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Reflections on using film in fieldwork

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Macfarlane, Alan 


These reflections on filming among the Gurungs were made in the autumn of 2000 A.D. Alan Macfarlane talked into the camera in order to capture some of the types of film he made, the changing technologies, and some tips on how to film in the field. This was filmed on 3-chip digital video. The clips should be viewed over broadband.


The history of my early filming and photography on an 8mm film camera, 1968-1987

Filming on video from 1988; the advantages

What should one film? Finding a theme

Filming and editing in the 1990's; the bulk of the film.

Which kinds of film are effective? The unities of time, place and subject

The value of showing films in the village; what interested the villagers

Using film in teaching; the idea of surrogate fieldwork or 'virtual reality day'

Making films about how anthropologists actually do fieldwork

Dilmaya's death and memorial ritual in 1995; a watershed in the filming

Interviews wih Dilmaya; the value of extended narrative

The advantages (and disadvantages) of Hi-8 from 1991 and digital film from 1998

Working with television (1999) and the three-chip camera revolution

The potentials of new film technology; combining roles in film production

Some difficulties in the audience; the limitations of narrow and broadcasting

The difficulty of getting ideas across in films

The development of multi-media (videodisc, DVD,WWW) as a way of combining ideas and images

The archival value of anthropological film

How filming can help observation and analysis in anthropology

Some tips on how to make less than awful films

Various anthropological data gathering methods; interviews, census, note taking...

The ethics of fieldwork, especially film making

Returning materials to the societies where they were originated

A brief list of the kind of film I have taken and made


anthropology, fieldwork, filming, video, Gurung, Nepal

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