and media research projects or practice as research projects that examine screenwriting as an artform, feminism, LGBTQ+ studies, cultural analysis, and/or new media.

Find out more - our PhD Film Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My current research interests include the perception of temporality and timing in the moving image with special attention to comic and suspense timing in contemporary genre films. I have presented my research at international conferences including the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image Conference, the International Conference for Philosophy and Film, the Conference for Cognitive Futures in the Humanities, and the British Psychological Society Conference on Temporal Experience.

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