Coordinator: Alan O'Leary
This research unit is concerned with filmmaking as a means of research and scholarship. Filmmaking is used in academic fields as diverse as visual anthropology, design studies, performance studies, embodied research and screen studies, and scholarly journals are increasingly dedicated to the publication of films and video articles.
Filmmaking can be used a method to investigate a particular theme or phenomenon, as a medium to report or publicise research results, or it can be understood as a mode of thought in itself (what Spatz (2018) has dubbed ‘the video way of thinking’). Academic and research filmmaking therefore takes place in a variety of modes: from fictional storytelling to documentary record, from participatory filmmaking to experiments in found footage curation and remix, from illustrated argument to cryptic experiment. It often takes the form of practice research (or ‘practice-led’ research) in which, in order to generate new knowledge, filmmaking obeys protocols from the arts rather than the academy (such work is typically accompanied by explication in more conventional prose forms). Videographic criticism—the audiovisual study of audiovisual and screen media, often in the form of video essays—has been a particularly vibrant area in recent years, and has generated a number of different genres and procedures. These include the desktop documentary, concerned with the experience of the computer desktop and online existence, and constraint-based and algorithmic approaches to scholarship that can make videographic criticism an innovative form of digital humanities.
This research unit is concerned with a shared medium and common methods rather than with a standard research theme. It aims to bring together practitioners and scholars of filmmaking research, academic film and videographic criticism to debate the unique affordances of filmmaking as means and medium of investigation and communication. We ask: what are the political, epistemological, and aesthetic advantages of filmmaking in the academic context, and what are its potentials? What place is there for experimental approaches to filmmaking in academic practice? What are the institutional opportunities for and impediments to the adoption and development of filmmaking in the academy?
Associate Members (AU)
Paul Cooke, Centenary Chair in World Cinemas, University of Leeds
Catherine Grant, Honorary research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London
Ben Spatz, Reader in Media and Performance, University of Huddersfield