Building on the successful AHRC funded StoryLab International Film Development Research Network project that was delivered by Professor Erik Knudsen (University of Central Lancashire, UK) and his team, Dr Nico Meissner (Griffith Film School, Australia), Dr Carolina Patiño (University of Ibagué, Colombia) and Sarah Kuntoh (National Film and Television Institute, Ghana), in the ODA countries of Malaysia, Ghana and Colombia during 2017, the AHRC granted Follow On Funding for the StoryLab Skills Training for Democratised Film Industries project, which built on the experiences gained, methodologies developed and the network of independent filmmakers with whom the project engaged, to research and develop a scaleable skills training impact strategy and framework to be rolled out across Colombia. Where the AHRC network allowed us to explore the content and styles of the stories being expressed in the 3 ODA countries, a Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement grant has allowed us to venture into new unexplored territory of seeking an understanding of how the methodologies developed in the AHRC Network project could be applied to economic and cultural benefit through innovative skills training and understanding the importance of the role of cinematic storytelling in economic and cultural development.
While there are many existing programmes that target technical (digital) skills training, young people, globally, increasingly have advanced digital skills, but lack experience of original ideas generation and storytelling skills. These are essential skills that underpin any technological knowledge and lead to advanced development of creative craft skills that can be deployed in a variety of employment contexts. The focus of this skills training research project was, therefore, on story and narrative skills, contextualised within creative entrepreneurial skills, including presentation, planning and communications skills.
Three research questions lay at the heart of the project:
a) How can original creative ideas generation and storytelling skills be embedded in a skills training programme for young people that takes advantage of democratised access to the filmmaking medium and industry in low to middle income countries?
b) In what ways can entrepreneurial skills related to the articulation, selling and development of narrative ideas and stories be embedded in story and narrative film training for young people to empower and enable effective engagement with, and meaningful work within, emerging film industries?
c) How can local and regional universities, training partners and policy makers work together to create a sustainable learning environment and what might this scalable, social networked and mentored platform look like and how can these services transcend class, gender and cultures to contribute to the development of a vibrant creative economic sector within a low to middle income economy?
Using interdisciplinary approaches inspired from music and anthropology, the StoryLab Skills Training for Democratised Film Industries project utilised a methodology developed out of the AHRC funded StoryLab International Film Development Research Network entitled Ethnomediaology. Ethnomediaology is 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, evaluation and impact implementation. In the case of skills training, it will involve the active participation of local and regional Colombian Filmmaker-Mentors, who will deliver the core workshops, local or regional University Partners and strategic local or regional Film Sector Partners.