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  • 00:02

    [Ethnographic Video-- Filmmaking in Academia]

  • 00:17

    WESLEY SHRUM: And so you've got a shotgun.You've got a size that your using.

  • 00:25

    GREG SCOTT: All right.So we've got our external monitorand we've got our road stereo for 5T.Hi I'm Greg Scott.I'm a Professor of Sociology at DePaul Universityin Chicago. [Greg Scott, Filmmaker and Director, SocialScience Research Center]

  • 00:36

    WESLEY SHRUM: Hi I'm Wesley Shrum.I'm a professor at Louisiana State Universityin Baton Rouge. [Wesley Shrum, Director and Professor,Department of Sociology]

  • 00:43

    GREG SCOTT: Ethnography is a research methodologythat's been used for better than 100 yearsin the social sciences.I think it probably originated within the fieldof anthropology but has been used very widelyin many different disciplines.And it's basically writing about people.That's what it - that's what it means.That it's literal definition.

  • 01:04

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: Most of us refer to it as a methodologythat involves, investigating one or another culture.And so it's basically a method for studyingdifferent cultures.

  • 01:15

    WESLEY SHRUM: Ethnography traditionallywas an approach to sociology, anthropology,and other disciplines where you would go and live with a group.And - and study it for a lengthy timewhile you become immersed in the cultureand social structure of the group but it's become fluid.

  • 01:37

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: Ethnography now as is a qualitative methodbut it's not very clear anymore what it precisely refers to.

  • 01:46

    GREG SCOTT: Ethnography is a qualitative methodbut you're working with a really large number of variablesbut a really small number of cases.So for thinking about this methodologically, quantitativeresearch you're working with a limited numberof variables with but with a huge number of cases.So in ethnography where immersing or getting ourselvesinto a culture trying to understand

  • 02:08

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: that culture on its own terms.What's the logic of the culture.How are people communicating.What systems have they developed to get by in the world.And is really I think a method thatspeaks to the question of how things get done.So it's qualitative in that it focuses on how.Processes and systems and the way thingsoperate in daily life.

  • 02:28

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: Part of his performance strategy isto use space and ways that accentuatethe content of the performance.So he'll probably move around the room a little bit.There's also, he's gotta a character, a mascot that'sin uniform, a mascot uniform.Do you have moleskins for bouncing on Zack.

  • 02:49

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: He's pretty active.He like shakes and convulses and all that.So there's going to be, he wears gold chains.So that's the other thing we have to -I mean I've actually never really hadmuch of a problem with it.

  • 03:00

    WESLEY SHRUM: OK.Well maybe we shouldn't -

  • 03:02

    GREG SCOTT: Plus it's also just naturalbecause when you're actually at his performance,you hear the gold chains when he's close to you.So it never really bothered me that much.

  • 03:09

    WESLEY SHRUM: The reason video ethnographyis so important is because the social sciences havehad a tendency recently to become overly theoretical.And the great thing about video isthat it forces you to be specific about whatyou're observing.We talked to a magician last night.He was a card magician.

  • 03:30

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: He used his hands to do card tricks.He said, as soon as you start theorizingabout what I'm doing you stop observing what I'm doing.And that's how I do it.There's only three things that you can film.You can film people.You can film events.And you can film locations.That's all you can film.Everything in the world consists of people

  • 03:52

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: and events and locations.

  • 03:54

    GREG SCOTT: So he did a performanceat Cranbrook Academy Museum it's basicallythe same kind of thing he's working on right now.And so I shot that with XF100.So that was the main camera but I alsohad the Harinezumi, the Japanese digital toy camera.Because in that case we wanted to make

  • 04:15

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: a film that would contribute somethingbeyond just the documentation of the performance.I think that ethnography in general,as a methodology is important because it's especially gearedto understanding how people make sense of the world.How they interpret the world around them.How they make sense of signs and symbols.Whatever those are whether it's language or actual signs

  • 04:37

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: or the built environment.Ethnography is the study of how people make meaning.Video ethnography is a way of, not just documentingin a very precise, specific way the things that peopledo or don't do together socially,but it's also a way to present that material in a form that

  • 05:00

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: isn't constrained by text.Classically, most of the work done in the social sciencesis constrained by text.It's produced for the main reason of generating textaccounts.And those aren't particularly resonant with a lot of people.I think there's a much bigger audience for video ethnography

  • 05:20

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: than there is for any other method in the social sciences.Why?Because, for better or worse, nearly everyone in the worldis visually literate enough to understand a film, a movie.

  • 05:35

    WESLEY SHRUM: There's been big pushin sociology and related disciplinesrecently for public engagement.And yet all of the discussion about public engagementis about writing so that more people can read it.Why are we assuming literacy?A lot of people in the world don't evenread but they like watching movies.Movies are the most important technology of the last century.

  • 05:56

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: That's what people like to see.Why not present them information in the waythey want to consume it?

  • 06:01

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: So I can be like from here to here.

  • 06:05

    GREG SCOTT: Yup.I think the medium of film or videois really well suited to ethnography.If only because traditionally many of uswho are ethnographers pay very close attentionto the visual dynamics of the cultures that we're studying.In fact, it's one of the things that you'll firstnotice and then notice when traveling into another culture.

  • 06:29

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: It's one of the things you'll remember bestafter you've returned from wherever you've traveled.It's those visual elements.And the visual aspect of our lived experienceis arguably dominant.I mean it's a really important feature of the way weoperate as humans.And so I believe that video ethnography is very well suited

  • 06:51

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: to certain kinds of studies whereyou're really interested in observing how people do things.And where the visual dimension is of utmost importance.

  • 07:02

    WESLEY SHRUM: At some point you have to record something.And there's only a number - not that many waysto record something.You record it with your eyes but if you do that, you bettergo and write some notes pretty quickbecause you're going to forget it.You can record it if you have a sound recorder,like a digital recorder or any kind of voice recorder.That's fine, that's good too.But now the technology has changed.It's become user friendly it's become possible for anybody

  • 07:24

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: to get a camcorder or a audio visual recorder in their hands.And there's no reason they shouldn't do that.

  • 07:31

    GREG SCOTT: So we'll start just by talking to them as a groupabout like what's going on and whythey're doing this rehearsal.Like what's the point of it.So I'll just throw some questions off camera.So I'll be behind you.And then you can just shoot it hand-held if that's cool.

  • 07:47

    WESLEY SHRUM: OK.That sounds good.

  • 07:49

    GREG SCOTT: So just be - because mainly Zack's gonna explain itand he's going to talk to Christina and Maddieabout what he needs from them today during the rehearsal.There's also something very specific about film or videowhich is that you have the abilityto capture motion with audio and through editing compresstime and space.

  • 08:09

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: And that makes the medium itself,from a social science perspective,different and unique.So the field of visual sociology, for instance,started with still photography.Black and white still photography.So if you want to do a study of how people, how families setthe dinner table before a meal like Thanksgiving

  • 08:30

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: meal or a holiday meal or something like that.But you're not interested in the peopleyou want to see the arrangement of the tables.Then photography is a great way to go.But if you want to see how they set the table,as in what's the process they use for setting the table.Then you would want to use film or video.So there is a relationship between the medium,the research question, and the content of what you're filming

  • 08:52

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: and that's important to realize.

  • 08:54

    WESLEY SHRUM: Social understandingis always about process.Process is something that happens over time.You now have a technology where youcan record things over time.And that's why you should be doing it.You never understand things statically.You always understand things in the way theyevolve, or change, or move.

  • 09:13

    GREG SCOTT: If we could just start by having you Zack,talk with Christina and [INAUDIBLE]about what we're doing today and what this rehearsal is about,the upcoming show.And then like what you want from them.So for this shoot today I'm going to be off camera.So I'll throw out questions or prompts things like that.And Wes is going to be shooting.So but don't you don't I have to look at the camera anything

  • 09:34

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: you can if you want to but it's not at all necessary.So I just like to let them know what's going onand what you want out of today.Today we were filming a performance artist who goesby the performance name Beverly Fre$h.I started filming artists in 2011.Initially my interest was in how artists do their work. .

  • 09:56

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: And I was not interested in professional artists.People who make a living being artists but rather people whoin fact, may not consider themselvesto be artists at all.So it eventually kind of evolved into a direct and specificinterest in performance art.The mode of performance art or performance art as a mediumis very interesting in that it relies very, very

  • 10:16

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: heavily on visuals, and audio, and how those twodimensions interact over time.So for me it seemed like a particularly -a medium particularly well suited to film and videoIn developing an understanding of how performanceartists construct and devise their performances

  • 10:39

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: and then deliver them to an audience.So understanding that as a process, usingkind of sociological concepts, was the main pointof the project that we've been filming today.

  • 10:52

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: All right, so thisis going to be a rehearsal for a showthat I have coming up in Arkansas at the InversePerformance Festival, called Mr. Mdwest, A Real Good Time.And it's based on a set that I did last year at the Cranbrookmuseum But it's sort of condensed per the festivalrequirements.So there's some things that I'm doing differently.

  • 11:13

    ZACK OSTROWSKI [continued]: And there's some new moments that I've built in.And I'm not going to tell you necessarily what those are.But maybe we'll see if there's things thatlook shaky that you point out.Or there's some crowd interactionand I'm not sure how to deal with that necessarily,but at least in the beginning I'llprobably call on one of you or both of you

  • 11:34

    ZACK OSTROWSKI [continued]: and so just pretend.You can either answer it as yourselfor pretend you're a character or a crowd member.And then there'll be some more momentswhere there's ideally a lot of group participationand that will just be faked.

  • 11:49

    GREG SCOTT: We're trying to understand the waythat this particular performance artists and others that we maybe involved in filming conceptualize and use space,the way they use time, and the way that theyuse visual signaling, when they'reconstructing a performance.

  • 12:09

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: So kind of getting insight into their processbut then also how they do it in the context of a performanceto an audience.So how they engage the audience through those thingsthat we've studied classically in sociology,the micro gestures, the intonation of voice,the way that the body moves through space.It is a particular interest of mine and ours, at least

  • 12:32

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: in this project, to understand howthose movements through space are scripted, and concocted,and developed by the artist in a way that makes them seem veryimprovisational to an audience.And kind of peeling back that layer of,oh this is performance art it's probablynot scripted in fact it is very, very carefully scripted.

  • 12:55

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: And kind of revealing some of the socialprocesses through which ethnographic filmis what we're doing.

  • 13:02

    SPEAKER 1: As far as the festivalrequirements, is there anything in particularthat you want to look out for?Like timing or anything like that?

  • 13:11

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: So it'll be a little bit differentbecause I'll ultimately be doing it with a largercrowd and participation.So I'll be getting feedback in timeand then also the timing of the piece is going to be different.Like the whole things kind of depending on the crowd.So this isn't going to be completely realistic.

  • 13:32

    ZACK OSTROWSKI [continued]: So you'll have to like overlook some things.But there's a few new elements that I'm testing nowthat are still in development.So I'm definitely looking and open to whatever feedbackbut I don't want to state them nowjust so it's not in your head.

  • 13:46

    WESLEY SHRUM: We're taking a lot of footage.Ultimately we're bringing those into our editing suiteand were examining that footage and thenwe're trying to create a narrative from it.And there's a real process of discoverythat goes on there because there's no possible way that Ican take that footage and write some kindof a documentary script and then go out and film that script.

  • 14:10

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: No.You're actually learning continuouslyand then because audio visual data is so rich,you're always hearing and seeing stuff that youdidn't know what was there.

  • 14:22

    GREG SCOTT: In terms of drawing out a narrativeor drawing conclusions and developing footageinto a completed film, I mean I don'tfeel in many ways it's that much different from doing old schoolpaper and pen ethnography.I often don't know for the first few months -first few months of a field study what I'm focusing on.

  • 14:43

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: I'm just trying to soak it all up.And as a video ethnographer I don't really necessarily knowwhat I'm shooting.I'll follow people, and places, and events, and maybea technology, a thing and try to focus on thoseand really start to develop an understanding of whatit is I'm there to study and examine using video.

  • 15:05

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: Then it's just kind of a back and forthbetween my conceptual theoretical understandingof certain issues as a sociologistand what it is I'm gathering the feeling what I'm seeing.I really like those early momentsbecause my concepts aren't driving very much.It's shear ignorance that's driving a lot of what I'm doingand interest.And really trying to pay attention to what people

  • 15:27

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: in the group or the culture of the community what they'repaying attention to and how they're paying attention to it.What issues are important to them?And so I'll be in a so-called crack house for instance,making a film about the people who live there.But I don't really know what the film is about.Eventually it occurs to me that there is a power structure.

  • 15:48

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: There's a hierarchy in this houseand it's actually a matriarchal structure.So now I'm developing a kind of sociological representationthrough this film of how power in this house is organized.And it's interesting to me because most peoplein the regular world, who aren't social scientists or whodon't study drug for instance, just think

  • 16:09

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: of crack houses as chaotic.There couldn't be order here.There couldn't be hierarchy.There couldn't be different peopleresponsible for different kinds of labor and activitybut the fact is a lot of differentiation.And that's what I'm interested in.So are you gonna have either of these two dressedas Payton, the mascot today for the rehearsal?

  • 16:29

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: If anybody wants to be Payton,Payton's the mascot.I think both of you know who he is right?So -

  • 16:36

    SPEARKER 1: Is it like a sound and sampletype of thing where Payton entersand waves from the balcony or -

  • 16:43

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: Ideally I would like to kind of start with himand then also having him just likehang out in the background.Like he did at my last show.

  • 16:51

    WESLEY SHRUM: I'll tell you how I maintain objectivity.I do it by letting the participants helpme make my films.And that works great.

  • 16:59

    GREG SCOTT: On the issue of objectivityit's not one that I really considervery seriously because it is a rabbit holeand no one is ever going to agree on whether or notobjectivity is even a or legitimate construct.

  • 17:14

    WESLEY SHRUM: Once your subjects or your informantsknow what you're doing, they're goingto start helping make your film.And so by working closely with him and you showing themthat you're on their side and you reallywant to work with them, they start having ideas for you.And you accommodate them.They tell you, what about going here and filming this?

  • 17:35

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: What about going here?You haven't seen this yet.This would be great for the movie.And so just in the process of making a filmgives you a kind of access that you don't have when you say,oh I'm writing a book.The best you can do is be in a book.That's not so much fun.

  • 17:56

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: But you might be a movie star.

  • 17:57

    GREG SCOTT: With video ethnographythe process keeps you more honestthan the process of producing a print text article.No one ever is really particularly interested,the informants are never really interested in reading a journalarticle that I've published based on an ethnographic study.I don't think anyone ever has.My mom doesn't read them.

  • 18:18

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: They are very interested in the film.They are very interested in watching as much of itas soon as they can as possible.Right?So they want to watch early cuts.Hey that thing we shot yesterday can I see that?Yeah, you can see that.I don't really like the way I said that.And I'll say, well why didn't - why don't youlike the way that you said it?

  • 18:39

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: Well I didn't sound tough enough.Oh that's interesting.So you didn't sound tough enough why is that important to you?And so it becomes not just a way to keep you honest but also,as Wes pointed out, it presents new opportunitiesand new factors and variables to youby virtue of the process of engagement with informants.

  • 18:59

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: And I think that it just makes for a much richer understandingof what's happening in that part of the social world.So we've got the frame established.So just go back and forth like a medium shot on Zack.Maybe a couple of close ups during the performance.And then for them mostly close up shots of reaction.And like taking notes and stuff like that.Yeah so I'm rolling.

  • 19:20

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: Are you rolling?All right.

  • 19:26

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: Oh when the dog barks.[CLAP] [CLAP] Tel me when they cat screams.[CLAP] [CLAP] Probably looking for me.That we looking for me.[CLAP] [CLAP]

  • 19:39

    GREG SCOTT: For ethnography and for video this -the same principle applies.You don't know where you're going to andbased on where you started.

  • 19:49

    WESLEY SHRUM: It is what we call the video active context.When a camera moves into this situation,it becomes a different situation.And that possibility of turning that camera on andpoint it at someone.That's a real thing in the social world.So what we try to do, is we try to use that new opportunity

  • 20:13

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: when you are just taking some field notesor you're just present in the situation well there you are.You're still there five minutes later.And you're still there.And what's the big deal?But when you have a camera you have a lot of possibilities.You can record.You cannot record.You can record audio only.You can shoot b-roll and video only.

  • 20:34

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: You can play with it and manipulate that boundariesand keep the participants interested and engaged.

  • 20:41

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: You got a Chris.Got it Chris.Wait.We have more than one Chris here.More Chris here.Raise your hand.Who's a Chris?Anybody a Chris?We got to Chris.

  • 21:02

    ZACK OSTROWSKI [continued]: Chris This one's called "The Chrissy Odyssey,"and it's for all the Chris's.All the Chris's.His name was Chris and her name was Chrissy.That t-shirt said rock-n-roll and they got tucked inside.

  • 21:26

    ZACK OSTROWSKI [continued]: They were the kind not baggy enough or thin enoughto be anything but out of time.A narrow line cross set atop the shirts.Strung by a silver bead of drool.Set by Jesus, Himself.

  • 21:47

    GREG SCOTT: In my films.I like to address issues and themes that can actuallybe addressed through film.You can't film a theory.You can't film a concept.What you can film is activity.You can film people doing things or not doing things togetherin a particular place over time.

  • 22:08

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: Then I think you've got the beginnings of a possible film.So I tend to go with the process and see where that takes me.But I am, as a sociologist, interested in issuesaround hierarchies.How groups define themselves.What are the boarders?Who's in and who's out?What are the membership criteria?How do they treat people who fall from grace?

  • 22:31

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: What's the economy of this particular group?This the economy of status or the material economy.And in every one of these cases it'sa question of what can I see and what can Icapture using film and video.

  • 22:45

    WESLEY SHRUM: For me in the important issuesin whether I do quantitative work or videoethnography have to do with now the ways in which peopleuse new information technologies and the ways in which theypotentially change the character of the social world.And this is happening all over the planet now.

  • 23:05

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: And with the mobile phone and with web phones,we have powerful computers in the handsof people that didn't even have a way to communicatebeyond shouting until recently.So for me I think it's one of the most compelling topicsof, on the planet, is the extent to which new information

  • 23:28

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: and communication technologies are changing our social world.[STOMP][STOMP][STOMP][STOMP]

  • 23:37

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: I knew I was cryingwhen the tears began to fall.I knew that she left me when there was no one at all.Ah![MAKING SOUNDS]

  • 23:56

    WESLEY SHRUM: I have a apartment in the French Quarter in NewOrleans and one day I found a note under the door.So the next door neighbor had put a note.Said that there's a guy you should meet.Here's his phone number.And so I don't know why I called him up.And we talked when I was in the video ethnography lab at LSU.And I think we talked for like three hours.

  • 24:17

    GREG SCOTT: Yeah, so it was a mutual friend wholives in the same building and she just thoughtthat we should know each other.She knew that I was a video ethographer,and knew that Wes was doing video ethnography.and She set us up.

  • 24:29

    WESLEY SHRUM: We started saying, youthink there's other people out there.Not just us but other people too.So we needed to find out.

  • 24:37

    GREG SCOTT: And we did that by creating a mechanism thatwould actually allow us to just find people in the world who dowhat we do, video ethnography.So we started a film festival for ethnographic film in Paris.And we started a journal.That I had first ever peer reviewed journalof ethnographic film and video.It's the Journal of Video Ethnography.It publishes peer reviewed films.

  • 24:60

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: And so those are two mechanisms that now allow usto find other people like us.It's like- it's like living in a really great party house.

  • 25:07

    WESLEY SHRUM: That's right peoplehave to come to the party.

  • 25:09

    GREG SCOTT: People come to us and theymake films they do what we do.And so we get together with them every year.And it's a beautiful thing.

  • 25:17

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: Do you know us?Do you know us?Know us.Know us.Know us.We need to answer the know.And be suspicious of us.Beyond an Olympic swimmer of the mind.

  • 25:41

    ZACK OSTROWSKI [continued]: Do you dive?Do you dive?And find time to ride by the gifts.Give themselves.No, ever, now, of, there is on one else.

  • 26:00

    WESLEY SHRUM: We happen to be professorsbut there's a lot of people have been doing documentariesfor a very long time.And some people think that the first film first documentaryNanook of the North was one of the early films anyway.And I think that we could say filmslike that train coming into the stationand that I think that's a documentary film isn't it?

  • 26:24

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: I mean it's a train coming into the station.So the question is whether documentary filmsare any different really from films made by academicswho are studying a subject.We used to think, well documentary filmmakers probablymake better films but academicians know more

  • 26:46

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: about their subject.But now that we've been doing this festivaland stuff for several years, I'm noteven sure I agree with that.

  • 26:54

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: Do you guys have any notes or feedback for me?

  • 26:56

    SPEAKER 2: Yes.I was thinking, like them roaming the crowd.And I think since there are so many national breaksin places where you go into other characters--

  • 27:05


  • 27:06

    SPEAKER 2: I mean I don't know I think it will be fine.

  • 27:10

    ZACK OSTROWSKI: Yeah.I mean that's kind of what I was hoping.That there was an explicit beginningand ending but it's the thing is still non-linear.You don't - if you miss the first 10 minutesit's not like you missed out on a story or anything.So it is just about the different viewsof the different characters.

  • 27:29

    SPEAKER 1: I feel like you could also take advantage of the factthat people are roaming so that you could use a differentcharacter's.You could approach different peopleas in breaks and the characters.So like you break a character you approach a new group.Like you break a knew character as people are rovingand that's how you create a crowd.

  • 27:46

    WESLEY SHRUM: The question that we've talked about interminablyand will always have to talk aboutas we do video ethnography, is howand to what extent do cameras affect the participants?People always ask us that.Like are you sure your camera's not affecting the participants?Today we shot a couple of - we shot a performance

  • 28:08

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: and we shot some people giving feedback.You could call them critics of that performance.And my question to you is, well I'm notsure those the reviewers were very critical there?I think maybe the cameras had made thema little bit go a little bit light on the criticism?I mean, what do you think?

  • 28:29

    GREG SCOTT: I mean I think that's a really good question.I think my own position is you can't reallybe anybody other than yourself whether you're on cameraor not.So you might change a little bit about how you present yourself.

  • 28:41

    WESLEY SHRUM: Well cameras make peoplebehave in any better way.You got a camera on someone they don'twant to look bad so they want to look good.And then of course the response is,so you're criticizing us for making people betterthan their regular self.But then as time went on in reality TVand all of the shenanigans of moderately real but also

  • 29:06

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: moderately fake broadcast shows came around,it almost seemed like people understoodthat if they behaved in a very kind of hostile, or aggressive,or dramatic way, they might have a chance of getting an oncamera more.So it can go either way.

  • 29:24

    GREG SCOTT: And I actually run into more problemswith people who are not being filmed but want to be filmed.Right?So causing mayhem on the side or trying to distract meor trying to get me to move my camera into their contactsand make it a video active context for them.So that they can do whatever it is they want to do.

  • 29:45

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: And sometimes that works out really well.Like the New Orleans story.Where I was making a documentary film about the rebuildingof cocaine markets.Street drug markets in New Orleansafter Hurricane Katrina.Because everybody talks about rebuildingthe economy in tourism but hardlyanybody talks about other things thatget it that need to get rebuilt like cocaine trade.

  • 30:06

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: And so I was shooting B roll one nightand somebody walks through the frame.And he just looks directly into the cameraand says, smoke more weed.And so you know it is one of these people whojust wants to be on camera for a secondand have his little bit of fame.After I finish shooting that particular sceneI walked over and talked to him.Turned out, as we kept talking over several weeks,

  • 30:29

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: he's a major drug dealer in the city of New Orleans.And I was able to build a relationship with him.Kind of follow that into his worldand he became a central figure in the documentary.Pretty much every week we'll start with 10 or 15minutes talking about the problemswe've encountered in the past week, issues

  • 30:52

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: that you're struggling with, victoriesif you want to talk about what's going well that's fine too.Wes is going to be participating with us tonight in class.So we're going to have this open kind of discussionabout where you are.You got your cameras a week ago.And you've I hope, shot some footage in the past week

  • 31:13

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: that you believe might be somehowrelevant to your project.The film that you want to make in this class.I would say the most important lessonfor students is to film often.To not be timid and afraid of the camera.We all are aware of what cameras do for the most part.And we are creating this video active context

  • 31:36

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: by turning the camera on or just even having the camera present.And it's important to realize that how you relateto your camera is largely going to determinehow your subjects are relating to the camera.So if you're meek, and timid, and bashful, and nervous, ,and ashamed of your camera, chances are that's the vibethey're going to pick up and that's really going to causesome problems.

  • 31:56

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: The thing about it is with performanceor a hyper-performance, or a performance of heightened self,Yeah that happens but no one can reallysustain that kind of acting for very long.We've all been in situations wherewe're acting some version of ourselvesit's better like a job interview.But imagine if you had to live that persona of yourself,

  • 32:19

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: that version of yourself for eight hours.Like it would - it's just not possible. .Like no one is that good of an actor.So I think where objectivity or reflexivityare concerned as concepts it's really important to understandyour scene well enough to know when people are kindof putting on a bit of a show.

  • 32:40

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: And when that happens frankly I usuallyturn the camera the other way.

  • 32:44

    SPEAKER 3: I have something.I think once I started filming it kind of ended upin the rhythm of and instead of me thinking of myself as beingin a camera separate from me talking to this person.And so, I realized that I kept just not wanting to bring it upwas just holding the camera like to my chest really

  • 33:05

    SPEAKER 3 [continued]: close and scared.And I think that was probably the hardestthing that I had to do.Because I couldn't get myself to just look at the screen asopposed to looking at her eyes while she's talking to me.So I don't know anyone else had that experience of youhad to pay the respect of making eyecontact of the person you're filmingas apposed to looking at the scream you're filming through.

  • 33:29

    GREG SCOTT: So did anybody else havethat issue of pulling out the cameraand feeling uncomfortable pointing it at someone?

  • 33:35

    SPEAKER 4: Yeah.I did.I felt like it was difficult to be engaged and be listeningto my subjects while also paying attention to my camera work.Because I want-- it was just so interestingwhat they're talking about.And I wanted to learn.

  • 33:53

    GREG SCOTT: I mean those are two dimensions of the same issueand I think they're really critical.One is the whole idea of just being a videographer.And having that camera and looking into the LCD screen.My own belief is that people you're interviewingor your filming are really much more forgivingthan you think they are.

  • 34:13

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: I think there's a burning professional questionabout disciplines and methodologies.In the world of video ethnography,there's never really been a mechanismfor gaining academic credit, for gaining legitimacy,for the work that we've done.Most of the system, almost all of the systems that

  • 34:35

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: have been set up historically, reward text basedarticles, text publications.And the fact is many social scientists, ,including the two of us have done a lot of work that isfilmic or photographic is visual.In particular reference ethnographic film,we found it troubling that there wasn't

  • 34:56

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: a mechanism for conferring academic crediton this kind of work.It's a form of scholarship that isbecoming increasingly important and we're missing that element.And that's why we started those two mechanisms,the Ethnografilm Festival which is an annual festival, whichWes is the director of and the Journal of Video

  • 35:19

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: Ethnography, which is the first ever peer reviewed journalthat publishes films.Ethnographic films mostly made by academicsthat actually contribute to that disciplines understandingof that subject matter.Those are two mechanisms that arevery important to the social sciencesbecause they both involve peer review.

  • 35:40

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: They both involve the conferring of academic legitimacyon the intellectual products made by academics who arefilmmakers. .And that's how methodology is developedthat's how methodologies that are relatively knewget traction.Through peer review and journals and festivals like this.That's how this particular medium as an academic medium

  • 36:04

    GREG SCOTT [continued]: is going to become more and more important in academia.

  • 36:08

    WESLEY SHRUM: Years before I met Greg,I would try to make this case to my colleagues.What if you made a movie at the end of your studyinstead of writing an article?And to a person everybody says, Yeah.Well that's a great idea.Yeah no problems with that.Would you like to do it?Oh, you know I don't know I don't know how.

  • 36:33

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: It's probably hard.And so we just had to start saying, look,it's not that hard.First of all, you got a camera, right?You get a phone or whatever and thenyou need to learn how to edit.But you know what editing is?It's writing.You know how to write a book?You can edit a movie.It's actually the same thing.Is to say put one foot in front of the other

  • 36:54

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: and put some clips together.And they form a sequence and thenthat sequence goes into another sequenceand pretty soon you've got a full movie.Just like write an article.So it's the same thing you know it's justhaving to convince people by teaching them and gettingthat first little step of make a movie.It's just a five minute movie.And that will be the first one.

  • 37:14

    WESLEY SHRUM [continued]: And that's - and then just like statistics, when you firsthave a course in statistics, some people say,I really hate this.I never want to do this again in my life.And other people go, Yeah this isyou can learn a lot by doing this I want to learn more.

Video Info

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Publication Year: 2017

Video Type:In Practice

Methods: Ethnography, Video research

Keywords: audiences; cocaine; drug trade; drug trade and trafficking; film; film festivals; film production; Hurricane Katrina; performance; performance art media; public engagement; reality TV; visual literacy ... Show More

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Professors Wesley Shrum and Greg Scott discuss and demonstrate the fundamentals of video ethnography. They bring the cameras into the middle of one of their own documentary productions and analyze the concepts of objectivity and academic legitimacy.

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Ethnographic Video: Filmmaking in Academia

Professors Wesley Shrum and Greg Scott discuss and demonstrate the fundamentals of video ethnography. They bring the cameras into the middle of one of their own documentary productions and analyze the concepts of objectivity and academic legitimacy.

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