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Participatory filmmaking as documentary practice

Macleod, Kirsten



This paper will examine participatory approaches to filmmaking, drawing on the author’s practice and research in community based, participatory documentary production in the Govan area of Glasgow. The paper examines the strengths and contexts of community media, validating this approach to documentary as a form of practice and as a distinct filmmaking approach.

The paper considers examples from the author’s work over 7 yrs based at community media production company, Plantation Productions. Located less than a mile from BBC Scotland’s Pacific Quay headquarters, Plantation aims to provide a different kind of ‘public service’ in and through its media production. While often perceived as a poor relative of broadcast media, participatory production has much to teach the lumbering hulks of institutional and corporate media.

Community based and participatory filmmaking represents an embedded approach to production that allows for continuity in practice, participation and representation. The paper explores participatory production as a networked practice that acts as a catalyst for further participation and ongoing production. Drawing on critiques of observational documentary and ethnographic film, this paper examines participatory production as a situated relational practice, connected and intereconnected across time and space.

What are the contexts in which participation is nurtured and how can it challenge ‘official’ media representation of place and people. What are the challenges to ‘local production’ and is there an audience for such content? What happens when communities have access to production, when they participate in shaping stories told by, rather than about them? And what happens to the role of the filmmaker? Where does the auteur/author/Director sit when making films with? The paper challenges traditional approaches to filmmaking and broadcast television and explores the participatory production techniques that allow for and encourage an opening up of the documentary genre.


Macleod, K. (2016, November). Participatory filmmaking as documentary practice. Paper presented at Challenging Media Landscapes Conference, University of Salford, University of Salford

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Challenging Media Landscapes Conference, University of Salford
Conference Location University of Salford
Start Date Nov 11, 2016
End Date Nov 11, 2016
Deposit Date Apr 18, 2018
Keywords Community; media; documentary: production; practice; participation; representation; Govan; Glasgow
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