I recently gave an interview on ‘Follow Me on Dead Media‘ film that was presented and awarded the judges’ choice award at the 2014 Association for Consumer Research conference (Baltimore, US). Since the interview was published in a Brazilian magazine (and available in a blog post by Mariela Castro here), I thought I might as well share some of the insights here in English.
Watch the film here:
(Some selected clips from the interview:)
1) Can you tell about your film/research and the approach taken?
My research focuses on a skateboarding scene based in Helsinki, Finland. It entails a diverse group of people in terms of their background but who are connected and share a keen and sincere interest in skateboarding. I would describe this scene as ‘alternative’ in the sense that, globally speaking, skateboarding has become part of mainstream mass culture and commercial markets already long time ago. The studied group of skateboarders therefore want to distance themselves from this mainstream tendency and instead look for alternative, more creative, and meaningful ways of being and enjoying skateboarding. I have followed this emerging group since March 2013, using interviews, participant observation, and by studying subcultural media – in other words, methods common to cultural studies. The study is still ongoing but I have already published some results in academic conferences.
2) What are the motivations of the studied young people to prefer analog over digital media?
This dialectic between the analog and digital media is what really interests me a lot. Previously, I have studied alternative scenes and genres in music and evidently the relation between analog vinyl records and digital music streaming is curious. I have been asking how can we explain the rising sales of vinyl records in an age when almost all music is easily accessible via sophisticated online technology. I first thought this might be a phenomenon specific to music only. However, I have now realized that it is not the case. For instance, we can also see a tendency of analog photographing and filmmaking coming back. My present study on skateboarding scene is another strong case in point. Instead of embracing social media such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, they adopted and were fascinated by the already abandoned, inefficient, and largely unused analog media such as “paper-scissors-and-glue” type zine magazines, typewriters, letters, VHS film, old-school cameras, and Instant lettering. I believe it has to do with the overload of digital and social media that is beginning to lose its charm. For example, so many ‘mediocre’ or poorly made skate films are being published online making it less and less interesting for the skateboarders to post something there. The analog media offers a particular, not too polished aesthetic that can be explored and used to create completely new meanings. I would say it is effectively a counter-reaction to the emergence of digital mass media.
3) Do you believe this phenomenon is typical of current days? Or have you noticed something similar in other periods of time, or generations?
I think the digital era is something unique from historical point of view considering it’s impact and character. So I don’t think we can find examples from the past quite like that. On the other hand, it is interesting that some media persist over time longer than others – for example, the case of radio, which is still popular even if it could have been replaced by more advanced media. On the other hand, what I find as a clear repeating pattern here – and well documented by prior research – is the way in which an idea, product, or medium becomes commercialized and brought to the masses and then gradually losing it’s charm, and thus eventually leading some group of people to look for inspiration elsewhere. I think this is now beginning to happen with regard to social media.
4) What impacts this might have on the economy or technology? Can we say this is already a consumption trend?
The turn to analog media is still quite a small-scale and marginal phenomenon. But the signs may eventually be seen. For example, in 2014, analog vinyl LP record sales has re-surged to reach million (pound) sales for the first time in 18 years. The sales has increased over five-fold in the last five years according to some statistics. This may be an example where many assumed analog to become an obsolete format and they were totally wrong.
5) What does this behaviour represent in terms of culture and social behaviour?
I feel that consumer culture is very fond of its past. The multitude of retro and vintage trends are good examples. People find comfort and warm memories linking with the past in a world that is increasingly focused on the future and moving forward at full speed. Yet, I would also like to emphasize that this “longing for the past” is probably not the only or at least to me very convincing explanation for the re-emergence of analog media. For example, some of the skateboarders I interviewed had absolutely no prior experience of the analog media they were now adopting. I mean, they had never tried a typewriter or even written a letter before in their lives. This leads to suggest that there is something fascinating in the aesthetic universe that the analog seems to offer – one which is perhaps more concrete, rugged, and unpolished. Something that is physically there and intensively felt. I can imagine such aesthetics to have resonance beyond this small example, in arts and other fields as well.
Also, I feel that it is a hasty conclusion to say that the analog would come back and replace the digital any time in the future. Rather we’re seeing a co-existence of various analog and digital media that can take up multiple forms and expressions.
Here’s a couple of other media hits for FMDM film:
Creating meaning in the abandoned by Non-use.org (2014-10-28)
Video: So lebendig sind die totgesagten Medienformen by W&V (2014-11-6)
The most recent Videography Workshop took place at Lund University, Sweden (2-3 December 2014), with a very very nice group of enthusiastic filmmakers. Next week we’re heading towards the mountains with new set at the University of Innsbruck. The boat is moving!
Find here some reflections from the participants in Lund, Marcus Klasson and Carys Egan-Wyer, who kindly wrote a detailed piece based on their workshop thoughts and first steps towards academic film production (here). Below is also something worth checking – their 2 min film titled “Strange” that was produced during the workshop. Well-crafted and filmed story in my view, especially considering the limited time we had. Looking forward to hearing more from these guys!
In the snow-covered Innsbruck, the agenda will be largely the same: together with around 10 participants we aim to cover a broad range of critical theoretical and ontological questions relating to what making research on video format means, and then get our hands dirty by planning, filming and editing two short films in just two days. These are, hopefully, the ingredients for many fruitful discussions on how to advance research on video media.
Will write some notes on how things go!
(Below some action pics from Lund…)
The ACR Film Festival hits off again in two weeks time with new exciting consumer research films.
Here’s a teaser for our latest contribution. Follow Me on Dead Media is a piece exploring the “turn to analog” as a particular countercultural movement addressing the ever digitalizing mediascape. The study is based on recent fieldwork in skateboarding scene in Helsinki.
See you in Baltimore!
Ps. The entire film will be posted here after the conference (24.-26.10.2014).
Can’t stop this! I had the pleasure of facilitating a two-day Videography Workshop a couple of weeks ago (something similar we organized at Rouen Business School last year). This time we gathered at the Delft University of Technology in Holland that proved to be a fantastic site for the event: the entire facility was well-versed for creative work with massive open working spaces, several “real” workshops with tools and machines, and everywhere around us students working on their product design sketches and projects – in fact, many of them were doing films right on the spot.
We had work planned for two days with a brilliant group of 15 aspiring videographers. The main objective was to consider how to embrace video media in our academic work. The program was loaded, as one might expect: we started off by analyzing various streams filmmaking – including documentary, ethnographic, experimental, artistic filmmaking – from their theoretical, stylistic and practical underpinnings and approaches, followed by a more hands-on part where we set out to test our filmmaking skills by producing short films, and by going through the different details in production phases of pre-production, shoot, and edit. As a result, we produced two short films (2-3 minutes each) in a matter of hours of highly effective and creative teamwork. The highlight was the screening of the films at the “film festival”.
Two stunning quality films from first-timers, I must say! To reflect a bit on what we did, our main filming task was to come up with a compelling audio-visual story that would address one of the key strategic areas of TUDelft – namely sustainability, health, behavioral change, or technological innovation. This proved a pretty challenging task taken that we did not have much time to go into these topics before starting. Yet, time and energy was won by applying state-of-the-art storyboarding methods in crafting the filmic stories, and appropriate division of responsibilities in terms of film production – in directing, scripting, shooting, sound recording, editing etc. As we progressed the action-packed two-day schedule, the groups proved that doing films is all about: TEAMWORK, PLANNING, CREATIVITY, and FOCUS. I believe these are the big secrets in getting some serious filming done.
Overall the workshop can be considered bon succès thanks to all participants, and especially to Prof Maria Sääksjärvi who made the workshop possible in the first place. Find enclosed some snaps from the action. Can’t wait for the next one!!
Just popping in to inform all who might be interested that a commentary by John Schouten and us was recently published in Journal of Business Research.
You’ll find the article here.
I hope the discussion on the underpinnings of video as a research approach will continue in lively fashion..!
This week I had the pleasure of participating and giving a talk at the 2013 EFMD conference on higher education challenges and solutions. The conference offered insightful talks by experts in the field and it was held at the Otto Beisheim School of Management, WHU Campus in Düsseldorf, Germany.
As one of the key themes of the conference was “Blended Learning” (i.e. using new online technologies, MOOCs etc.), video media was given a particular spotlight. I had the chance to present alongside with Jen Ross, MOOC specialist and Program Director from the University of Edinburgh, UK. Her presentation gave an interesting overview of what it takes to run massive open online courses, and she also pointed out toward the importance of using film. Find below my presentation.
Basically, my intention was to introduce new ways to think about the video medium in teaching. Thought it might be worthwhile to share.
This year’s Association for Consumer Research Conference Film Festival track is buzzing with interesting films. The trailers for thirteen consumer research films that were accepted will be screened Friday through Sunday (October 4 – 6, 2013), find details HERE.
Insidevideography.com blog has a particularly strong presence in ACR Chicago with three new film entries – two by Joel & collaborators from Aalto University and one by me with colleagues Baptiste and Alice from University of Rouen, France. However, the best news is that there are many new filmmakers – including some familiar faces from our Videography Workshop (something we held last March) – with really promising work. We’ll be attending most of the sessions and certainly write some notes. Can’t wait to see all of the films!
Find here our film trailers (and we’ll post the full films here soon too):
Consuming the contradiction (17 min) / Joel Hietanen, John Scouten & Iiro Vaniala
Entre-deux-mondes: The shaping of artistic projects in a local music scene (31 min) / Joonas Rokka, Baptiste Cléret & Alice Sohier
Entertained to excess: The contemporary practices of boredom (21 min) / Henri Myöhänen & Joel Hietanen
Just a little happy happenstance – contains amour-propre in all its silliness. Gear was neat, though.
(Hannu Uotila’s Invited Guest Contribution to Insidevideography Blog)
First when Joonas Rokka contacted me and explained that he’s planning a videography workshop in France and he wanted me to be in charge of the hands-on execution part of the workshop, I was extremely excited. When the workshop started to get its final form and length of 3 days, I realized that I might be totally screwed. The problem was following: How to go through and explain video production process and guide four groups in their productions just in 3 days? The area we needed to cover in such a short time was so extensive that people usually spend several years to get their degree from filmmaking and then their lives to rehearse. To tackle this problem, I decided to divide our mountain-size workload in three daily-based topics: 1) pre-production, 2) shoot, and 3) post-production.
DAY 1 (Pre-production) – Our super eager team of participants gathered in historically vivid Château of Rouen Business School. Participants were divided into four groups. Task for the day one was to define “research questions” and to create a production plan, including particles such as time table, script, call sheet, role division etc. Pre-production is commonly the most overlooked phase of the productions, but if done properly, it will save money, time and patience. At this time my biggest concern was, if the teams would understand the importance of this phase. However, if they wouldn’t, ‘the learning curve’ might be even steeper than expected. Why? Well, in video productions all the failures or ‘do nots’ in previous stages of the production will cause problems in following phases. After the day one, however, I was getting more and more confident that we might actually be able to reach the goal of the workshop in terms of team video productions.
DAY 2 (Shoot) – The next day was kicked off at the Château by explaining the technical side of film shooting. We also gave the teams two important rules that we wanted them to follow: 1) Do not shoot over 30 minutes of footage, and 2) Have fun! The teams were sent out to the field to shoot their videos according to their plans. There were two reasons to restrict the amount of the footage. Firstly, we wanted to underline the importance of the planning in the procedure, and secondly we wanted to make sure that the post-production phase would not be overloaded. In this workshop at least the second rule was respected :) At the end of the day we collected all filmed materials and made preparations for the final day.
DAY 3 (Post-production) – We started the day three by going through key features and functionalities of Final Cut Pro editing software – the program groups were going to use for crafting their 2-3 minute films. At this point all previous tasks and stages started to make sense; if the group noticed that they had exceeded the maximum amount of the footage, if they had focused on wrong issues, if they did not have enough b-roll, or if their production plan was too vague. For some of the groups this reality hit harder than others. After the last minute desperation and rush in editing – which is the standard in video production business – the whole workshop culminated in the viewing of the films. I can honestly say that it was a moment of pride. The quality of films exceeded what I was waiting for! When the official program was over and I was sipping Champagne in the historically surroundings at the Château after the screening of films, I was thinking, “We made history, indeed. The concept worked. Our first videography workshop was a success. Mission Impossible in the Château: Completed”.
If the core teachings of the workshop could be compressed in five, they would be:
1) Make a plan,
2) Work according to your plan
3) Don’t try to film everything (and don’t go crazy!)
4) There is never too much B-roll footage
5) Every once in a while, ask yourself: Why?
Two weeks ago 15 enthusiastic participants and three workshop co-organizers set out to explore, discuss and discover how video media could be employed by researchers. Our set up was a three-day intensive Videography Workshop featuring introductory lectures on key topics and approaches, fruitful discussions and, importantly, hands-on videography work covering the entire process of filmmaking (pre-production, production and post-production). We were lucky enough to occupy the Rouen Business School campus Château making the experience special in many ways. Find in the following some thoughts and insights from the workshop that – at least according to feedback from the participants – can be considered a good success.
First of all, the idea of this workshop was, on the one hand, to continue the series of inspiring and pioneering Video Ethnography workshops organized by Professors Russ Belk and Rob Kozinets some years back in connection to Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) conferences. On the other hand, the principal idea behind this event – perhaps distinguishing it from the previous ones – was to invite researchers together who already had at least some prior experience in video production or analysis, had questions about it, or had tried to shoot and edit film before, or who were looking for further advice in advancing their ongoing video projects. We wanted to cater for this group in particular by offering not only practical information about “how to do it” but also raise important questions about the practice of academic videography productions: Why should academics consider videographies as a means to produce, express and disseminate research? What is it good for? What does it mean to employ video media? What requirements, opportunities, limitations and approaches should be considered?
I wanted to invite two co-chairs for the event for a number of reasons. Joel Hietanen, my dear friend and co-author/filmmaker (not to mention co-writer of this blog), finished his Doctoral dissertation last summer on a fundamental topic to our workshop: “Videography in Consumer Culture Theory” – in short, a philosophical account on academic film productions (see link here). Joel’s task was thus to inspire, provoke, and stimulate discussion on a journey to philosophical trajectories in audiovisual research. His presentation excelled in that it introduced fundamental notions from Gilles Deleuze’s theorizing of cinema (see Joel’s posting on our workshop in this blog any day soon). The second co-chair I invited was Hannu Uotila, CEO of Rocketgang productions – a Helsinki-based video production company. Hannu’s role was to provide and facilitate a comprehensive account on the video production process from professional’s viewpoint (Hannu’s posting forthcoming in this blog soon too). Hannu’s experience in commercial video productinons – including ads, television programs, company films etc. – was essential in setting up the workshop learning experience. It is also worth mentioning that, just last week, Hannu was nominated to the list of “New Producers to Watch” by MIPTV event organized in Cannes, France (Hannu: We salute you! Congratulations!)
I tried to add my personal input somewhere between Joel and Hannu – between Deleuzian ephemera and hands-on concrete video productions – in attempting to position videography as a particular research approach and a useful tool for researchers and also to point our opportunities and challenges that videography may bring about. Among other things, I attempted to open up how traditions in documentary film theory, visual anthropology, experimental ethnography, and also artistic video projects may help us in charting and finding promising directions for videographers.
Finally, and most importantly, we left room for emergence and improvisation in that all the participants of the workshop engaged in filmmaking activity (in four teams). We planned, filmed, edited, produced and finalized four short films over the course of just two and half days! This videography challenge seemed impossible at first (see Hannu’s posting in this blog) but we were confident of success. All four groups finished their films in time and the screening of the films was certainly the climax of our workshop. Four amazing films of stunning quality! Great work from all the groups.
My own experience of organizing and pulling together the workshop was of course very special. Notably, it was absolutely great to receive such a perfect group of guests to my home school and city. In addition, I am astonished how many new ideas I/we got concerning both future videography productions and also the role of videography in the academia altogether. I am convinced we’re still taking some of the early steps in this regard! So let us continue… :)
Thanks everyone one more time! (and check out some photos from the action below..) We also wish to thank Rouen Business School research group Markets, Brands & Experiences for generous sponsorship.