‘Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories
individuals and nations live by and you change the individuals and nations’.
One hundred years of hegemonic dominance from Western, predominantly Hollywood, values and aesthetics may have created a long term effect on how filmmakers in the developing world, and independent filmmakers in the developed world, tell stories cinematically. Digital technology is, however, making the filmmaking form accessible, opening up opportunities for diverse individuals and cultures to express their own identities through film. The explosion of filmmaking in black sub-Saharan Africa, the emergence of a strong Latin American cinema and the empowerment of independent filmmaking evident in South East Asia are but a few examples of the consequence of the democratisation not only of production technologies, but means of distribution and exhibition. As filmmakers in the developing world become more confident about their filmmaking and their own identities, how is this growing confidence going to challenge notions of quality, visual aesthetic, narrative structure and story themes for so long set by aspirations towards Western cinema?
Building on the successful AHRC funded StoryLab International Film Development Research Network project 2016 – 2018, the AHRC have committed to supporting follow on project, StoryLab Skills Training for Democratised Film Industries 2019 – 2020, which will build upon and extend the experiences gained, methodologies developed and the network of independent filmmakers with whom the original project engaged, to research and develop a scaleable skills training strategy and framework to be rolled out across Malaysia, Ghana and Colombia. Where the AHRC network allowed us to explore the content and styles of the stories being expressed in the 3 ODA countries, the AHRC Follow on Funding for Impact and Engagement grant allows us to venture into new unexplored territory of exploring how the methodologies developed can be applied to generate direct impact through innovative skills training and understanding the importance of the role of cinematic storytelling in economic and cultural development. The AHRC Follow on Funding for Impact and Engagement project would focus on one of the original countries the AHRC StoryLab Network worked in – Colombia – as a detailed case study that could be replicated and scaled.
Utilising interdisciplinary approaches inspired from music and anthropology, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded StoryLab Research Network 2016 – 2018 developed a methodology entitled Ethnomediaology. An interdisciplinary approach inspired by practices in Ethnomusicology and Autoethnography, Ethnomediaology involves the active and immersive participation of researchers in the research culture and process, using this active personal engagement as a basis for knowledge generation, data gathering and evaluation. The StoryLab Research Network 2016 – 2018 sought to explore the following questions: What are the consequences for the democratisation of the means of filmmaking and film dissemination on how filmmakers in the developing world tell cinematic stories and in what ways are these stories, and their mode of expression, reflecting a different perspective on living in an increasingly globalised world? In what ways may these emerging narrative developments impact cinematic storytelling in the UK and beyond?