Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität


Using Lenses and Mics to Mediate Culture: The Nuts And Bolts of Non-Fiction Storytelling in the Ethnographic Context


The seminar is designed to offer participants and  filmmakers the opportunity to produce their first comprehensive audiovisual project. Within a week and through an intensive workshop that brushes on all aspects of ethnographic filmmaking - audiovisual technology, visual grammar, narrative structures, ethnographic approaches and the grammar and technology of editing - the student production teams are called to create a short film that exceeds the "talking-heads" documentary style. With narrative strategies that depart from an anthropological backbone, the teams - of two to three students - are expected to learn the differences between telling and evoking as well as to understand the pros and cons of contextualization.

The main focus of the workshop will be the investigation of a socio-cultural issue, a social "reality" or a cultural phenomenon, with the use of the camera as a research tool. Issues of representation and the use of an audiovisual "language" in the process will be elementary. 

In the beginning of the workshop, the nuts'n'bolts of filmmaking will also be briefly presented. The tools of the trade will be described with a simple, hands-on approach and questions about sensors, lenses, formats, etc will be answered. The visual grammar of filmmaking and editing​ will be visited before entering the pre-production phase of the projects. At that point, the concept and the narrative as well as the ethical approaches of each project will be the focus.

We welcome media and art professionals who would like to take their first steps in visual anthropology, the same way we welcome media amateurs who have a background in social sciences. The groups will be formed on the base of individual foreknowledge, and among the goals of the program is to support fruitful collaborations and mutual learning. The teaching team will be present and available during the whole process - from preproduction, to production, to editing.

The workshop is an intensive training program of seven full days and will take place from May 22nd to May 28th 2017. All projects will be screened and critically discussed on May 28th.

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