Academic and Practice Research

Academic and Practice Research

Research challenges. Studying for a PhD by practice can be a greater challenge than you anticipated, unlike the usual pathway of the thesis based PhD you have to both research the subject academically (for the written thesis part) and at the same time research for the practice element, which in my case is a film production.

What are the differences? they may seem obvious, the academic research is primarily for the written thesis and any research for the practice element/artefact and in my case the making of a film, is for the pre-production of the film, that is the films outline, B-roll, subjects and locations I want to include in the film, basically everything that needs to be done before you can start filming. However there is considerable overlap, as the academic research also produces ideas and leads for the films production. For example, my initial academic research when applied to the location Lancaster City and its surrounding area has identified potential subjects and locations that I would want to include into the film. Indeed this initial academic research into my subject of collective memory has identified another thread to consider for further research, which if the research is successful would bring the benefit of my film having multiple storylines.

Will my practice research add to my academic research? yes is the answer, even at this early stage of the films pre-production the locations and potential film subjects have influenced some of my further reading choices I have made and I suspect this may in turn lead to further threads to the film. However I need to be careful of over expanding my subjects range, as it is impossible to have all the answers to such an over expanded subject and almost certain to lead to a research challenge impossible to achieve in the 3 years of a PhD and in the context of the film, it would also be impossible to include all of the research driven results and expanded questions in a film of acceptable duration..

Where am I now? my research on the subject of collective memory and film has opened up a new area of research on Cinema, and by this I actually mean the collective memories of people going to the cinema to watch a film (a shared experience, event) . The social experience of going to the cinema, the people, the buying of a ticket, something to eat, drink and the taking of your seat in the auditorium. The film that you watched and the time period are all factors and potential areas of interest to research and explore in my documentary. This again leads to another question of how It would be useful to compare cinema going from the previous century to going to the cinema now.

Practice research adds to my reading list Collective Memory Film a Reading List

The personal statement

Personal Statement Canon C300

the personal statement

Personal Statement

Remember these? when you began your journey into academia you had to produce a statement to supplement your application for undergraduate study and possibly for your post graduate study.

Personal Statement On SetThis is about you, your personal skills and academic experience/abilities and why you have applied to study at this institution. This is important, basically you are selling yourself to the institution and it’s about how you can uniquely achieve your PhD research  through your skillset and record of achievement thus far. For me this was my experience of documentary filmmaking and appropriate academic study in a film related subject.

It may certainly include some details of your research proposal but remember this isn’t the research proposal this is a personal statement. Instead think of writing about your motivation for studying for a PhD and why you have chosen this institution and potential supervisor. It may not only be your supervisor who reads this statement, admissions and possibly the interview panel may read this statement in conjunction with the research proposal.

Don’t forget to discuss a little about yourself but avoid over stating your abilities and experience, for example you cannot be an expert in anything if you have only a years experience.

Examples

Collective Memory a Film Viewing List

Collective memory film viewing list

Collective Memory a Film viewing list

Experimental Film – The production of Experimental Film as a representation of memory

There are many examples of films that have human memory central to the narrative, the examples below have some credibility in Psychological fact according to the neuroscientist Steve Ramirez. (BU Today 2018)

 

  1. Memento is one of the most realistic accounts of amnesia — the inability to form or recall our personally experienced events
  2. Inside Out is a Pixar classic that zooms into a child’s brain and lets us see her memories form, change, and evaporate over time as she matures
  3. The Bourne Trilogy (which starts with The Bourne Identity) is a fast-spaced action series about Jason Bourne, an agent with amnesia who knows how to win any fight, but doesn’t remember who he is or where he came from.
  4. Inception is a mind-bending film on implanting and extracting memories in the brain, done with high-octane drama and a twisting, dream-like storyline.
  5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is perhaps the most famous memory erasure movie ever. Would you erase the memory of a loved one after a breakup if it eased the pain?
  6. Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 — a classic and instant-classic — tackle the concepts of implanting memories in human-like robots.
  7. The Matrix is another classic. “I know Kung Fu,” says Neo, after having martial arts skills uploaded into his brain. The movie tackles the philosophical questions of brains, free will, uploading information onto the brain, and how this changes us forever.
  8. Total Recall has the main character going into a machine where he can live out any reality or fantasy that he sees fit. Things get blurry, however, when reality and fantasy start to blend and force viewers to ask themselves: if our subjective reality feels real, then does it matter if it’s real or not?

The digital revolution in archival media opens up access to previously unknown images and provides the possibility that these images could broaden and transform collective memory. (B. Fabos)

Bibliography

  1. BU Today. (2018). 8 Brainy Movies That (Almost) Get Neuroscientist Stamp of Approval | BU Today | Boston University. [online] Available at: http://www.bu.edu/today/2018/ramirez-listicle/ [Accessed 18 Mar. 2019].
  2. Bettina Fabos (2014) The Trouble with Iconic Images: Historical Timelines and Public Memory, Visual Communication Quarterly, 21:4, 223-235

Avant-garde Films that lived through time. film viewing list

  1. Manhattan – Charles Sheeler – 1921
  2. Ballet Mecanique – Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy – 1924
  3. Ghosts Before Breakfast – Hans Richter – 1928
  4. Un Chien Andalou – Luis Bunuel – 1929
  5. Meshes of the Afternoon – Alexandr Hackenschmied, Maya Deren – 1943
  6. Dog Star Man – Stan Brakhage – 1961-1964
  7. Scorpio Rising – Kenneth Anger – 1963
  8. Julien Donkey Boy – Harmony Korine – 1999
  9. The Heart of the World – Guy Maddin – 2000
  10. Inland Empire – David Lynch – 2006

Documentary film viewing list

  1. Land of Promise – British Documentary Film Movement 1930 – 1950 (BFI. 4 Disk DVD Boxset) 40 films by Directors; Paul Rotha, Humphrey Jennings, Ruby Grierson, Basil Wright and Paul Dickson.

Film & Memory (Top 25 film viewing list)

  1. Rashôman (1950), Akira Kurosawa
  2. Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959), Alain Resnais
  3. Vertigo (1958), Alfred Hitchcock
  4. Wild Strawberries (1958), Ingmar Bergman
  5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Michel Gondry
  6. Three Colors: Blue (1993), Krzysztof Kieślowski
  7. The Mirror (1975), Andrei Tarkovsky
  8. Blade Runner (1982), Ridley Scott
  9. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), John Ford
  10. Citizen Kane (1941), Orson Welles
  11. How Green Was My Valley (1941), John Ford
  12. Memento (2000), Christopher Nolan
  13. The Tree of Life (2011), Terrence Malick
  14. 2046 (2004), Wong Kar-wai
  15. Solaris (1972), Andrei Tarkovsky
  16. Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Alain Resnais
  17. The Sweet Hereafter (1997), Atom Egoyan
  18. The Thin Blue Line (1988), Errol Morris
  19. Certified Copy (2010), Abbas Kiarostami
  20. 8 1/2 (1963), Federico Fellini
  21. The Manchurian Candidate (1962), John Frankenheime
  22. The Act of Killing (2012), Joshua Oppenheimer
  23. La Jetée (1962), Chris Marker
  24. The Remains of the Day (1993), James Ivory
  25. Mulholland Drive (2001), David Lynch

Bibliography

  1. Admin, 2015. Avant-Garde. Film Theory. Available at: http://filmtheory.org/avant-garde/ [Accessed April 10, 2019].
  2. Anon, British documentary. BFI Film Forever. Available at: https://shop.bfi.org.uk/dvd-blu-ray/documentaries/british-documentary.html [Accessed April 10, 2019].
  3. Holt, R., 2015. Top 25 Films on Memory. Image Journal. Available at: https://imagejournal.org/top-25-films-on-memory/ [Accessed April 28, 2019] Continue reading “Collective Memory a Film Viewing List”

Reading List

Collective Memory Halbwachs

Reading list (Year 1)

Initial reading list for collective memory, film and dementia. This list will be added to over the year.

Ashuri T (2007) Television tension: national versus cosmopolitan memory in a co-produced television documentary. In: Media, Culture, Society 29 (1): pp. 31-51.

Assmann J (1995) Collective memory and cultural identity. In: New German Critique 65: pp.125-133.

García-Gavilanes, R. et al., 2017. The memory remains: Understanding collective memory in the digital age. Science Advances. Available at: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/4/e1602368.full [Accessed March 22, 2019

Halbwachs M. (1992) On Collective Memory. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

John W. Berry, Ype H. Poortinga, Marshall H. Segall, Pierre R. Dasen (2008) Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2nd edn., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Olick, Jeffrey and Robbins, Joyce. (2003). Social Memory Studies: From “Collective Memory” to the Historical Sociology of Mnemonic Practices. Annual Review of Sociology. 24. 105-140. 10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.105.

Olick, Jeffrey K.; Vinitzky-Seroussi, Vered; Levy, Daniel (2011). The Collective Memory Reader. Oxford University Press.

Kilbourn, Russell J. A. Cinema, Memory, Modernity: The Representation of Memory from the Art Film to Transnational Cinema. Routledge, 2013.

Neiger M, Meyers O and Zandbert E (2011) On Media Memory: Collective Memory in a New Media Age. UK, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan Publishers.

Whitford, Steve. “From Practice to Praxis: Reflections on Filmmaking Pedagogy in the Age of Creative Industries.” Cinema Journal – Teaching Dossier (2018): n. pag. Print.

Film viewing list

Research Proposal

Firstly, writing a research proposal is not easy, or I should say formulating the research question is a difficult proposition. I started this process several  months ago with just a very basic outline of what I was most passionate about in Film production (Documentary) and then  the hard work began. I had this idea about a question that only the production of a documentary film could answer and be accessible to both academics and the general public. Getting started, have a plan, which again takes thought and is definitely worth doing before starting to research your chosen subject. For example, my plan and initial research centred on identifying the institutions that supported a PhD by practice and in my chosen field, that is Documentary Film.  After identifying the surprisingly small number of institutions that could possibly support my studies and supervise my PhD project, the next step was to find a supervisor.

Supervisors. Finding a supervisor for your project can also a great way of talking to specialists in your chosen subject, gaining knowledge and assistance in producing your research proposal. I was fortunate to find a number of potential supervisors through their University staff pages. I think it is important to follow up any exchange of emails with a telephone conversation and possibly a meeting to discuss your project, I certainly did both of these.

What is the contact sequence? I contacted my potential advisors by email, just by expressing my subject interest and seeing if there is a mutual interest. I then followed up positive responses with my outline research proposal. Now I only had positive responses, which I assume was due to my initial research into my subject and the interests of my potential supervisors. After all contacting an academic who specialises in History for example, when your chosen subject is about the Environment isn’t really going to be of interest. Next arrange a telephone conversation or just jump into a Skype call, but ask permission OK, my contacts in the main made this suggestion anyway. For some I actual missed out on the telephone conversation and arranged to meet. Meetings. Be prepared, for some I just had an enjoyable chat on a subject of mutual interest but for some it felt more like a final exam, so be prepared.

Research Proposal Pitfalls

Note. Beware of writing your proposal to fit others, I do not mean the format or general guidelines as such, but I mean the subject itself. It is too easy to divert away from your chosen subject and the essence of what makes studying for a PhD passionate to you by making the proposal fit another project, or for an institutions requirements. Fortunately the institutions and supervisors I contacted in the main, were totally onboard with my proposal and I was grateful for all the assistance I received in focussing my proposal before submission.

Check your institutions research proposal guidelines. One size does not fit all for example some asked me to complete a online template with character count limitations for each section, others just has an overall character limit for example 8,000 and for some it was left up to the applicant  as to how much to write.

Write for each institution, what I mean by that is taking note of the template sections, for example some ask for a specific response to a question like your approach to Ethics, diversity and another asked specifically how you would approach funding your research.

There are any number of guides available online with templates for writing your research proposal and in fact many of the institutions have application forms for you to download. examples can be found here:-

Find a PhD – Writing a Research Proposal

Collective Memory a Film Viewing List