NEW WEEKEND COURSE Digital Video Production for Visual Anthropologists

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Digital Video Production for Visual Anthropologists and Researchers

About the course

Short, Sharp, Affordable. This is a practical hands-on weekend course aimed at visual anthropologists who want a fast way to acquire detailed and concise digital video filming skills.

There is an emphasis on bringing together the theory and practice of visual anthropological film making:

  • What is Visual Anthropology?
  • Positives and Negatives of using Film in Social Research (includes ethics)
  • Types of Visual Research Methods
  • Editing
  • Working in the Field


The short, condensed and effective course will give all participants a solid foundation of practical knowledge and a working understanding of digital cameras, sound recording, interview techniques, filming on location and industry language.

You will also get the confidence to use a wide range of equipment and learn the “future proof” principles of film making that remain constant despite the changes in technology and formats.

We allow a maximum of three people per camera set up (camera, sound, interviewer), giving everyone extensive hands-on experience.

What you will learn

– Preparing a shoot
– How to use a digital camera (focus, white balance, aperture, formats etc.)
– How to use microphones
– Framing, types of shots, camera movements, cutaways and other techniques and tips
– How to conduct and shoot an interview
– Shooting on location
– The principles of lighting, both natural and artificial
– Filming to edit
– Legal issues, permissions and copyrights


About the tutors

Mark Saunders is an award-winning independent film-maker, media activist and writer. His expertise in the field spans over two decades.

He is currently running Spectacle Productions, a company which he founded in 1990. Clients include Amnesty International, Channel 4, the Rowntree Foundation, the Howard League for Penal Reform and many others.

His films have been broadcast internationally and exhibited at galleries, including Tate Britain, the National Film Theatre, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Musee des Beaux-Arts,  the National Media Museum and the Photographers Gallery.

Alongside production work, Mark has also been teaching for over 15 years, and he has been a visiting lecturer at a number of institutions, including London School of Economics, the Royal College of Art, the London College of Communications, Bournemouth, Florence and Coventry Universities. He is currently teaching at Birkbeck College.
Chloe Evans has written for several social science and Anthropology journals, predominantly on her work based on the Philippine Diaspora. She has also contributed photography and video materials to several University projects. Chloe Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology from the L.S.E and a MSc in Visual Anthropology from the University of Oxford.

Spectacle is a member of the Moving Image Training Alliance (MITA).

The details


No. 25
99 – 109 Lavender Hill
London SW11 5QL


£200.00 + VAT = £240
Concs.: £100.00 + VAT = £120


Special Discounts

Group bookings
– Bookings for three to five people: 10% discount
– Bookings for six people or more: 20% discount

Multiple bookings
You will receive a 15% discount if you book a place on our Final Cut Pro editing course (dates to be announced).

How to book

Please visit the How to Book page to reserve a place on this workshop.

Also, please ensure you read our Terms and Conditions before reserving a place on one of Spectacle’s training courses.

If you have any queries please contact


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The Relationship Between Visual Anthropology and Documentary Film

Anthropology (the study of cross-cultural human sociality) has only been made possible with the expansion of transport and communication links that allowed the first Anthropologists to research and study other cultures. As a result of this, Anthropology is a relatively young subject, being first taught in the late eighteenth century. The subject developed during a time of industrial and technological expansion that some Anthropologists embraced. Some of the early ethnographers such as Evans-Pritchard used photography to illustrate and enrich their work. Since the cost and access to film has become more available an increasing number of Anthropologists have begun to utilise film in their research which has created an off shoot of Visual Anthropology.

The use of film in social research raises ethical and theoretical issues such as the power relations between the filmmaker and the participants, more specifically if the camera is an instrument of surveillance. Does the filmmaker have the right to videotape indigenous communities? Issues of misrepresentation of certain communities could unintentionally cause harm. There are problems of translating anthropological abstract concepts, such as kinship onto film. Many Anthropologists dismiss the use of film in their work as it raises too many epistemological problems for them. However, these concerns can be reduced if ethnographers follow certain guidelines when producing films. Anthropologists can use a framework that some documentary filmmakers follow.

Documentary filmmakers such as Spectacle Productions ascribe to ethical guidelines that aim to respect the subjects in the film. This means to be responsive and respectful of what people want and do not want filmed as well as working collaboratively from a grassroots stance point to give the participants a voice as well as representing the film’s subject’s in a way they want to be presented.

The issue of power relations with filmmaker and participants can be solved through participatory and collaborative film making. Filmmaker and participants make decisions together on what they shoot, the access allowed and the content filmed. Another approach is to give the participants being filmed the cameras which is a form of community video. Many indigenous communities, especially those in the Amazon have utilised film for land rights activism or to promote their cultures to a wider audience.

Misrepresentation as a potential problem can be solved again with participation from the communities by having a pre-screening of the film with a representative with the community being filmed. If this is not possible due to distances or other obstacles another way is to speak with the participants during the filming explaining and demonstrating transparently what your aim of the film is.

 On a theoretical note, while to film the abstract notion of ‘culture’ is beyond difficult one can film the material and visual world that can convey aspects of ‘culture’. Filming events such as religious rites, celebrations and every day life help to build a picture that conveys lived-in cultural experience.

The idea of creating a totally unbiased and objective ethnographic film is problematic as it will always be framed by the filmmakers prejudices, as with any ethnographic write-up. One cannot escape this fact, therefore the best way forward is to realise these limitations and to go forward to create the film.

The benefits of including ethnographic films can significantly add depth to social research. Anthropology can use film to showcase elements of culture hat are sometimes overlooked, for example nuances in speech and movements that are not always written about in ethnographic monographs. Film can be utilised in a variety of ways: as reference material for write-ups, examples or illustrations of particular concepts, as well as bringing ethnographic data together in a tangible and understandable format that can be understood by a wider audience.

Anthropologists and social researchers wishing to make ethnographic films can look to Documentary Film as a model to answer some ethical and aesthetic problems that the film format raises.

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