Endorsed by the Lifestyle Cluster, Transforming Markets & Changing Lifestyles Research Center, and Department of Markets & Innovation at EMLYON Business School, the first Lyon Videography Workshop took place at the Ecully campus as a two-day intensive research workshop that welcomed a group of researchers, Phd students and practitioners inspired of doing research on video media.
This was already the fifth Videography Workshop event I’ve had the chance to be part of organising. This time I invited Hannu Uotila as a co-organizer. He is a top European film producer and CEO of an audio-visually focused market research company (Sailer Ltd.) based in Finland. Combining our prior experience in academic and professional, commercial film production allowed an interesting setup for discussions and perspectives into what is currently emerging as a novel research practice.
We were a total of 13 participants, a highly international group representing 8 nationalities (France, Finland, Scotland, USA, Peru, Turkey, Morocco, Germany) and varying professional backgrounds. Notably, we had EMLYON marketing faculty (4), Phd students (3), external marketing professors (3), and external professionals (3). Only few participants had prior filmmaking experience.
The 2-day program was, as one could imagine, action-packed. We begun with important theoretical and ontological considerations about what doing research on video means and entails, drawing on assigned pre-readings and films. We then covered important videographic research streams, as well as modes and approaches to filmmaking (notably visual ethnography and documentary film). Thereafter, reflected on insights from prior videography projects and illuminated the process of filmmaking – including pre-production, production and post-production.
After the theory part we engaged into hands-on videography projects that were completed from inception to finish within 24h. Each participant had brought an idea about research-inspired short film that could be filmed and edited within the limits of time/space of the workshop. We collectively chose two topics that were then pursued in two teams, under supervision. We assigned appropriate roles for each team-member: director, producer, director of photography, script supervisor, and photographer/editor. Enacting these roles made it not only possible for us to complete our highly challenging filmmaking tasks but also taught various tasks and points of view necessary for building compelling filmic experiences. Both resulting films, 3 min each, were completed and finalised in time, and then screened at the workshop concluding “Film festival” where films and filmmaking experiences were further exchanged.
The learnings of the workshop were many. Here is a list of some of the evident ones:
- Doing films is a practice that requires careful planning and focus. Poor planning, on the other hand, results in unusable or missing footage and thus unfinished or poor films. This is why we spent time working on scripts and storyboarding (we really could have used even more time doing so!) before touching the cameras.
- Doing films is necessarily teamwork and thus the best result comes when the team functions seamlessly, flexibly yet according to the plan (script + storyboard).
- Filming is all about being ready for the unexpected, facilitation of the potential for something interesting to emerge.
- Filmmaking is all about access. Therefore negotiating access to the studied phenomenon needs to be considered and planned as well.
- Justification of all choices. Be it your story, camera angle, argument, talking heads, mood, background music, voiceover, transitions, b-reel footage – always ask: “why do I need this element for my film?”
After the official program we visited the Institut Lumière for an intriguing history lesson on filmmaking. This was important as the moving image has indeed been invented in Lyon!
Next up: the 2nd Lyon Videography Workshop will be organized as a 2,5 day event on 16-18 May 2016, just before the French Marketing Association conference (AFM). There are still some places available, so be quick to reserve. Apply by sending email to joonas.rokka(at)gmail.com
Some pics from the workshop:
My inspiration for video research was spurred by a few occurrences that took place in 2006-7. Firstly, I had just jumped on to my doctoral studies at the Helsinki School of Economics (currently known as Aalto University School of Economics) the previous year and was anxiously looking for new potential topics for my thesis work. I soon discovered that I needed to look outside of Finland to be able to find something interesting.
As it happened, I found myself first on an intensive course on Consumer Culture Theory (Odense, Denmark) headed by some of the most renowned figures in cultural consumer research, including Eric Arnould and Craig Thompson. The course instantly set the tone for my future work: I was caught to study the cultural aspects of consumption and consumer society from emerging approaches that stem largely from cultural anthropology and sociology.
Not long after, I took part in my first research congress: the 2nd Consumer Culture Theory Conference 2007 (at York University). This annual conference was organized for researchers employing qualitative, interpretive, ethnographic, videographic, netnographic and phenomenological approaches, in other words, in many ways emerging, if not completely novel approaches considering the dominant corpus of work within consumer and marketing research.
CCT conference was a success in many ways, not least because it also offered conjoined workshops designed for new students entering the field. I took part in the Video Ethnography Workshop, which was held for the third time. The purpose of this two-day workshop was to experience videographic research in a hands-on manner, guided by experts. After opening lectures on video-based research production, student teams were given camcorders and editing software as well as professional assistance for designing a small-scale video study in practice. By the end of the workshop we also presented our videos and received feedback.
During the assignment I ran into my future co-author, Kristine de Valck from HEC Paris. We conducted a video study in a local shopping mall interviewing and observing consumers about their personal styles. We got to experience some on-field action and stumbled upon a number of challenges typical for video research including 1) the difficulty of gaining access to people in such public environments and 2) the trouble of presenting camera in interview settings without scaring people away instantly. Despite of these, we managed to shoot some footage that we could edit and produce into a short film – my first videographic experiment.
The videography event was organized by Russell Belk and Robert Kozinets who have written several articles and book chapters about video research (see Belk and Kozinets 2005; Kozinets and Belk 2006). They have also founded the Association for Consumer Research Film Festival. Held annually in the North American ACR conference and in rotating years in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, the film festival has spawned considerable interest among consumer researchers now for over 9 years.
As soon as the workshop was behind, I began to ponder how video research could work out for me. What is it good for? What makes it so compelling? Why hasn’t it been used previously? What new avenues could be opened up? Soon Kristine asked, if I could join her in Paris and to come up with a brand new video project. I knew this would be the perfect chance, so I was in…
Belk, R.W. & Kozinets, R.V. (2005) Videography in Marketing and Consumer Research. Qualitative Market Research, 8, 128-141.
Kozinets, R.V. & Belk, R.W. (2006). Camcorder Society: Quality Videography in Consumer and Marketing Research. In Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing, R.W. Belk (ed), Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.