Filmmaking research is a form of practice research that enquires into production practices, techniques, modes and genres used in cinema, television and online. The outputs are films that may include fiction, documentary and hybrid forms. Filmmaking research pushes at the boundaries of traditional filmmaking and traditional research methods by adopting distinct approaches to professional and critical practices. This is in contrast to typical industry research where commercial pressures dominate. There have been spectacular success stories that demonstrate this potential such as the Academy award nominated ‘Act of Killing’, Oppenheimer, 2013.

Filmmaking research is a developing area and films produced within the academy are growing in number. In both the UK and Australia, this research has tended to reside in one of two disciplines, creative arts or media, communication and film studies. This has made it fragmented, sometimes difficult to identify and subject to different forms of support and engagement. Researchers come from a range of backgrounds, many moving from industry into academia seeking to reframe their work within Higher Education. As an evolving mode of research, filmmaking research is often attempting to satisfy multiple and competing academic purposes and agendas for example as interdisciplinary research collaborations, creative industry outreach or as impact.  The result is a field of research that is not well defined. Qualitative measures are often locally determined with few universal standards of best practice, there continues to be confusion over methodologies and a lack of expertise on research assessment panels and in peer review panels.

The purpose of the Filmmaking Research Network is to create an international forum for research and exchange between the UK and Australia that explores the methodologies and frameworks for filmmaking research. The network will ask;

What is needed to improve understanding and consolidate the field of filmmaking research?

How can filmmaking research be better defined?
How is filmmaking research measured and valued as a research output?
What research infrastructure is needed?

How can filmmaking research be better defined?

The field needs evidence to establish itself more coherently; to find out how much research is being undertaken and to isolate its particular characteristics as far as possible. The FRN will undertake qualitative research to confirm that filmmaking research is a developing mode of research and catalogue aspects of this research such as methodologies and genres of outputs. The FRN will design a survey, create a film register and curate a screening. 

How is filmmaking in the academy measured and valued as a research output?

REF and ERA both assess filmmaking outputs but as an evolving area there is often inconsistencies at institutional level. By comparing and contrasting criteria and using best practice case studies, (via the survey) we aim to improve understanding of the value of filmmaking research. From this, a tool kit will be designed aimed at providing clear guidance in layperson’s language on how filmmaking research meets research excellence criteria.

What research infrastructure is needed?  

In the area of practice research, there is a perceived lack of capacity for peer review, critical friends, PHD examination, research funding panels, professorial appointments etc. The FRN will explore what infrastructure is needed and develop targeted resources to address this. For example resource lists for practice in peer reviewers, PhD examiners and critical friends.