Filmmaking for fieldwork

A practical handbook

By Andy Lawrence

Filmmaking for fieldwork


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3155-3
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published Date: July 2020
  • BIC Category: Film and Media, Documentary films, RELIGION / Christian Theology / Anthropology, Society & social sciences / Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography, Society & social sciences / Anthropology, Film Production: Technical & Background Skills, The arts / Documentary films, PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / Direction & Production, PERFORMING ARTS / Film / Genres / Documentary


Designed for researchers seeking new ways to explore their field and media professionals aiming to extend their practice, this filmmaking handbook shows you how to plug in to issues at the intersection of documentary cinema and ethnography. Exploring the unique potential for filmmaking to describe lifeworlds and the role of video editing in generating new ideas about human experience, it offers practical and theoretical advice for those making their first films.

Based on over twenty years of teaching and industry experience, Filmmaking for fieldwork aims to inspire the development of core skills in camera use, sound recording and editing that can be applied to sensory, observational, participatory, reflexive and immersive modes of storytelling. Written for a multi-disciplinary audience, this book covers all stages necessary to produce a documentary film, from conception through to preparation, production, editing and distribution.


'Through Lawrence's articulate and comprehensive presentation, Filmmaking for Fieldwork is a sophisticated handbook that underscores the purpose, power, and techniques of ethnographic film - a timely and important contribution to visual anthropology and documentary film.'
Paul Stoller, author of Adventures in Blogging: Public Anthropology and Popular Media

'Ethnographic documentary is long overdue for a contemporary guide to the field that takes into account the changes since the 1997 publication of Cross-Cultural Filmmaking by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilise Barbash. This thoughtful and beautifully produced book provides a comprehensive overview that is both philosophical and practical, addressing questions that range from ethics and collaboration to shooting in field settings to digital technology, to foundational questions about the value of such work. The author is a talented and accomplished anthropologist and filmmaker, who even provides the ten commandments (for observational film!) to inspire ethnographic filmmakers - whether aspiring or accomplished - to reach the promised land of field-based documentary work, from pre-production to distribution.'
Faye Ginsburg, David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology, Director, Graduate Program in Culture & Media


Section 1: Why make a documentary film?

Section 2: Preparation
Writing a film proposal
Selecting equipment
Establishing control

Section 3: Recording
Fieldwork relationships
Operating in key situations

Section 4: Editing
Preparation for an edit
Designing your film
Beginning an edit
Rough cutting to find a story
Technique and style
Titles and credits
Fine cutting
Editing and mixing sound

Section 5: Distribution
Sharing your work
Writing about your work
Film festivals and screening events

Afterword: The journey continues



Andy Lawrence is a filmmaker and Senior Lecturer in Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester

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