Accepted paper:

No Cameras Please! An analysis of Documentary film shoot permissions.

Author:

Nivedita Ghosh (University of Delhi)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that use of the camera has the potential to highlight the dominant norms of the social world within which the filmmaker finds herself. The non-fiction film shooting becomes yet another social space where norms and values such as those of gender and class etc. play out.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is based on an ongoing study of Documentary film shootings carried out to outline the complex nature of social realities, which guide the practice of non-fiction research based filmmaking. It is argued here that during the 'shooting' process, a camera is hardly a tool that can be unilaterally used in just about any social scenario. A deeper analysis reveals that the presence and use of the camera has the potential to highlight the dominant norms of the social world in which the filmmaker finds herself. Significantly, these are the norms of gender, class, caste, religion and similar values held by the community being researched. Accordingly, some sites, some people, some interviews, some topics etc. become more or less recordable than others, thereby requiring special permissions and often their denials. The non-fiction film shooting therefore becomes yet another social space where these norms play out. This paper thus presents an analysis of two documentary film shootings held in Delhi and Gujarat, looking at how filmmakers, at different stages of filmmaking filmed and sought permissions for their respective films. It incorporates the moments of denials, limited permissions and the negotiations by the respondents to evade the requests and questions of the filmmakers. A central argument, which emerges from this analysis, is that the personal decision of a respondent to participate in video based research or film is often tied to the communal norms and network of relationships within which the respondents find themselves.

panel V01
Visual encounters: audiovisual approaches to anthropological knowledge