Join the Conversation

by jwolowic ~ January 24th, 2011

Michael Wesch’s newest production.

Rethinking how we produce, share, and learn. Redoing how the university works.

Snowflake Method of Documentary Film

by jwolowic ~ January 20th, 2011

I wonder if this method can be adapted for assembling documentary film

Snowflake Method of Novel Writing

1. Write a one-sentence summary of your film. This is the thesis statement.

2. Expand the sentence to a paragraph describing the story major events and the ending. What is the narrative arc?

3. Now consider the main people you interviewed and write a one page summary for each, considering the following points:

  • A one-sentence summary of each person’s importance.
  • What does each person add to the thesis statement?
  • What do they add for the audience watching film?

4. Go back to the summary you wrote in 2 and expand each sentence into a paragraph. Describe each shot/scene of each person from your raw footage that best answers these questions.

5. Write a one page description for each person, which tells the thesis from their point of view. This will help you narrow down your film characters to just a few people.

6. See if the themes of their footage matches the footage of other characters.

7. Look for overlaps and unique critical moments

8. Using the expanded synopsis, make a list of every scene you would want to include

9. Using the scene list, see where each character would enter and exit the film.

10. Assemble your first cut.

11. Then the HARD part begins.  What do you cut out??

Ok, so it starts strong but the methods start to fade around number 7 and 8.  The key is to think about construction of the film as driven by characters (depending on how you want your film to be and what you are emphasizing).  For me it’s about connecting the audience to the people on screen so I think I’ll have to try this method on my next project.

Best Anthropology Blogs to Follow

by jwolowic ~ January 17th, 2011

I got this link from @anthroworks post on twitter and wanted to pass it along.  A great list!

http://www.mastersinteaching.com/top-50-blogs-for-anthropologists/

Research Proposal Mind Map

by jwolowic ~ September 29th, 2010

A visual representation of the questions, theories, methods, ideas, and issues floating around in my head available at Spicynodes.com

http://www.spicynodes.org/a/6a71c2db6a8a5951d138f6dcdfb1d6a5

I would love to make it 3-D

Online Indigenous Community of Filmmakers

by jwolowic ~ May 1st, 2010

ISUMA TV

ISUMA TV

IsumaTV is a free service where indigenous people and organizations can create their own space and upload videos, audio, images and text.

A fantastic collection of films and channels of work by Indigenous filmakers from all over the world.

Collaborative Research Hokey Pokey

by jwolowic ~ April 30th, 2010

You put the Southern tradition in,

You take the Northern tradition out.

You put the reciprocal, reflexive, emancipatory, positional in,

And you shake the subjectivity all about

You do the collaborative research hokey pokey and you turn yourself inside out.

And we hope we don’t forget what it’s actually about.

Need a dose of Anthropology?

by jwolowic ~ April 29th, 2010

A collection of anthropology blogs and anthropology related blogs.

Updated every three hours

http://www.antropologi.info/blog/

Film Festival at the University of British Columbia

by jwolowic ~ April 26th, 2010

tww

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So… What do you do?

by jwolowic ~ April 26th, 2010

An anthropologist walks into a coffee shop to write a paper.

Standing in line she hears the word ethnography.  One of the university student baristas says, “When I think of ethnography I think of khaki and pith helmets.  Those guys surrounded by the Natives.”

It’s the anthropologist’s turn to order caffeine.  ”A double espresso please.  And are talking about ethnography?  I’m an anthropologist.”

Both the barista jaws drop. The chit chat in the cafe quiets. They were expecting a pith helmet, not my ratty culture jamming sweatshirt.

“So… what do you do?” A caffeine addict at the end of the line asks.

The moment of opportunity! Here academics need to take a page from the film industry.  Can you in 3 sentences or less explain what you do in terms that the average person will understand AND be interested in.  How good is your pitch?”

“I explore how we make and watch documentary films and how films affect our understandings of the world.  Then I think about how you can apply making and watching films towards exploring the experiences of Aboriginal youth.”

Now, I get to cheat a little.  You mention film and in general everyone says “cool!”  They can relate to it.  But I easily could have gone into the theory, into the jargon, and tossed out references that easily roll off my tongue.  Time-image, collaborative participatory ethnography, post-structural deconstruction of Aboriginal discourse,identity,  political economic structures, reception theory, power-knowledge,  resiliency, affect and idea…but fortunately I hadn’t received that double espresso yet.

The pitch worked.  What followed for the next ten minutes was a public discussion of anthropology.

“I thought anthropologists just looked at… like stuff from the past.”Another caffeine addict interjects. “They can but they seek to understand people from every perspective” and I gave a 30 second summary of the squabbling siblings of anthropologies 4 fields and how they work together.  ”So you’ve read Mauss, I had to read that.” The barista asked. “Yup, the world is all about reciprocity!” “Who? What?” as a man peaks above a newspaper.  A minute later the entire coffee shop knew why they give Christmas presents. The conversation drifted into the basics of what anthropologists explore and a more detailed summary of my own projects. I was able to start throwing out and explaining a few key pieces of academic jargon and they stayed with me. I ended up getting handshakes from a couple customers and my coffee for free!

Anthropologists exist at an interesting intersection in the knowledge production industry.  While most scientists bring the real world into the controlled environment of the lab, our field is based on escaping the isolated ivory tower to participate in the real world.  This provides us infinite opportunities to share our ideas with real people outside.  But when we become so absorbed in talking with people who know the same jargon and theory, can we translate these ideas in the moment we’re forced to explain what we do in terms they understand? We need to practice talking in two different languages so we can work to expand the vocabularies and understandings of those outside academia.

When we can, when we effectively explain what we do to strangers we get to watch people walk away with a new understanding of their relationships with society. That was one awesome double espresso!

Answer the Question vs Explaining the answer

by jwolowic ~ April 23rd, 2010

Sport science inspires an social science approach.

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I’m an endorphin addict with a curiosity about sports and human performance so I was reading The Science of Rugby: Articles  of interest and revisiting the role of science is in sports medicine over my morning cup of caffeine.

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The article points out how sports scientists often seek to explain what coaches and athletes already know. The same could often be said of social scientists.  Thus the people most affected by the research aren’t interested.  Their answer is that sports scientists should seek a “coach driven” approach to answer questions they have about increasing performance. They are arguing for a collaborative model of research practice.

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Setting up a collaborative model has been my approach towards my groundwork for my upcoming fieldwork.  I’ve been going to organizations offering my research background and literally asking them “what question would you like to have energy directed towards? ”  And I’ve been striking out. I mean they go completely blank and I have yet to give me an answer.

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One person was able to say “we’re not really interested in having what we do validated, we know it works.”   Sound familiar to the sport scientists? I now realize I trying to set an “explain the answer” research model during our conversation.  Meantioning structures and “how the process works” before handing the research topic over to them and leaving the field too open for them to come up with a question.

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But the blank responses also reflect how researchers generally approach organizations.  Organizations are used to researchers telling them their research question and asking if they can use a program in their organization as a study sample.  The organization then has a simple yes or no decision without investing energy in worrying about the project.  My approach is valuable in that it seeks to find the most useful research question for the organization but requires organizations, already strapped for time, to invest a lot of energy at the very beginning.  Yes it will create more value  for the organization in the long run, but they don’t know that for sure.

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So I need to ask organizations what do you want to improve?  What’s your biggest challenge? What in the past week has made you scratch your head? I need to throw the conversation back into answerable bounds and place the burden of coming up with a research question back on my shoulders.   Hopefully then I will get answers that will find the questions.

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