Practical Ethnographic and Documentary Filmmaking
Optional Course for Masters Students in Anthropology
Tutor: Dr Michael Yorke, Tutorial Assistant: Ben Pollard
This course offers practical training in the skills of documentary and ethnographic filmmaking under the rubric that,
"We live in a world of moving images and to communicate our ideas we need to be as fluent in the use of sound and imagery as in the printed or the spoken word".
Filmmaking, that was once technically remote, is now universally accessible, even for a researcher with a mobile phone. The latest digital still cameras now shoot high definition video and synchronous audio. Every researcher and fieldworker has the tools to hand. This course enables researchers to use them with skill and creativity to bring their academically informed genius to life with a vision that can reach out to a wider audience. Thinking filmically is a different mode of analysing and imagining the world that goes beyond text. Rather than being explicatory, it takes on the revelatory function of exploring the sensorial dimension of the human condition. How do we think? We think verbally, in sound, kinaesthetically, dynamically, in abstract terms and visually. The visual has become a primary tool of teaching, archival recording, visual analysis, creative interpretation, communicating and engaging with a broader public.
We offer a unique hands-on 'practice-based' training in documentary film for credit as part of a masters degree (15 course credits) to graduates in anthropology, humanities, social sciences, and to suitably qualified applicants from other subject areas. Students will be trained in the technical and creative skills of video and digital technology to represent and document social and scientific research to broadcast standards under the guidance of an award-winning and experienced industry professional guiding them through both the practical skills and aesthetic and ethical approaches to visual representation.
This course will entail a lab fee for UCL students of £1,000 on top of any fee for a Masters degree. Students will have full access to the UCL Anthropology Audio Visual Lab with 11 Final Cut Pro enabled Macs as well as camera kits for the duration of the course. Students who bring their own cameras will receive a subsidy of £180. Students from outside UCL may take this course, for an unsubsidised rate of £1,300.
You will acquire the technical skills needed to complete a 15-minute video project to broadcast standards using the cameras, workstations and facilities in the department's visual laboratory. Students will acquire practical, analytical and intellectual skills in using moving image and sound recording equipment and discover how new technologies create new methodologies.
During the course students will examine and deploy a range of the technical, stylistic, aesthetic, and representational dynamics involved in video construction. By doing so, you will become more informed as well as practically experienced commentators on the 'truths', 'fictions', styles, genres, ethics and modes of filmmaking. They will recognise the potential of film to document their research, and have explored issues of representation and audience reception.
Structure of the Course:
- This being a practical course, the reading load focuses on technical handouts and equipment manuals. The usual reading requirement is exchanged for the compulsory hours each student spends on practical work and editing their own project, estimated at a minimum 60 hours and a maximum of 100 hours for a 15 minute film.
- The tutor and assistant are available to students outside term-time during the vacation break to assist and comment on the final editing stage of student's video projects.
- The course is assessed 80% on the student's final 15-minute video project, devised, shot and edited during the course, and 20% on a Project Diary.
- Weeks 1-3 of the course focus on hands-on exercises and appraisal sessions aimed at preparing the student in manual control of camera image, synchronous sound and techniques of sequence building and shooting to edit.
- Weeks 4-5 concentrate on synopsis, treatment, location, characterisation, narrative structure, scripting, storyboarding, logistics, legal and ethical responsibilities, narrative structure, aesthetics, character and location research.
- Weeks 6-8 are concerned with developing editing skills using the student's own digitised footage, through assembly, to rough cutting and on to fine cutting and picture lock.
- The final 9th week deals with outputting, DVD authoring and finding an audience.
- During 5 weeks of the subsequent vacation last four weeks of post-production training (weeks 6-9) student should be working on the rushes/footage that they have successfully filmed. However, the possibility exists for the student to shoot and complete the post-production editing during the Easter break having already gained proficiency to work alone.
For further information
please contact Dr Michael Yorke, m.yorke at ucl.ac.uk or Dr Michael
Stewart, m.stewart at ucl.ac.uk
For further details on the course please download the PDF file of the course outline by clicking here.