For decades I have, without knowing it, been walking past the place where Broadcasting in Wales began. It launched on 13th February 1923 in the building that’s now a NISA store, opposite Cardiff Castle. I spotted the commemorative plaque only recently.
On New Year’s Day this year the Western Mail published an article by the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, Saleem Kidwai. He claimed that a precious achievement in Welsh cultural life is in jeopardy and that a generation have felt ‘rejected by their fellow Welshmen’.
Welsh-Muslim youth who thought themselves like any other Welsh person got a rude awakening post-9/11 — a sort of cultural shock that they were not like any other Welsh person. Overnight, they were the other, the enemy…
As Mr Kidwai set out the traumatic ramifications of this tragic dissociation I felt the force of his appeal that, “As a society… We have to reject any attempts to marginalize Muslims as second-class citizens” but I was perplexed as to how to go about that.
Until I perceived a potential response from the world of journalism itself – from journalism in Wales.
In the hour-long class I gave to Michigan State University students we had to use a large teaching room in order to have space to dance. On the back wall are four posters which I designed last year for the teaching I did on the Documentary Pathway which is an option on the M.A. in International Journalism at Cardiff University. I stopped teaching on this course last year but the posters are still there so I took advantage of them briefly. The posters were an experiment in displaying some basic principles of practice. I’d like to focus on one of them here. It’s from an interview given by the late great American documentarian, Albert Maysles (Salesman, Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens et al).
He addresses something which documentary-makers do not, in my experience, speak about often or readily. Maybe this is merely symptomatic of the fact that I’m of a generation that learned on the job and that revered good practice but talked little about theory. (Perhaps I’ll get a chance to explore that in the upcoming Wales Documentary Day, of which more in another post.)
Maysles talks about the gaze. Continue reading Documentary practice – a secret room of golden light
Continuing the hour-long class I gave to Communications students from Michigan State University, we took a look at the notion of witness in Documentary. This was done in admittedly very simple terms.
The role of a documentary-maker involves serving the circulation of life within the community and delivering the Real and the True. One of the ways of doing that is by means of facilitating witness. Continue reading What exactly IS empathy, butt?
Some municipes at work on a Green Bay Media documentary shoot!
In the previous post I outlined the first half of an hour’s class I gave to students of Communications from Michigan State University as part of their British Mass Media Programme visit to the UK. Having considered how the ‘I’ of the film-maker interacts with the ‘You’ of other people, who are the subjects of the film, to create the ‘Us’ of the viewing community, we moved on to reflect on what Communication is, and what it is for, and furthermore what the role of a professional communicator might be – all in 20 minutes! Continue reading Munificent Documentary
On May 22nd I gave a class for students of Communication from Michigan State University. Every year the university organises a trip to the UK for students to learn about the media here. For the last four years I’ve given the group an hour about documentary in Wales but since by now I’ve formed the impression that for most of them documentary is not an area that is high on their agenda I also offer a sort of basic consideration of what documentary is and what it can do.
As the group left yesterday one of them said, with a brilliant smile, ‘Thank you for teaching us to DANCE!’ So what has dancing got to do with documentary? Continue reading Dancing into Documentary
ACADEMICS AND TV DOCUMENTARY-MAKING
A WORKSHOP for CARDIFF UNIVERSITY GRADUATE COLLEGE
This is the fourth year I’ve presented this 3-hour workshop. I designed it as a contribution towards bridging the gap between the media and academia. I believe it still to be an unusual offer amongst university training because media training offered to academics is usually in the area of short-form and news-related input, not in long-form documentary. Between these two forms there are significant differences in working practice for journalists and, from the academics’ perspective, the skills needed to have a happy time as a contributor to a documentary are different to those that will produce a snappy sound-bite.
Academia and the media are two worlds which can intersect very fruitfully. However, when they don’t understand each other’s priorities and practices there are sometimes tears before bedtime.
The workshop is designed to examine key aspects of both worlds: what do they value? what do they want? what are they for? Where do these overlap and where must one recognise that they differ? Continue reading ACS and DOCS – Academics and TV Documentary-making
Cardiff University Graduate College:
- Ø Useful for anyone investing in the media side of research, also interesting just to see how research can be translated into TV
- Ø A really valuable workshop if you like to be engaged with media
- Ø A great opportunity to understand how academics can engage with TV documentary production
- Ø It teaches/introduces the basics of academic – TV partnership
- Ø Worth doing if you are interested in how your research can be used in TV
- Ø An excellent way to prepare yourself for making a documentary incorporating academic knowledge/sources
I have a varied engagement with universities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels as a professional tutor, visiting speaker and workshop leader. I am a steering committee member for several academic projects and contributor to academic publications.
Currently I’m writing an article for the next edition of ‘Llafur’ the Welsh People’s History journal, about the war memorial in Merthyr Tydfil which featured in my BBC Radio Wales documentary Of Mourning and Memory.
Awduron: Gwerthwch Eich Ffilm