The annual Journal of Media Practice and Education and MeCCSA Practice Network Symposium took place at the University of Lincoln on June 15th 2018.
This year’s theme was ‘Contexts for Film Practice’ and our aim was to explore the diversity and breadth of work taking place in film practice research. We invited colleagues to address this with an aim of broadening current boundaries to allow for a more fluid use of practice research in film studies.
Traditional film research and scholarship, published in book-based formats or similar has tended to investigate film by seeking out associative theory, or analysed films and their contexts from a variety of perspectives, whereas filmmakers often suggest that their artefacts ought to speak for themselves. An influx of active filmmakers entering the HE environment, in part due to industry changes, has coincided with increasing pressure for production outputs in all forms to be framed and delivered as ‘REF-able’ in the research environment. The symposium aimed to investigate these pressures and turn a spotlight on those engaged in practice as research in film. Additionally, to explore how some of these film practitioners are bridging what might be seen as a dichotomy between those who make films and those who write about films and their contexts. We also asked how practice as research in the film production context impacts on wider society in REF terms; and how films and their makers might contribute to the progression of knowledge in the context of academic research.
Keynote speakers were Professor Craig Batty, Head of Creative Writing, University of Technology Sydney, and Professor Brian Winston, Lincoln Chair, University of Lincoln.
Batty delivered the opening keynote, providing a relevant context for proceedings by focusing on impact. Through interrogating our understanding of what impact is, he explored various pathways of engagement and considered whether esteem is intrinsically linked to impact or not.
A wide range of papers with Q&A followed, with twenty six speakers distributed between these themes: Screenplay and Adaptation, Film Pedagogy, Sense of Place, Contexts and Impact, New Documentary Methods, Documentary / Experimental Practice, Unwritten Research, People and Histories.
The day concluded with Professor Winston’s closing keynote presentation in which he considered the current framework of teaching film production in higher education and reminds us that most film theory is focused on spectatorship. He concluded that in order to educate students most effectively in the contemporary age, we must maintain our own integrity and passion for filmmaking.
We received many messages from delegates and comments were very positive. The event was a great success overall.