Towards a Scottish ‘folk cinema’
Chambers, James Michael
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
The thesis concerns a film which is in development and which may be subject to confidentiality clauses once it goes into production. I include a letter in support of the embargo from my supervisor Associate Professor Joe Kember: Dear Sir or Madam Jamie Chambers, a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter has requested that an extended embargo be placed upon all components of his thesis, including feature film and screenplay, until 1/8/2021. I fully support Jamie in this application, which is a vital safeguard for theses produced with creative components, such as this one. Best wishes Associate Professor Joe Kember Department of English University of Exeter
The following study explores the, as-yet largely unexplored question within film studies of a ‘folk cinema’ through research and two practical film projects: the finished dramatic feature Blackbird (2013), and the 4th draft of a script for a dramatic feature in development, False Faces (2016). Drawing from aspects of Scottish folk culture, both films explore different forms of what a rooted, Scotland-based ‘folk cinema’ could be. In addition, the creation of an annual film festival – the Folk Film Gathering – has created a forum in which some of the issues of an emergent folk cinema could be explored with audiences in Scotland. The question of a folk cinema grows increasingly pertinent both globally and locally, particularly within an European cultural landscape where the traditional arts are increasingly resurgent, and upon a global stage where the indigenous peoples movement has led to reevaluations of concepts of tradition, indigeneity and autochthony. My PhD by practice attempts to explore, both theoretically and practically, some of the possible implications of a folk cinema, interlinking local and global contexts. In doing so I have made particular use of aspects of cultural studies and anthropological theory, such as the writing of James Clifford, Faye Ginsburg and Jay Ruby, which I believe to be a relatively untapped critical resource for wider film studies. Whilst opening discussion attempts to consider the question of folk cinema globally, as an issue that may be pertinent for diverse filmmaking traditions in world cinema, my practical filmmaking work is firmly rooted within a contigent and highly-localised attempt to explore such questions within Scotland. In particular, I explore the practical implications of a cinematic pursuit of ‘ethnographic verisimilitude’, and the translation of oral forms into a filmic narrative, whilst questioning the validity of ‘folk cinema’ that arises from ‘etic’ viewpoints, outside a depicted community. Ultimately, consideration of my practical work explores how the theoretical ideals of an emergent folk cinema are negotiated in the more unruly, worldy domain of filmmaking practice and whether, ultimately, an autochthonous Scottish ‘folk cinema’ is possible.
PhD Film by Practice