7 minute free writing exercise

In todays seminar we conducted a free writing exercise, which I found particularly useful for collecting my thoughts on a couple of subjects. One example was of how to write a first draft chapter from your notes.

Using the same techniques I decided to set myself the task of in just 7 minutes describing what my PhD is about, without referencing my notes or any other materials – this is the result.

7-minute free writing exercise.

What is your PhD about?

My PhD investigates the relationship between collective memory and the memories of people going to the cinema. In particular I am looking at the relationship between dementia patients and their experience of visiting the cinema. Why dementia sufferers? Because they by definition, because of their short-term memory loss live in the past and their memories of going to the cinema are also in the past. To cater for this there are cinemas across the UK that offer special film screenings specifically for the experience of dementia sufferers. The films screened are from a previous era but to a dementia patient they believe it is in the current time and so they experience it in this way. In addition, there is an article that mentions that dementia sufferers experience something positive when exposed to sound and light which of course is what we all experience when we attend the cinema as the cinema is a sound and light experience. With this in mind it will be useful to consider whether the film shown is relevant or whether it is just the experience of the sound and light coming from the screen that engages the audience. Coming back to the collective memory it is important to consider how people remember the cinema going experience, do they experience it as individuals or is it a collective memory experience?

The guidelines to this exercise are to write continuously without concerns for grammar, punctuation or spelling. In this example I have retrospectively corrected some spelling and punctuation but I haven’t added or deleted any words, so what you see is effectively what I wrote in 7 minutes.

How does this help? well I think most of what I have written is how I subconsciously feel about my PhD and recently acquired knowledge, however to be really useful I would need to go through the text and add citations particularly regarding the sound and light reference as that came directly from a recent newspaper article.

Diary – Week 3, October 21st to 25th Literary Review

Literary Review

October 21st to 25th

Untangling Alzheimer’s – watched this short documentary (2013) by Roberto Verdecchia. Discovered that Alzheimer’s sufferers in addition to short term memory loss also experience impaired vision and hearing with some experiencing pain in extremities. There was indications in the film that diet, and whether you are a diabetes sufferer may be factors in getting Alzheimer’s due to insulin being blocked to the brain. Another finding revealed in the documentary was of electrical stimulation to the brain can alleviate the condition and may improve the condition. These are points that I can explore in my film with health professionals, although these are experimental and so be unknown here in the UK.

Regarding the documentary itself I didn’t feel it had a planned flow as it appeared to divert from subject to subject and return back to a story later in the timeline although there was this good link back to a family member a sufferer of Alzheimer’s throughout the film and I would of liked to have seen more of this because of the emotional response it invoked surprisingly in myself.

FASS508 seminar and workshops on Quantitive data analysis and collection, which I decided to attend to see how this type of approach may work with my project but it does seem to be inappropriate and Qualitative research approach  seems to be a better fit.

Literary Review

FASS510 Literature Review and Qualitative Research. I felt this was where the QR and Literature Review started to come together, while still more relevant for non practice based PhD’s I did take on board much that was relevant in order to start to put together an action plan of not only where to start but some idea of what I want to achieve . At the same time I realised how much work this was going to be but at the same time it’s a subject of real interest so while a challenge hopefully an enjoyable one. But the idea that the typical PhD thesis may have a Bibliography in excess of 300 entries (300 Books, Journals etc.) shows how much reading is required. Caveat, of course the time spent reading each varies with importance and relevance some books essential reading you could spend a few weeks to read but some journals may have only a few relevant paragraphs so only a few hours spent on these.

FASS516 1&2 this was a double session today on Thesis Writing for 1st year PhD students. Lots to take in for these sessions and while the content seems to be most relevant to non practice based PhD’s there was still a lot of useful information to take away from this particularly on the Literary Review. Looking forward to tomorrows double session. The group workshops were of particular assistance imparting an excellent range of ideas and discussing my project with other practice students is helpful as is sharing experiences as I can believe the PhD could easily become a lonely path without shared experiences.  Some PhD’s seemingly shut themselves away in their rooms, appearing to work constantly on their Literary Review and project, without embracing the extra curriculum benefits of being a student.

FASS516 3 & 4 this was a double session today on Thesis Writing for 1st year PhD students. This is session 3 and 4 and they follow on directly from the previous sessions. Today we looked at PhD thesis examples and analysed the writing and perceived audiences for each thesis across different faculties. We also conducted a variety of exercise in particular free writing exercises, which found particularly useful. I set myself a similar exercise after the seminars to see if this could help to describe my PhD to a general public audience. Use the link to view.

7 minute free writing exercise


Pre-production for a Documentary

Pre-production for a Documentary

Pre-production for a Documentary

You have this idea for a documentary film, the subject is interesting, and you are willing to spend your time, money and resources to make it. But before you can start filming you must research your idea and create an outline for your project. An outline is like a wish list of things that you want to include in your film; subjects, people and places. Before you can start let’s decide who your audience is? who is possibly going to see and also be interested in watching your film? Sometimes a film is targeted at a certain age group, demographic, be it a local audience or national audience or are you looking for a world-wide audience?

Film Festivals have a selection criterion based on the running time of a film so if your world-wide audience is going to be reached through film festival screenings, you’ll need to consider the length of the film in order to be selected.

Now that your audience is sorted, you’ll need to research interesting people who can be contacted for interview in your film. Not everyone likes to be filmed so you’ll need backups. Also, not every interview goes well and they may end up not being included in the final edit, so again you need backups.

Change of direction? Your research can lead you to a more interesting direction, don’t be afraid to explore but be aware that this new direction may not fit well with the rest of your project and cannot be included in the final film.

Make this your mantra, Research and Research again. Continuously research your subject and the subjects in your film and the direction that your filming takes you. You may uncover some little-known facts and through this expand knowledge in your subject.

My Documentary Film Idea

TITLE – Cinema Memories (Working title)

Outline film ONE.

Investigation into the Dementia friendly screenings at the Dukes. What I would like to do is to film the audience at a live screening or series of screenings, as scheduled by the Dukes, with follow up interviews with selected dementia sufferers and their carers. Looking to add to these with interviews away from the Dukes, following up on the cinema experience and to see what their memories are of going to the cinema, in their youth or their earliest memory.

I’m seeking interviews with health professionals and academics, researchers and get an idea from them on camera of what dementia is in layman terms and from this try and determine what could be happening at these screenings.

Apart from memory loss what are the other health conditions that Dementia sufferers experience? What do they experience when going to Cinema, is it a reconnection to earlier memories and experiences of their cinema going or is something else happening? Are Dementia sufferers living in a past time? do they believe that the screening of an old film is a current release, do they know what year the film was released? Does it make them happy or ultimately does it make them sad that they have lost so much? What part does the venue play in the cinema going experience? Is it that the Dukes is an older independent cinema that could by definition belongs to an earlier age that makes or rather adds to the overall experience so that the audience feel more involved, would a modern Cinema Multiplex work just as well?

During the follow-up interviews I plan to look for b-roll opportunities. Street scenes of Lancaster City particularly on market days and possibly around Christmas may present an opportunity to explore and bring to life the location around the Dukes. I also plan to film in the surrounding  countryside maybe the lakes although I will have to find a credible link to do so as I do not want just any B-roll, by that I mean random landscapes shots, so maybe look for a link from a dementia sufferers past history, maybe they lived there and have fond memories of the location – also make sure you ask them about happy memories of local locations or indeed bad memories, each have their own place in a documentary film.

This is going to be an emotional roller coaster of a film so I plan to be careful not to concentrate on one of the other, and seek balance where possible.

I’m really looking for a small group of individuals that appear in the first film that I can form an ongoing relationship with, a core group of people that I can contact and feature in any follow-up films.

Include a small amount of travelling footage especially to the lakes, I do this to emphasise we are on a journey of discovery. (But I may drop this if I do not want to be seen on camera – alternatively I can show the scenery and just have a voiceover) – which leads to:-

Think about using a narrator to voice over some of the sequences in the documentary but where possible use professional, authoritative voices to explain screen visuals.

Decide again who is your prime audience before editing, is it for the academic panel and supervisors only, the public, medical professionals, or a mix of these – do I need several edits? Will I be targeting the film festival circuit? I think the answer to that is YES, let’s get this film out there to a world-wide audience. A film on Dementia I watched recently was funded by the Canadian Film Council and is currently available to view on Netflix – is this a possibility for my film, is there funding? Should I approach the Alzheimer’s Society for assistance either financially or for the follow-up films? What other sources of funding are there?

Diary – Week 2, October 14th to 18th

Diary – Week 3, October 21st to 25th Literary Review

Diary – Week 2, October 14th to 18th

October 14th to 18th

Monday 14th FASS502 Introduction to the Library and Literature Searching. Held in the PC Lab, found some interesting references but also couldn’t find 2 Films I think might be of interest – is there no DVD collection?

Heard back from the Director of the Dukes, OK to talk to the Inclusive Film & Theatre Officer on their return Thursday 17th October to obtain permission to attend one of their screenings and to discuss filming at the venue. Update arranged a meeting with Gil the Inclusive Film & Theatre Officer for Friday 1st November at 10.30am – call to confirm next week.

Tuesday 15th FASS506: Designing, Undertaking and Surviving Doctoral Research. Interesting sessions the afternoon in particular with current PhD students who passed on their experiences. Feeling a bit more on track now.

Received a Certificate from the International Moving Image Film Festival awarding semi-finalist for my documentary Yayu and The Wimborne Folk Festival.

Arranged a meeting with Dr. Reilly Senior Lecturer in Health Research for early next month to discuss my research project and the production of a documentary film on Dementia and reconnecting to past memories of the Cinema.

Wednesday 16th FASS510: Qualitative Research Methods. Ethics came up in this session and I feel I must get on this sooner than expected, as approval will be needed. Fortunately this must be a well worn path as I am asking nothing out of the ordinary for a documentary filmmaker.

Writing and research

Started writing up some of the additional literary review research I have started on collective memory and added a few paragraphs on cinemagoing. In addition I looked again at the original PhD proposal to see where it can be updated, which apart from bringing forward the filming timetable I think is on track.

Archival Film

Started looking for archive film to include in my first film. There’s little if any specific to Lancaster that is post war so I will have to widen the net to include the whole of the United Kingdom. This seems to have worked as I have found several examples however they are not in the public domain but are in fact in a private collection for which a fee is required to remove the identifiers.

Weekly Diary – Welcome week +1

Weekly diary

Weekly diary – October 7th to 11th

After the happy chaos of welcome week this is the first week of Term.

Weekly diary of emails, setting up meetings and attending seminars.

Firstly the seminars on Qualitative Research Methods FASS510 my first introduction to the Research Training Program, which I will be attending over the next 10 weeks. Interestingly my research on Collective Memory featured in the QA session at the end of the seminar as an example of an area of research where there is no actual actor or material object to research.

My Research.

  • I’ve emailed the Dukes to see if I can get permission to attend the next Dementia friendly screening as an observer. (Update – had a email response and I will be discussing my project with the Inclusive Film & Theatre Officer and hopefully taking it further soon)
  • Emailed a lecturer in another faculty, specialising in Dementia Research for a meeting to discuss what sort of questions might be interesting to include in my interviews. (no answer so far – sending reminder)
  • Started reading and referencing the book,  ‘The Collective Memory Reader edited by Jeffery K. Olick. Verod Vinitzky. & Daniel Levey
  • Started reading An Everyday Magic Cinema and Cultural Memory by Annette Kuhn.
  • Reading for next weeks session. Qualitative Quality: Eight “Big-Tent” Criteria for Excellent Qualitative Research by Sarah J. Tracy

Film Festivals

Just got the news that my documentary Yayu and The Wimborne Folk Festival just got a special mention at the Asia South East-Short Film Festival.

Special mention for Yayu and The Wimborne Folk Festival at the Asia South East Short Film Festival 2019


Location scouting 2

Walked around Lancaster City looking for interesting locations to film, talking to locals for ideas and generally getting a flavour of the city itself.

It’s Lancaster Music Festival this weekend and happened across one of the musicians in a cafe who I encouraged to play while I filmed him on my iPhone – The Hurdy Gurdy Man.

Book reading – making a start

An Everyday Magic – Cinema and Cultural Memory

Abstract: Exploring cinemagoing and cinema culture, this book considers the 1930s, when “going to the pictures” was everybody’s favourite spare-time activity. From the familiar and magical surroundings of the picture houses themselves to the action and romance on the screen, Annette Kuhn draws on extensive interviews with picturegoers, research in cultural history and readings of popular films of the day to discover how cinema brought a special magic to the daily lives of a generation of young men and women growing up in an austere climate of making-do.

Kuhn, A. (2002). An everyday magic : Cinema and cultural memory (Cinema and society). London: I.B. Tauris.

The Collective memory Reader

There are few terms or concepts that have, in the last twenty or so years, rivaled “collective memory” for attention in the humanities and social sciences. Indeed, use of the term has extended far beyond scholarship to the realm of politics and journalism, where it has appeared in speeches at the centers of power and on the front pages of the world’s leading newspapers. The current efflorescence of interest in memory, however, is no mere passing fad: it is a hallmark characteristic of our age and a crucial site for understanding our present social, political, and cultural conditions. Scholars and others in numerous fields have thus employed the concept of collective memory, sociological in origin, to guide their inquiries into diverse, though allegedly connected, phenomena. Nevertheless, there remains a great deal of confusion about the meaning, origin, and implication of the term and the field of inquiry it underwrites.

Olick, J., Vinitzky-Seroussi, Vered, & Levy, Daniel. (2011). The Collective memory reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Qualitative Research Methods – collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact.

Qualitative Research Methods is a comprehensive, all-inclusive resource for the theory and practice of qualitative/ethnographic research methodology.

Serves as a “how-to” guide for qualitative/ethnographic research, detailing how to design a project, conduct interviews and focus groups, interpret and analyze data, and represent it in a compelling manner
Demonstrates how qualitative data can be systematically utilized to address pressing personal, organizational, and social problems
Written in an engaging style, with in-depth examples from the author’s own practice.

Tracy, S. (2013). Qualitative research methods : Collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Documentary pre-production – Location Scouting

location scouting

Location Scouting the Dukes

I am jumping ahead here by checking possible locations for the documentary film. There is a  methodology for a films pre-production and this would normally be a consideration for the later stages of the  project. What prompted this was an interesting online article I came across during my research that could prove to be vitally important in the production of my documentary film. My research identified that a local venue has been running Cinema and Entertainment events specifically for Dementia sufferers and their carers, which is key to the subject of my research and narrative of my documentary.

Location Scouting - the Dukes
the Dukes

To research this article further I decided to conduct a recce of the venue and surrounding locations before contacting the venue. The reason for this may seem obvious, but my aim was to scout the venue to see if it met with my requirements as a filmmaker, which I have listed a few requirements below. It is also a good idea to try and get a feel for a location and see how it fits into your films visualisation. One of the key things I like to achieve whenever possible is to raise my films production value. What do I mean by this? for example, if you need to film in a church and the local church and the  Cathedral are potential options, always go for the Cathedral. This is to immediately step up the production value of your film. Of course this isn’t a hard rule and sometimes the local church is the better option and for a variety of reasons for example aesthetics, practical considerations (lighting a large space is expensive).

Location Scouting – My location requirements

  • Venue open to filming.
  • Natural light or practical lighting.
  • What access will they allow.
  • Dates available.
  • Cost considerations – if any.
  • Additional permissions required – if any.
  • Is the location noisy so poor sound.
  • Restricted Public access.

Location Scouting – Additional requirements

  • Easy to get to
  • Parking
  • Services near to hand (food, drink, toilets, medical for the crew)

The B-Roll

What is the B-roll? whenever you are filming a documentary or indeed any filming you will always need to make cuts in your footage. an examples of this would be a long interview, which after a short while becomes boring visually, there’s only so much time that you can watch what I call a bobbing head, you can acceptably watch for 15 seconds but any longer and you need to break away to a different visual just to keep your audience engaged. When you cut you need to cut away to a different visual usually related to the what the subject is discussing, but may just relate to the location, but whatever it is make it interesting.

Dementia Friendly Screenings

The Dukes Theatre/Cinema in Moor Lane, Lancaster City, run a series of Dementia Friendly Screenings a number of dementia friendly events events that including Cinema screenings of old films as part of the initiative  ‘A Life More Ordinary’, which involves partner venues nationwide.

The Dukes website states – ALMO was designed to give people with dementia and their family members more choice, control and greater access to leisure and cultural opportunities.It was set up primarily for those living in the community but a significant number from residential care settings have participated too.ALMO began with screenings of classic films which were also open to the general public. (the Dukes)

This would represent an ideal opportunity for further research and for possible inclusion in the films production. There is also the possibility of researching local archives for footage of the Dukes and cinema audiences for background history of the venue and its position in the local community as an independent cinema and events venue.

the Dukes. (2019). A Life More Ordinary Exceeds Expectations | the Dukes. [online] Available at: https://dukes-lancaster.org/life-ordinary-exceeds-expectations/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2019].