A Conference on the Contemporary Contexts and Possibilities of the Documentary, University of Westminster, January 2011
AVPhd Panel presentation by SCIS PhD student Kirsten MacLeod, “I film therefore I am: Process, Practice and Participation in Community based Filmmaking”.
Kirsten MacLeod (University of the West of Scotland)
This paper will explore examples of community-based media in Scotland, focusing on participation in the production process and the construction of identity and knowledge. Using a visual practice based methodology, the research focuses on fieldwork examples of community based, collaborative video production, in urban and rural areas of Scotland.
The paper is concerned with exploring community media as a transformative social process, a catalyst for new relationships, experience and knowledge about the world. It presents community documentary projects as a lens through which to explore issues of participation, representation, identity and knowledge within communities.
Taking a fluid approach to community as meaningful and symbolically constructed (Cohen), and to community media as covering a spectrum of media which serves, reflects or involves communities, geographically bounded, or of interest (Atton, Jankowski), this paper presents participation as part of an ongoing process of production, which lives on beyond the end product of the actual media itself, in the situated social experiences of its participants.
By examining the process of production, the research deconstructs the filmmaking process, exploring how people engage in filmmaking as participants, but also as members of the audience community. How meaningful is community media to communities who produce it, as a process and in the longer term once the end product is “out there”?
Through examples from Glasgow and islands on the West coast of Scotland, as well as broader trends in Scottish community media, the paper describes how community media channels the situated-ness of knowledge and identity.
The paper advocates a practice led methodology, where the research engages directly with the process of filming and draws reflexively and practically on the researcher and participants’ experiences.