This research aims to contribute to the debate around community filmmaking and cultural diversity by exploring how cultural diversity intersects with community filmmaking. It will examine the results of this intersection in terms of representations and identities, as well as practices and innovation. In addition, the research will develop a better understanding of the role of cultural policy in supporting this intersection, by examining how cultural organisations and policymakers work with community filmmakers and how the role of innovation in this context is understood.
The project recognises the complex set of cultural, economic and social relationships and engagements in community
filmmaking. Therefore, our research will adopt a complexity framework to take a wider perspective to this object of study. Whilst the focus is on creative practitioners (community filmmakers), we aim to consider the cascade of connections which are behind their engagement with communities and partners, industries and audiences and which may impact on the cultural product and experience delivered as well as in urban/local development.
Applying complexity thinking to this field of investigation allows us to consider the role of cultural experiences and cultural identities in community filmmaking practice by taking into consideration five important dimensions by which these interactions can be mediated: representation and identity, the role of film as media, the tensions in filming practices between arts and commerce, the knowledge and innovation dynamics and the roles of intermediaries, policy and place.
Community filmmakers will be the key agents considered in this complex system where practice, innovation and policy will be explored at different scales of interaction: micro, meso and macro levels. Across these levels, we will explore how different communities (through interaction, feedback, cooperation) share the work of filmmakers and vice-versa. At another level we will consider how community filmmakers are themselves embedded in a cultural field that is inhabited by major institutions (such as the British Film Institute (BFI)), other filmmakers, venues and associations, funders (such as Arts Council England) and how these shape and influence both their work and their decision-making.
Our research will be developed and carried out in collaboration with a range of community partners in three different UK
regional settings (Birmingham, Southampton and London), each with different roles within this cultural field. These include Lighthouse, City-Eye and WORLDwrite, all of whom have expressed support for the project. We also have the support of the BFI who says that the 'Community filmmaking and Cultural Diversity' project will enrich the organisation's 'own knowledge and contact with this area of film culture'.
The research project's contribution to the AHRC Connected Communities programme will be twofold. Firstly, it will gather a better understanding of community filmmaking and diversity within the context of community engagement, representation and participation, considering the role played by arts and media (through film) in shaping and involving communities. Secondly, it will look at community filmmakers as being themselves part of a knowledge and practice community and consider what kind of learning, sharing and collaborative approaches are used to foster creation and innovation and how these can feed into the wider film ecology.