Filmmaking for fieldwork – Q&A with Andy Lawrence

Posted by Rebecca Mortimer - Monday, 3 Aug 2020


How would you like someone who has read your book to sum it up in one sentence?

Beautiful and useful.

What book in your field has inspired you the most?

I like Fifty-one days on Mount Abu by Francesco Clemente – each day is expressed through a painting by the author depicting a change in his perception triggered at this sacred site in India. I also appreciated Stranger in the Village of the Sick by Paul Stoller, for the way it uses the vulnerability of its author to look deeply into matters of anthropological enquiry.

Did your research take you to any unexpected places?

Filmmaking for fieldwork is a method to deal with the unexpected, so to some extent I have learnt to avoid expectations and find comfort in whatever comes along.

Which writing process do you use (computer, longhand, dictate, other)?

Two forefingers – I’m surprised they aren’t shorter.

Why did you choose to publish with MUP?

I approached MUP because it has published significant titles in my field. Senior editor, Tom Dark, gave me confidence that the process would be creative and collaborative, which it was.

What are you working on now?

A follow up to the handbook, tentatively entitled, ‘Empirical Art: Filmmaking for fieldwork across disciplines’. This reflects on a number of film projects that have been made using F4F methods including the film I am currently producing, which is a feature documentary about elves.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when starting out on this project, what would it be?

Don’t worry.

If you could have been the author of any book, what would it be and why?

Filmmaking for fieldwork, I’m happy with that.

What other genres do you enjoy reading?

Biography, especially music, nature and ecology, poetry, philosophy, nursery stories with my children and the news (although I’m trying to give that up)

10. Which authors (academic and not) would you invite to a dinner party?

John the Apostle
Maya Angelou
Vandana Shiva
Augustine of Hippo
Mary Magdalene
Leo Tolstoy
Luce Irigaray
James Baldwin
Hannah Arendt
Wangari Maathai






Filmmaking for fieldwork is available now and you can read a sample chapter here.

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



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