April 6th, 2013 at 6:51 PM by Joonas Rokka

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.

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