Starting on Monday 3rd April, I will be partaking in a short course in film-making for development. This is just a little update which I wanted to share with you, as I am more than excited to be taking part.

The course is held by Postcode Films, which consists of a small team of experienced film-makers, editors, directors and producers. Although taking place at UEA, from which they have worked with a number of students for a number of years, the brief is to produce and edit a short film located somewhere within Norwich, about a particular person doing a particular action.

From my understanding, the course will equip participants with skills in film-making, from using audio and visual equipment, producing a treatment and location recce, an overview of the ethics and moral codes behind film-making, and editing, all of which can be applied within a development context later – if you wish, and of course, I do.

As I may have mentioned earlier in this blog, my interests lie with journalism and documentary films within a development context, hence why I am super excited to be taking part. I do, however, still need to refine an idea – I know, I know, I have left it a little late, however, what I am aiming to concentrate most on with this project, is the ability to tell a compelling story through the eyes of the protagonist, through a ‘bottom-up’ style, so to speak. Therefore, creating the right narrative is highly important.

Alongside generating and researching ideas, you can prepare for the course in another key way, which I have probably found to be the most helpful part of the process so far: watching other short documentary films produced by the directors from Postcode Films, and other students who have previously taken part in the course in previous years.

Having watched The Way of the BellsCrabs Gather Here and Seeds of Happiness, it has occurred to me just how important it is to have a strong protagonist who can tell their story confidently and well. It is clear that the students also paid particular attention to the audio used in their short documentary films, so as to enhance their film and accentuate their visuals. The editing, too, appears professional and well-thought through, which does demonstrate the standards that Postcode Films are looking for. So no pressure, hey?

Source: Aeon

I also came across another short docu/ethnographic film called ‘Unravel’ which illustrates the journey undertaken by the clothes which we, in the West, recycle.

The film has factual representations of workers sorting through and ‘slacking’ the clothes, and placing them back into vessels to re-weave them, all of which takes place in several towns in India. Most importantly, the film includes personality. The female workers who are given a voice (albeit we are not provided with any names) bring their work to life by commenting on the lifestyles of those in the West – an exotic place which the majority of them wish to explore, yet have never left the borders of India. They are entertained by the sizes of the jeans they find and the fact that most of the pieces they handle appear to be new and hardly even worn, much to their intrigue.

Unravel 3.png
Female garment workers expressing their curiosities of Western behaviours. Source: YouTube

I did find this particular image of the West to be equally as interesting, particularly given the fact that they are talking through word of mouth and rather ‘eticly’ – commenting on the behaviours of a social group from without, i.e. the perspective of the outsider (Skinner, 1938, in Morris et al., 1999). They claim that ‘rich’ Westeners are running out of water, yet water is just as expensive as the clothes they buy, wear and recycle, and so come to the conclusion that their money never seems to run out. This is far from the truth for many. Yet, from an anthropological stance, it is rather fascinating to witness this insight from a so-called ‘outsider’; the conclusions that one comes to about people within other culture groups, which they haven’t met in person, appears to be somewhat part of human logic and reasoning, and a process of understanding cultural differences.

You can watch the whole film here, which can take you directly to YouTube.

For more of the films made by UEA students in partnership with Postcode Films, check out the film library.

Lastly, I am also due to be taking part on two other film-making masterclasses in the next coming months, one for documentary film-making and the other for journalism for film. They are hosted by Roundhouse Studios, within their Young Creatives programme. I have never attended a class up until present, but have always tried to keep updated with the projects they are offering, some of which include apprenticeships for young people who do not have a desire to attend university, but would rather pursue their creative endeavours through an alternative route. This is why I perceive the Roundhouse to be a valuable resource for ‘Young Creatives’. Check out the masterclasses and other sessions provided within the programme here.

So I will try to provide updates as soon as I can on what we have been getting up to in the film-making course, but for now, do enjoy watching these documentary films I have mentioned above, and if there are other titles that have interested you, do let me know!



Ames, D., Leung, K., Lickel, B. and Morris, M.W, (1999). VIEWS FROM INSIDE AND OUTSIDE: INTEGRATING EMIC AND ETIC INSIGHTS ABOUT CULTURE AND JUSTICE JUDGEMENT in Academy old Management Review 1999, Vol. 24. No. 1781-796. Accessed 29 March 2017.



One thought on “Film-making for development and ethnographic films

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s