This paper proposes documentary filmmaking as creative practice and as a methodological approach to research. This is relevant to the specific research contexts in which documentary production is situated, as well as to a broader critique of the validity of filmmaking practice as research and how it is situated within the academy.
Documentary production as research methodology draws on an ethnographic approach, situating the filmmaking process from development onwards, as a locus of critique, a site and a process of enquiry and knowledge production. In particular, I am interested in how we can describe documentary production and knowledge as processes constructed through social relations.
Framing documentary processes within the context of production ethnography (Dornfield, 1998, 2002) opens up practice as research. A reflexive critique of this process examines its techniques of production as well as its reception, acknowledging the people, processes and relations who produce films, who are in those films and who receive and view them. Examining the life of the production, production ethnography embraces process, including before and after the camera is switched on, what Marcus Banks (2001:12) has described as ‘‘a reading of the external narrative that goes beyond the visual text itself.’’ This paper also references the work of Bell, Wayne, Rabinowitz, Grimshaw, Faye Ginsburg, MacDougall & Van Dienderan.
The paper will draw on my practice and research in the north and west of Scotland, exploring contexts of local historical knowledge in relation to the Spanish Armada in Scotland. The paper addresses interests within my practice and research around history, knowledge and their construction, borne out through the processes and strategies of documentary storytelling.
MacLeod, K. (2018, June). Documentary Practice as Research Methodology. Paper presented at Meccsa Practice as Research Network Symposium, University of Lincoln