Posted by: | 23rd Nov, 2020

Moving into New Facilities!

Update: November 23, 2020.

After early two years of discussions, planning, applications, and then construction, the new purpose-built digital production space for The Ethnographic Film Unit @ UBC is now a reality. Due to the ongoing pandemic we won’t be able to physically use the new space for some time. However, things are moving forward and furniture is soon to be moving back into the rebuilt space. While the new lab was primarily envisioned as production facilities for the Film Unit, other members of the department will be able to make use of the new space as well. Currently a new working group for the Digital and Virtual Media Lab is getting set up.

As part of a retention agreement, the Faculty of Arts and the Dept of Anthropology committed to rebuilding the production facilities of The Ethnographic Film Unit. This was in part to ensure that graduate students could have an above ground main floor lounge in the former film unit lab. The Film Unit is now the primary occupant of the rebuilt space.  Space surplus to the Film Unit will be available for use by the emerging Digital and Virtual Media Lab Group.

The Film Unit remains as separate digital film production unit of the department. People who wish to join the unit, or use the unit’s equipment, may do so as per the details found at The unit remains pleased to share equipment and space.

It is envisioned that the Film Unit will be a partner in the newly emerging DVML Group and play a role on a steering committee to coordinate access and activities of the régroupment.

Update: August 26, 2019.

After a year of applications, waiting, discussions, negotiations, and just more waiting; the good news. Funding to accomplish the renovations for the Film Lab have been approved!  Work is scheduled for summer 2020.  In the meantime the film lab remains in AnSo 2306. Two years from the date of the department head’s first request to repurpose the film lab to having funding approved for creating a suitable purpose built space for the lab that ultimately provides a win for all concerned. The first idea was a displacement of the film lab with no suitable replacement space offered. Glad to see that with determination and discussion equitable resolutions that respect all parties can be achieved.


ANSO 2306:  Film production lab

ANSO 118, 120, 128, 129 (individual small rooms adjacent to one another with connecting doors):  Lab of Archaeology Archives Collections Processing and Storage Area

After Renovation:

ANSO 2306:  Graduate Student Research Lab

ANSO 118, 120, 128, 129 (renovated into one room):  Film production lab

Proposal:  to renovate an adjacent series of under-utilized small rooms in the lower floor of the ANSO Building (Rms. 118, 120, 128, and 129) in order to transform them into a single larger video production lab for undergraduate and graduate video production.  At the same time a room currently being used for video production (2306) will be renovated and converted into a graduate student research space.

The good news is . . . our project has been approved – – we have signoff!

Great news for the Film Unit. We will be relocating into a purpose-built space in the next little while. The current lab has served its purpose well, but is essentially a long room not designed with collaborative film production in mind.  A confluence of unrelated events and processes has made the move to upgraded facilities possible.

Opportunities are indeed located in disruption! Over the quiet summer months administrative staff in the department and faculty were engaged in their regular review of facilities.  The faculty of arts, in particular, faces a serious problem of lack of adequate space for research, teaching, and social activities. As our faculty grows, our facilities have not kept pace; many of our buildings are long overdue for renovation and replacement. AnSo Building, a former women’s dormitory built in the 1950s, is sorely in need of repairs and can barely meet the needs of the departments of anthropology and sociology.  Administrative staff were exploring ways to find efficiencies in facilities use and identify areas where renovations would make a difference.

At the same time, the Department received a list of requests including one that has been a longstanding area of concern for graduate students in anthropology: more usable, safe, and effective social and study space. Given current building configurations there isn’t really any spare space around.

That’s where the two processes came together.

The Film Unit has needed better purpose built facilities for some time now. Graduate students need a place to meet and work in the department. The administration was already working on renovations to improve research and teaching spaces in the building. This created the perfect moment to make changes to meet all of these various needs.

The Film Unit is excited with the prospects of a new purpose-build lab within the AnSo Building that will clear the way for a new social and work space for our graduate students.  The transition won’t happen overnight. There is a lot of work to do first. The great thing is that we will be able to meet the needs of all concerned in a respectful, dignified, and just manner.  The Film Unit will be better able to serve the needs and interests of the wider community with the renewed support of the department and university. Students will have a place of their own. The university will have found a way to respect students and faculty at the same time.

Originally published September 11, 2018.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Canada
This work by The Ethnographic Film Unit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Canada.