My research develops affective filmmaking as a method of inquiry that supports young people to explore everyday understandings and experiences of gender in secondary school*. Affective filmmaking is designed to give expression to young people’s felt experience and tacit knowledge in an emergent process of thinking through making.
My aim was to explore how this feeling-making-thinking process might support the exploration of sensitive topics, such as gender, that may be difficult to articulate through words. I created a ten-part workshop design to run with senior secondary students in schools. These in-person workshops were conceived as emergent events to provide a framework for student exploration of felt understandings of gender, making from sensory and material qualities of experience.
When Covid-19 lockdowns prevented access to schools, I adapted and reduced the in-person workshop design for online delivery to trial with university students who were recent school leavers, and participants in Phase 2 of the Gender Matters project. Eleven students who had participated in focus group interviews with the Gender Matters team opted in to further explore school experiences of gender in the two three-hour online filmmaking workshops. Using a free online editing platform, the students made with existing footage – either their own or stock video and images available within the editing platform. To support experimental making with sensory and material qualities, I introduced an initial group activity in which the students tuned in to cinematic techniques for affective filmmaking that they could try out in their own making. Over the course of the workshops, the students made seventeen short video artefacts (eleven 1st draft and six 2nd draft videos). The use of stock footage delivered mixed results, however the tuning activity proved to be a valuable step in creating conditions for emergent making. It unsettled more familiar narrative driven approaches and freed students to try things out and iterate based on responses to their their own making in a cycle of making-reviewing-making. As a result, I finessed the tuning activity for the in-person workshop design.
In-person workshops were conducted at two senior college sites, with the ten sessions reconfigured as a two- and half-day intensive incursion. Four senior secondary students (two at each college) opted-in to the workshops after participating in focus group interviews with the Gender Matters team. I was finally able to try out my design for emergent affective filmmaking! Following the group tuning activity, the students set out to experiment with filming from sensory and material qualities of gendered experience in their school spaces with iPads in stabiliser grips. The iPads in grips, used for both filming and editing, became extensions of student bodies that afforded fluid movement and easy transition between filming and editing in iterative cycles of making-reviewing-making. Over the five days of workshops the students created multiple iterations of their short video artefacts.
Initial analysis of the student created video material and workshop recordings suggest that the affective filmmaking process opened feeling to thought through making. The workshops allowed students to explore and relay unique felt experience and becomings through their video making and sharing with peers and teachers at the end of the workshop. The process itself generated further conversation about gendered experience and sparked ideas between students that became entangled with their own making and thinking. It would be interesting to see how affective filmmaking could be adapted as an emergent arts-based method with a different participant group in a different context.
* This PhD research is attached to the Gender Matters: Changing Gender Equity Policies and Practices in Australian Secondary Schooling Australian Research Council Discovery grant (2019-2023) awarded to Susanne Gannon and Kerry Robinson with embedded PhD awarded to Prue Adams. PhD title: Affective filmmaking: An emergent making-thinking approach (method) to explore young people’s everyday experiences and understandings of gender in secondary schools
My thinking about filmmaking as an affective, emergent mode of inquiry to explore experiences of gender in secondary school with young people through doctoral research.