Film as Research


A film-maker can be invited into a community and help them make their film. This film may have different purposes - promotion, creating awareness, persuading funders and of course the actual discovery and gathering of data.

A film can help people find a voice they didn't know they had - or handled without care, prevent this emerging esteem.

So projects need organising with considered methodologies to make the most of the opportunities whilst safeguarding those involved. For dissemination and discussion, these approaches must be transparent in documentary and fiction.

The film-maker should be aiming to show this open, purposive approach in every frame and utterance you capture.

"Every film is a documentary of its actors"
Jean-Luc Godard

Film as Research

What is a PhD?

A Doctor of Philosophy is an award for original research rather than learning.

"Because it is an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a dissertation, and defend their work before a panel of other experts in the field."  Wikipedia

This is something I bear in mind when I look at the PhDs on UFO programs and other woo-woo subjects. And I love UFOs! A doctorate is about pushing all the boundaries in all the subjects... but is not necessarily a learned position. It is however a status of approach - a marvellous approach and result.

There is a literature search - referenced up-to-date thinking in that field. This means we can read the dissertation - 70,000+ words with some assurance that this is factual and we can explore any point further. There is the methodology - a defence of your approach to the experimentation or discovery journey.  And a verbal exam - the viva - where peers who know what they and you are on about, guard the PhD entrance fiercely.

This means your writing must become of a certain standard - not flowery but to the point, not emotional but clear, not stylised as such - yet also have a strong sense of cohesion.

The writing on this website is not that style - I am still learning that elsewhere.  I also believe in the potential of film and/or art for researching humanity and that it may be superior to the constraints of academia.  A large constraint being ethics... my therapy & artist ethics are both more flexible and more rigorous.

However, the methodology of peer-reviewed science is superb - producing free and evolving knowledge. And I am looking forward to its progress - humanity's progress - into the realms of neurology and neurophilosophy.

So how can we let film enhance this successful approach? 

Film as Research

“A Study of Eye Accessing Cues and other Cognitive Eye Movements in Cinema - with the Development of a Production Toolset Enabling Performers’ EACs & CEMs to Enhance the Fictional Mind" 

In cinema it is quite usual for performers to stare at each other whilst in conversation. This stillness helps editors and directors to choose the in and out points of the shot when editing. Actors whose eyes move about more naturally are likely to be less useful for film-makers.

In everyday communication and thinking people tend to move eyes to assist their own thoughts as well as communicate the nature of their thinking to other people. Eye-roll, side-eye and a dreamy de-focus are well-known examples of this.  

This study is using the neuro-linguistic model of Eye Accessing Cues (EAC) used in therapy and combining these with previously unidentified Cognitive Eye Movements (CEMs) discovered whilst observing films.

The potential is that the fictional mind can be presented with more authenticity and accuracy. This may be supporting the narrative and adding detail to the characters' behaviour but also offer a deeper sense of communication and connection with cinema audiences.

Previous studies have focussed on the eye expression through facial movement or looked at blinking - another aspect of everyday naturalism often avoided by screen acting.  This study posits that it is the movement of the eyes which generates the meaning, the aid to cognition and can be used by performers to present an accurate fictional mind.

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