December 3rd, 2015 by Joonas Rokka

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Doing films is necessarily teamwork and thus the best result comes when the team functions seamlessly, flexibly yet according to the plan (script + storyboard).
  3. Filming is all about being ready for the unexpected, facilitation of the potential for something interesting to emerge.
  4. Filmmaking is all about access. Therefore negotiating access to the studied phenomenon needs to be considered and planned as well.
  5. 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:

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April 6th, 2013 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.