Posts By / aeast

5 films made in lockdown; innovation and experimentation during Covid-19

Co-creation for Screened and Heard; 5 films made in lockdown

Screened and Heard, headed up by Annie East with Dr Sam Iwowo, is a collection of five short films produced by women in lockdown who set themselves a challenge during the pandemic to tell a story, learn new skills and explore new ideas. Provoked initially by a newspaper article about women’s research dropping during lockdown whilst men’s increased, this group response was not only about the final films but about the process and support given to enable these women, who each had different caring responsibilities, the opportunity to have a voice and complete a project under the complex conditions that the pandemic presented. Annie East and Dr Samantha Iwowo plan to use the films as a springboard to further research areas. Below is a Q&A with the editor, alumnus Owen Trett BA Television Production Class of 2020.

Fig. 1 Owen BATV graduate working on Dr Samantha Iwowo’s film ‘In Zoom We Trust’. Photo: Owen Trett

Why did you want to get involved with Screened and Heard?

Screened and Heard was a great opportunity to take part in after graduating from Bournemouth University. I believe that taking part in a project that focused on showcasing the voices of women filmmakers during the lockdown of 2020 was extremely beneficial to the industry.

What involvement did you have with each film?

I ensured that each film was the highest quality it could be in. Due to the circumstances, most filmmakers were limited in their choices of equipment. I made sure that whether the film was recorded on a DSLR, phone, or webcam, that each film was tidied up and treated equally as if recorded on industry-standard equipment.

I was then in control of the detailed edit for most of the films. It was a great way of improving my editing skills and working with a variety of different formats and visions.  My graduate project was recorded entirely through Skype and influenced by the 2018 Aneesh Chaganty film “Searching”, so I applied these skills from my graduate film to the edit of Screened and Heard.

A year on what do you think about the films?

It’s been interesting to see the direction that the film and TV industry has headed in going into 2021. I feel that all early lockdown content, like “Staged” (BBC) for example, has a very grounded aesthetic compared to pre-lockdown content. Seeing content like this, of actors at home recording pieces to camera, as having an authenticity to it.

I feel that the films showcased in Screened and Heard have a similar vibe, this sort of authentic look to them is hard to replicate outside of the context of Covid. “Working from Home” for example, dealing with themes of lockdown relationships and home-schooling, I feel that we will take a lot of these grounded concepts and continue to use them throughout the future of TV / film storytelling.

What was it like working on an project based on a true story about bereavement during Covid 2020? (In Zoom We Trust)

I feel privileged to be able to work on a project that dealt with such a raw and personal topic. I think that, because the content dealt with quite a sensitive subject, there was a lot of pressure to make sure that it was edited correctly, in a manner that was respectful.

Samantha (Iwowo) really has an amazing directorial vision, and allowed me to use creative techniques that I hadn’t used in this format before. I was lucky to be able to work with her on this project, and I’m glad that she had a positive response to the edit.

How has being involved with Screened and Heard helped you as you graduated and went to look for work in the UK film and TV industry?

Trying to find work during a pandemic was not the easiest process in the world. However, working on the Screened and Heard projects really helped boost my portfolio. it showed that as an industry worker, I had the ability to overcome limitations and adapt to complicated situations.

In early 2021 I was offered a job working from home as a Junior Video Editor for the video games company Sumo Digital.

Anything else you would like to comment on?

I loved my time at BU, I met some of the most amazing and talented students from both the BATV and BA Film courses. The staff were some of the most supportive tutors that I have ever had the pleasure of being taught by. A lot of practitioners within the media industry do argue that university isn’t needed for a media career, and I would like to respectfully disagree. Those three years at BU allowed me to figure out who I was, who I wanted to be, and created a network of friends and colleagues that I will continue to use throughout my career. Although my time at BU was cut short by the pandemic, I would not have traded in those years for anything else, and if you gave me the chance to do it all again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

 

Looking through the lens of Covid-19 at student risk management practice in HE

Earlier this year the International Journal for Creative Media Research (IJCMR) published a journal article by Annie East, Deputy Head of Media Production Department at BU, on ways students make meaning of the risk assessment process on their undergraduate filmmaking degree. Based on Annie’s doctoral pilot study findings, this article, whilst written in a pre-covid19 environment, has 5 areas for consideration of health and safety going forward in a Covid-19 student fieldwork context. Below Annie considers how we conceive health, safety and risk before outlining 5 points.

What is safe? The social construction of safety

Safety is a subjective, constructed and socially derived notion. The Health And Safety Executive literature does not define what safety is, leaving companies and organisations to interpret or translate how that applies to their practices. Similarly risks are ‘selected’ and ‘risk is only what people choose to say it is.’ As for health, we follow current advice in how to understand what is ‘good health’.

To give more clarity we could consider the terms ‘health’ and ‘safety’ from within the industrial context in which they are being used. Since my research is about filmmaking (in an HE context), when we refer to safety at work we can consider a film set in a studio; a lighting electrician may fall off a ladder that isn’t secure and this is a result of non-safety, or ‘unsafe-ness’. When we talk about health we can view the same studio where a set designer is carrying heavy props and as a result of that act, potentially, over time, this will create health problems, linked to heavy lifting, for that person. Safety is therefore constructed by us with an immediacy, whether perceived as safe or unsafe, and health is constructed as more removed from the act, alluding to future constructs of ailment/s within the body (or mind).

So with a socially constructed definition of health and safety the linked article can be read, taking into account the added consideration of working practice and Covid19 outlined in 5 points below.

1. VR Elicitation

In the article I propose a new research method; VR elicitation. A two-tier practice of placing a 360-degree camera into fieldwork (in this case a student film shoot) and then viewing it back as a way of deepening reflective and reflexive practice for both educator and student through an immersive environment. In response to innovation around education during Covid-19, VR elicitation could be utilised to enhance, learning for students who may not be able to engage as fully with fieldwork. This would be through remote learning ‘in the round’ with peers and educators taking advantage of the immersive environment. Working with apps that can download onto smartphones and be slotted into a £30 VR visor.

Image 1: Student film shoot

Image 2: Re-immersion back into film shoot; VR elicitation

2. The paradox within HE

The article highlights the paradoxical nature of working in a tripartite environment; education that teaches industry practice whilst complying with HE rules. With the extra layer of Covid-19 risk management incorporated into our health and safety practices, it is worth fully understanding the paradox presented within the article.

3. Risk as imagined, risk as performed

Following David Borys, I conceived the risk assessment in two steps; risk as imagined (the writing of a risk assessment) and risk as performed (the performance of the risk assessment in action). The literature acknowledges a lack of emphasis on risk as performed in scholarly research discoveries or, if it does, it discovers performance as being different to that as imagined.

4. Working beyond bureaucracy in risk management

The article posits holistic ways to approach risk management that involves engaging HE students more thoroughly. Moving us away from purely bureaucratic tick box exercises of writing a risk assessment towards a shared ownership of risk management strategy or otherwise referred to as ‘institutional magic’ by Patrick Brown. This holism is essential now that we are dealing with an invisible risk.

5. VR elicitation study findings

The pilot study teases out some of the ways students inherently keep themselves safe and are examples of where the imagined is very different to the performance. This reminds us of the importance of developing shared ownership of managing risk rather than staying purely with top-down implementation that is tied to institutional and legal power structures.

Moving forward it will be interesting to see if the increased scrutiny on Covid-19 health & safety risk management within HE results in safer student practice on a film location (or other generic fieldwork) or whether increased scrutiny on Covid-19 results in a lowering of the other health & safety practice principles.

Full linked article here.

Contact: Annie East, Deputy Head Media Production Department, Faculty of Media and Communication. aeast@bournemouth.ac.uk

Doctorate via Centre of Excellence for Media Practice (CEMP).

 

Researching with students: The challenges and opportunities of BU2025 for students and staff

A first year BA Television Production student, Rowan Prosser and Lecturer, Annie East share their thoughts on a pilot research project using 360-degree filming technology.

Fusion BU2025 looks to ensure that students are informed in the ‘latest thinking in practice and research’ it also looks to ensure graduates are ‘innovative’ and ‘have research skills’. The doctoral research that Annie East is engaged with seeks to discover the ways in which students are working with health and safety risk management processes on their location film shoots. The pilot study looked to test the use of a 360-degree camera on a student shoot as a Virtual Reality (VR) elicitation tool for data gathering . Here Annie East and first year student, Rowan Prosser, reflect on his role as student research assistant, working with the 360 degree camera on a second year student film shoot.

Thoughts on student/lecturer collaboration.

Rowan Prosser: As a first year student the opportunity to work on academic research was both intriguing and a great opportunity to learn. The project gave me a chance to see how research is carried out in an academic way, seeing the correct processes of it all. It was all carefully considered and planned accordingly, my needs and any questions I had were answered immediately; something you don’t get when working with other students. When planning for the pilot project, the meetings that took place were well informed. In contrast, when I work with fellow students, there is sometimes difficulty in getting to the point of the discussion or the heart of the problem.

Annie East: Finding a student keen to work on research that was testing relatively new technology was key for this pilot. Meeting with Rowan for the first time as a researcher rather than as lecturer was a turning point. The power dynamics of student/lecturer dissolved with Rowan becoming more of an equal in our journey to master the technology and workflow of the camera. I chose to work with a student to lessen the power dynamic on the student film shoot; taking myself physically away from their shoot and allowing a student to operate the 360-degree camera.

360-degree camera

Reflections on the approach.

Rowan Prosser: It was an interesting scenario to be surrounded by second year BA Television Production students. Due to the role I had (responsibility for the 360-degree camera) they all tried to adhere to my needs and requests throughout the shoot. This allowed me to make sure that my camera work was achieved. If I was in the way, they would politely ask me to move the camera. The kit used really interested me; 360-degree video is something that is slowly coming into the fold – people (including the 2ndyear students I was working with) are very interested in the camera and how it works. This allowed me to educate and show them.

Annie East: Interestingly it is not just the power dynamics of lecturer/student that are changing with this work but also student-to-student interactions. The collaboration gave Rowan a new perspective and a window into the world of a second year student film shoot, levelling the inter-year dynamics somewhat. Silently it also afforded him institutional power; he became the educator and sage.

Reports from the field.

Rowan Prosser: Observing second-year students on their film shoots gave me the ability to blend in since I was a fellow student.  We were able to talk about the course, topics we enjoyed thus allowing the presence of a camera filming their every movement less uncomfortable. It was interesting to observe the similarities of 2nd-year students to 1st years on the shoot. The classic way in which clear leaders can sometimes emerge and take over other people’s role was seen, this being an issue with student filmmaking, when someone isn’t happy with how someone else is conducting their role.

Annie East: Rowan’s reflections display some of the key tensions in setting up this research project; how do we observe students in the field and in what ways does that change the way they behave. This pilot confirmed going forward that the data to be captured is not the footage itself but the conversation about the footage when each crew member put on their VR visor to re-immerse themselves back into their field. This shifts the research focus away from behaviour and towards reflections on action and reflections in action.

Moving forward

Rowan Prosser: I really enjoyed the experience, as the opportunity to carry out research for an academic is not something that happens a lot. It gave me a clear insight into the future on how I can carry out future research and also taught me a lot about 360 cameras which I have not previously used. The group of second year students responded very well to me being around, and in the group, so it would be interesting to see how other groups would react to my involvement.

Annie East: These reflections suggest a shift in student identity and changing power dynamics between researcher and student and between student-to-student. The confidence that this work appears to have afforded Rowan sets him on the path of the lifelong learner; someone thirsty for new challenges. The challenge for BU2025 is the possible perception that working on academic research is a rare experience. Going forward Rowan can choose to be part of the full study and be more experienced for it; a scaffolded approach to collaborative research rather than a siloed one. The vision of fusion in BU2025 features a strong sense of inclusivity which we can promote to our students creating not only rounded academics but also fully rounded students, confident to take on ‘intriguing’ research projects.

References 

Bournemouth University BU2025 Strategic Plan 2018 (online). Available from: https://www1.bournemouth.ac.uk/sites/default/files/asset/document/bu2025-strategic-plan.pdf (Accessed 10 August 2018)

Foucault, M., 1991. Discipline and punish. The birth of the prison. London: Penguin.

Schön, D. A., 1983. The reflective practitioner. [online] : how professionals think in action. New York : Basic Books.

Vygotsky, L. S. and Cole, M., 1978. Mind in society : the development of higher psychological processes / L. S. Vygotsky ; edited by Michael Cole … [et al.] Cambridge : Harvard University Press.