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Screen Education Edinburgh/Pilton Video - an investigation into four decades of grassroots filmmaking – documenting the rich history of a local audio-visual archive and promoting access for future use in the community.

   School of Arts and Creative Industries

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  Dr A Scott, Dr Robert Munro, Dr D Maclean  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is a practice-based funded PhD studentship to investigate the impact of a long-established Scottish community video project and develop new ways to tell its story and make it relevant to audiences today and in the future. The research will involve interviewing key contributors, filming new material, and drawing on the archive of productions made by this organisation over four decades.

Screen Education Edinburgh (previously Pilton Video) was set up in 1981 with the aim of using video as a tool for community development and to encourage local people to participate in filmmaking. The organisation now has an archive of over seven hundred and fifty short films reflecting a hidden heritage of community history. This research project will investigate the impact of this community media organisation and track how in recent years the focus has moved into film education, training, and personal development for young people.

The researcher will record new oral history interviews with people involved in the organisation as staff, volunteers and film makers. The aim is to tell the story of the project using these interviews and clips and identify how this archive can continue to be a resource in the community.

From the outset the themes covered by the organisation focused on housing, inequality, diversity, health and well-being, women, young people, and life-long learning. There was also a celebration of local culture with the recording of community events such as the local gala day and through oral history projects.

Research Question and methodology

How can the archive of film projects made by Screen Education Edinburgh (previously Pilton Video) be made relevant to and remain a resource for the local community?

Adopting a multi-method practice-based research approach the project will investigate the history of this community film project, create new interpretative material to contextualise the archive, and gather new oral history evidence through a series of semi-structured film interviews with past and present project workers, volunteers, film makers and community representatives. This ethnographic approach will, through both archival research and creative filmmaking practice, seek to generate new knowledge about how this community filmmaking organisation has captured the lived experiences of those who have contributed to its filmic output over the past forty years.

Academic qualifications

A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Film, television, media studies, or digital media with a good fundamental knowledge of documentary filmmaking

English language requirement

IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:

· Experience of fundamental documentary film making practice

· Competent in qualitative research methodologies including gathering evidence through semi-structured interviews and focus groups

· Knowledge of the evolution of creative project work within community development

· Good written and oral communication skills

· Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project

· Good time management

Desirable attributes:

Preferably the candidate will have some existing knowledge of community filmmaking in Scotland and experience of liaising with local grassroots organisations to develop and nurture participatory engagement in the research. Given the aim of documenting the history and development of a community-based media organisation we encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds and are also open to candidates with relevant professional experience in the cultural sector or industry at a level equivalent to a Master’s qualification

Funding Notes

Fully funded with UK fees and PhD stipend currently £15,609


Atton, C. (2015) The Routledge Companion to Alternative and Community Media, London, Routledge
Coyer, K. Dowmunt, T., Fountain, A. (2007) The Alternative Media Handbook, London, Routledge
Scott, A. (2017) Representing Scottish Communities on Screen, Chapter 4 in Malik, S., Chapain, C., Comunian, R. (Eds), Community Filmmaking: Diversity, Practices and Places (pp 60-76), London, Routledge
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