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Title: Confusion and catharsis in filmmaking for fieldwork
Author: Lawrence, Andy Richard James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 2197
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis provides a commentary on three films that I have made on the subjects of childbirth and death; Born (Lawrence 2008); The Lover and the Beloved: A Journey into Tantra (Lawrence 2012); The One and the Many (Lawrence 2013). I discuss these films as practice-based research within the discipline areas of anthropology, media and performance in order to suggest an innovative way in which intersubjectivity may be explored and evoked through a method of ethnographic filmmaking. After a brief summary of the content of each film, I present my research methodology and associated techniques of filmmaking for fieldwork. I identify these as being different to those employed by Robert Gardner in his much discussed film about death, Forest of Bliss (1985). I elaborate on the methodological importance of intersubjectivity in filmed fieldwork by using two words, ‘confusion’ and ‘catharsis’, borrowed from reviewers of my film, Born. I argue that these words help to explain how the dual processes of perception and expression operate for all parties involved in the filmic encounter, including here the filmmakers, the subjects and the audiences. Drawing on ideas about how subjective experience is narrated by Turner (1986); intersubjectivity in ethnographic story telling by Jackson (2002; 2012); the conditions under which a film might provoke a cathartic response from a viewer by Scheff (2001); I consider how a filmmaking method can focus on the confusion in human experience, to become a new but related experience for the audience of a film. The objective of this methodology is to understand how subjective confusion becomes narrative coherence through the empirical lenses of childbirth and death. These ideas provide a basis to explain four areas of filmmaking technique that I use to produce anthropological films. The first relates to proximity: here I describe how I become a participant as well as an observer in action as it is unfolding and thus also a part of the story myself. The second looks at ways in which camera and microphone movement produce an “expression of experience by experience” (Sobchack 1995, p. 37). Thirdly, I outline a technique for the close examination of field experiences as they unfold and before they are fully comprehended that can also facilitate the production of high quality recorded material from which to craft a film. Lastly, I look at how reflexivity enhances the role of all the film’s subjects, including myself, to develop a useful context by which viewers of a film can engage with the protagonists of a story. In conclusion, I evaluate the success of these techniques in realising the methodological objectives of the work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: filmmaking ; anthropology