Here it is, our finished film about what it means to be British. Initially our intention was to find out about British national identity and what ideas people identified with the term ‘British’. During the course of making this film I encountered a huge amount of tension between nationalists and immigrants and many misinterpretations about what it means to be British and who can and cant have the right to live in this country. The film that we made has addressed these issues and I feel in some way points towards a new acceptance by the British of other cultures. It suggests that people have an understanding of geo political, ethical and racial issues and tensions far beyond what stereotyping would suggest. Negative stereotypes about the white British public and about ethnic minorities in Britain have created tensions since the 1950s. In the post imperial and post colonial times in which we live it is important to inform ourselves of not only the facts concerning tensions and conflict but also to see how individual subjects perceive these conflicts.
I feel that in the process of making the film we have addressed issues that we did not initially intend to, ones that arose as a result of research and as a reflection of the experiences we had whilst filming.
After the complications of editing the film, we are finally happy with it, the process has been really enjoyable and an interesting learning curve. Despite this it is very difficult to zoom out, as it were, and dissasociate your subjective input from the end product. On this basis we can keep picking new holes in what we have done forever, so I look forward to feedback from the rest of the visual anthropology students and teachers because it will allow us to be more reflexive and learn about our own work in a fresh and different perspective.
Before we started filming, I read Michael Rabigers’ book Directing The Documentary. For me the third chapter entitled Elements of the Documentary really stood out. It has been constantly useful to me when making our short film, and I keep reffering back to the exercises in the editing stage. I have been particularly interested in what he calls the ‘documentary modalities’ he describes four of these, and of them we have been following a mixture of Record, reveal, or preserve and Express.
Reffering to written anthropological work on the area of making documentary films as well as looking at others films and media with similar topics to our own has been really useful in ensuring that we make an engaging film.
So… we have started to edit our footage over the last few days, one thing that i have noticed that may be problematic is that throughout our footage many of the different subjects say very similar things or even paraphrase each other. This is problematic in terms of making the film flow and be engaging and not too repetitive.
However in terms of our intentions and aims when setting out to make this film it is really great, because initially we wanted to find out what contemporary British citizens opinions of their national identity were. We have managed to achieve this through doing it discovered that rather than an archaic sense of British national and cultural identity there is a strong desire to engage with all cultures. Expecting something negative and potentially confrontational we found a positive and forward thinking cultural identity emerging.
As an anthropologist this is hugely rewarding and interesting because we have ample material to analyse, but also as a British citizen and a human being it is heart warming to see such positivity in the attitudes my own community.
At this point we are still unsure whether we should include ourselves in the documentary or not. We have debated this, because in much of our footage we are asking questions and interacting with our subjects, it might seem like we are removed from the process if we do not include ourselves, however if we do then we might intrude on the focus, which should be on the subjects and not us.
This is a really interesting short film made by a friend of mine, it follows one man and talks about the multicultural nature of Peckham, found this relevant because it is a short film with a similar topic to my own, and so it was interesting to look at the use of narrative and visual technique.
This is a link to an article by Paul Gilroy called ‘British Cultural Studies and the Pitfalls of Identity’ it appears in the book Black British Cultural Studies: A Reader by Houston A. Baker, Manthia Diawara.
It is about imperialism and post colonial attitudes, we are expecting to encounter a lot of opinion about these topics when we talk to people as they are an integral part of the modern British identity.
This add kept popping up on youtube so I succumbed and watched it. It really intrigued me how it is an example of the popular media using the idea of national identity to sell a product. It uses the ideas of British stereo types as well as more contemporary multicultural practices. For me it really emphasized how the British perceive themselves, because i feel that if you look at popular media you can use it as a useful tool for the analysis of its target demographics perceived identity and ideology.