Responses to film

From: K.A.G.Faulkner (kagf2@kent.ac.uk)
Sent: 26 March 2014 19:04:22
To: naomi webb (nommi4628@hotmail.com)
Hey Naomi

Thank you so much for sending the link to your film I really enjoyed it, it was emotional but more potently I thought you really captured how you felt in the world, now, through running. The idea that you are flowing with the world as you travel really resonated, I liked the movement. Also, the idea that the burn and the bitterness – which is part of the running experience – is needed in order to feel and to feel part of human experience.

Nice work..
Kerry X

From: H.Peeks (hp216@kent.ac.uk)
Sent: 25 March 2014 20:12:28
To: naomi webb (nommi4628@hotmail.com)
​Hi Naomi,
just watched it – loved the film – what wonderful and courageous people you and your mum are – definitely an A from Mike – guaranteed. The only think i didn’t catch was what you said right at the beginning which sounded like CBT? i didn’t understand what that was.

I will be in class tomorrow as Daniela will let me escape after i have done my presentation at 11.30 – see you in class.

I left a comment on your youtube
all the best,
Helen
ps. I really felt for both you and your mum over the challenges you both faced and probably still do.

FACEBOOK COMMENTS

Colin: Gasp! I will watch it when i get in front of a computer
22 March 20:08

wow naomi!! it’s so powerful! its great

what do you think about it?
22 March 22:01
Me: I actually really like it. I was really worried about how it would come across but as long as it seems like I am representing myself well in it I am happy ( its just imp. to me that I am doing the topic justice)

Colin: Well you certainly did do it justice! I’m also super impressed with the editing! Like REALLY impressed!

Gina: Wow its so raw and honest I love it

CBT counsellor.

Hi Naomi,

Just watched your lovely film. It’s really good to know you found it helpful. Keep up the hard work (and running!).

All the best.

Many thanks,

Mary Liptrot
CBT Therapist

Essay

    The current anthropology of mental health.

Inglehart’s (1997, p.31) discussion of how freedom of expression and political participation are becoming increasingly important, influencing the creation of this film to elaborate on my experience of mental health. Film is as Aina (2004) identifies “ [an]…important source of public information on mental health issues,”, a force of representation as seen in documentaries such as The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (2009, BBC) which has helped to spotlight mental health issues. Ahmed and Shore (2005) further indicate how anthropology needs to relate to contemporary problems and this implies the importance of addressing the impact of mental illness on people in contemporary society. This can be seen in organisations such as SAVE ( Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) in which the programme of LEADS, focusing on educating grades 9-12 about depression, how to seek help and recognise symptoms. Furthermore ADAP, Adolescent Depression Awareness Programme, advises and raises awareness about what depression is and how it can be reduced both in others and yourself. In schools this awareness makes recognition of depression easier, and therefore easier to address. As there is a need to represent and make anthropology more relatable, shown in the invention of auto-ethnography and looking inwards, this film acts as an autoethnography ( Reed-Danahay, 1997) . By addressing my experiences and creating a context of self, a sense of personal space, anthropology is being redefined not as the study of the other, but of the anthropologist’s own world; “ a means of engagement” ( Moore, 2011, p.11).

Feld (2003) describes acoustemology, the use of sound to create a sense of space , a knowledge and awareness that is essential to understand contemporary anthropology, which can be applied to this filmmaking process, in creating a personal and wider awareness of mental health. Ratcliffe ( 2012) identifies this need for awareness and support particularly concerning students, elaborating upon the impact of economic and social systems on depressive behaviours, this article identifies the need to create awareness concerning the need to represent mental health accurately and how mental health is constructed within different societies. Gentleman (2014) identifies how there is a current crisis in how mental health is addressed and this film, is in part, a way of broaching the gap between knowledge and help for mental health patients.

    A personal development.

The work of Jean Rouch, the involvement of anthropologists in filmmaking and performing on the screen, created a new anthropological space. The intimacy of this film, the potential intimacy of ethnography reflecting life experience is something that I wanted to mimic, as Taylor identifies “ reflecting on one’s life is an integral part of living it” ( MacDougall, 1998, p.5). I chose this topic, my experience of depression, because I felt it was both relevant to current social issues, and that in relation to Jean Rouch, is illustrative of society and contemporary issues. As seen in Chronique d-un ete (1961), in the discussions of race at the lunch table, I aimed to mimic this honest, unscripted discussion of everyday discussions concerning contemporary topics. This film arguably represents an honest account of everyday life for someone with depression, the art of the film illustrating and developing anthropology of mental illness as shown by Aina(2004) in Africa. As Moore discusses the “art of living” the abstract nature of life, the overlapping processes of thought and being in the world are important aspects that I wanted to mimic, getting the impression of my thoughts interacting with my everyday behaviour of running. Brown and Keller (1979, p.30) further identify how “ behind everything we say are the feelings we have about ourselves”, the mental makes up our reality and so to recreate this sense of mental rationality and experience I needed to involve myself completely, placing my thoughts within the social context of everyday, reducing the boundaries of subject-object ( Hart and Grimshaw, 1996). To challenge and resolve my experience of depression and suicide, I needed to address the issues itself and place it in a space that offered reflexivity ( Otto, 2013). It is a documentary of everyday life from one viewpoint, a perspective that offers insight into human life that is not distinct or culturally separate but relatable and adds to contemporary discourses. Sontag(1977, p.11) describes the enduring nature of film and photography, which arguably makes the impact of the visual upon anthropology, and society in general, all the more important, an engagement of self with the rest of human sociality;“ After the event has ended, the picture will still exist”. The film is both iconic and indexical which adds to the impact of the footage (Pinney, 1992); indexical as it represents the space I am within now, the current sociality, and iconic, as for me this footage is representative of me as I intend to be from now on, a documentation of my experience and depression, that is significant and, in a personal sense, timeless. The narrative account focuses on the movement from the past to my present reality, and it is this relativity of past and present that secures my experiences’ place in time and the development and adaptation of myself “ an ethnographic past can become the most vivid part of our present existence” ( Fabian, 1983, p.93). This narration, describing a development can be seen in the Gregory Giorgio track by Daft Punk (2013), in which the use of narration elaborates on Giorgio’s career journey. Narrative within the film will express my development as an individual from this point forward and describe the personal journey I have undergone in order to reach the space of reflexivity that I am within now.

    Techniques used within filmmaking.

Music and narrative play an integral role in the topic, not to carry the film but to help create a sense of place and presence; awareness ( Feld, 2003). As Brown and Keller support (1979, p.9) “ communication is symbolic interaction” , the use of voice and particular songs is a form of narrative, a dialogic journey. This dialogue creates a connection between the meaning of the footage to the audience. As Bassett (1996) discusses the use of EFM to get in touch with the foetus, this application of sound as a communicatory device can be interpreted in my film as a way of connecting illnesses with the audience, getting in touch with sensitive topics.; music offers insight to personal experience and develops the idea of my person in both psychological and physical sense of the audience’ acting as paint on a canvas. This is further explained using Kunreutuer(2006, p.329) “ voice I heard as a sign of emotional directness, authenticity and immediacy”. The voice is a form of empowerment and consciousness, not only of the narrator but of those who listen. Beyonce’s (2013) album track about feminism, featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , expresses how voice is an immediate form of protest, directly reaching the ear and the individual. This track elaborates on the empowering nature of voice, an empowerment that has been expressed in my film as a way of addressing a very sensitive and personal topic in order to create awareness in the audience.

The power that lies within the act of listening is explained using Schwartz (2003, p.487) “the ear is a particularly vulnerable organ of perception”; the ear a way of connecting deeper than sight. Though Bloch (2008, p.595) states that sight offers truth, as words could be lies, within this project sight would arguably create an uncomfortableness and visually distract the audience from the film’s message as using speech directs the film, and as depression is a mental reality, conveys this sense of mental exploration of the self, an internal articulation of problems “ Language enables humans to lie”; the voice inside my head. Therefore voice and music “ resonate” ( Wikan, 1992) deeper than footage of me speaking about mental illness; arguably an innovative way of communicating, however the limitations of voice “ language as a form of representation as at technology for describing and knowing the world, has its limitations” ( Moore, 2011, p.117), therefore I have involved montage to create a sense of what a personal experience of depression entails, from my viewpoint, the film is filmed in a style that directs the camera from my eye-line.

Montage does not directly drive the eye to an event, but I want the impression that footage is taken from my perspective, through an eye-line perspective and the use of voice over the footage to elaborate on the importance of an individual focal point; “ Reality is summed up in an army of casual fragments – an endlessly alluring, poignantly reductive way of dealing with the world” (Sontag, 1977, p.80). Montage creates a greater sense of reality, a multi-faceted dimension, moments of time experienced and involving. The film is a mix of a filmed present and narration, a colportage of “ moments of the past and the different…glued onto the experiences of the present” ( Seremetakis, 1993, p.7). The aim of the footage is to create a sense of self, a persons’ own experience of mental illness, using narrative to enhance the sense of mental reality and the development of a person over time. The layering of montage implies passage of time, offering different settings and insights. Whilst voice connects past to present, as sense of historicity of the self, elaborates on depression as a condition and the way it can be resolved in the ‘now’.

    Issues of filming.

The sensitivity of the topic makes it difficult to represent, both in the way I present my own experience and the fear of being judged, as well as concerning crossing the boundary between explanatory and the film becoming self-obsessed. Therefore to make sure the film is valid throughout, I focused heavily on using participant involvement, as Otto (2007) demonstrates in his film ‘Ngat is dead’, in which the involvement of the participants creates a more rounded, thicker description of the study. Involving audience participation means that the film can be critically analysed within production, which I repeatedly did; showing film to friends, family, my mother who was involved in the filming and by watching the film critically myself.

As Moore (1993, p.120) discusses the critique of being representative in the narrative voice “ [obscuring] authentic representation of ethnographic explanation”. The autoethnographic nature of the film arguably makes this film representative of my experience, the issue being just how valid I can make it, without getting lost in my involvement.

Sontag (1977, p.27 )“ The knowledge gained through still photographs will always be some kind of sentimentalism”, though Sontag is discussing photography this can still be applied to the film, as a need to make it evocative yet still relevant. The film aims to explore mental illness and represent a snapshot of what this experience entails, the autoethnographic account that offers truth, insight and experience of mental illness.
Film is way of identifying with contemporary problems, especially the issue of mental illness, therefore although discuss potentially uncomfortable topics, the sensitive nature makes the creation of the film about depression and suicide all the more important. The reflexive nature of voice and narration, a private discussion is significant not only for the audience but furthermore for my own development and battle with mental illness. This film is a process of healing and personal development; private efficacy.

    Bibliography.

Aina, O.F., 2004. Mental illness and cultural issues in West African films : Implications for orthodox psychiatric practice. Medical humanities, 30 , 23-26.
Bassett, K., 1996. Anthropology, clinical pathology and the electronic foetal monitor : lessons from the heart. Social Sciences Medical 42 (2), 281-292.
Beyonce, 2013. Beyonce. Columbia.
Bloch, M., 2008. Truth and sight : generalizing without universalizing. Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute.
Briggs, H., 2013. Depression :’Second biggest cause of disability’ in the world. Last accessed : 25/03/2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24818048
Brown, C.T., and Keller, P.W., 1979. Monologue to dialogue : an exploration of interpersonal communication. Prentice – Hall.
Daft Punk, 2013. Random Access Memories. Columbia.
Drury, I., 2014. British children facing ‘toxic’ stress: UK youngsters among the unhappiest in the world due to bullying, depression and online porn, says charity. Last accessed 25/03/2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2542400/Children-facing-toxic-stress-UK-young-people-unhappiest-world-bullying-depression-online-porn.html#ixzz2wxgXmwGn
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/09September/Pages/Treatment-of-child-depression-needs-improving.aspx
Fabian, J., 1983. Time and the other : how anthropology makes its object. Columbia: University of Columbia Press. pp.74-104.
Feld, S. 2003. A Rainforest Acoustemology. In : Bull, M., and Back, L., (eds). The Auditory Culture Reader .Oxford : Berg.
Gentleman, A., 2014. Inside the UK’s mental health crisis : ‘It is my view that people will die’. Last accessed : 25/03/2014. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/21/inside-uk-mental-health-crisis-people-will-die
Hart, K., and Grimshaw, A., 1996. The rise and fall of scientific ethnography. In : Ahmed, A., and Shore, C., The future of anthropology : it’s relevance to the contemporary world. . Athlone Press. pp.46-64.
Hastrup, K., 1992. ‘Anthropological visions: some notes on visual and textual authority’. In: P Crawford, P., and Turton, D. (eds) Film As Ethnography, Manchester UP. pp.8-­‐25
Inglehart, R., 1997. Modernization and postmodernization : cultural, economic, and political change in 43 societies. Princeton, N.J. ; Princeton University Press
Kunreuther, L., 2006. Technologies of the Voice : FM Radio, Telephone, and the Nepali Diaspora in Kathmandu. Cultural Anthropology, 21 (3), pp. 323-353.
MacDougall,D., 1998. Transcultural Cinema. Princeton University Press.
Moore, H.L., 2011. Still Life: Hopes, Desires and Satisfactions. London : Polity Press.
NHS choices, 2013. Awareness for mental wellbeing. Last accessed : 25/03/2014. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/mindfulness.aspx
Otto, T., Nielsen, C., and Dalsgaard, S., 2007. Ngat is Dead – Studying Mortuary Traditions. Denmark.
Otto, T., 2013. Ethnographic Film as Exchange, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 14 (2), pp.195-205.
Pinney, C., 1992. ‘The parallel histories of anthropology and photography’ In: Edwardes, E. (ed). Anthropology and Photography: 1860-­‐1920,Yale UP.
Ratcliffe, R., 2012.Who helps students with mental health problems? Last accessed : 25/03/2014. http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2012/apr/05/who-helps-students-with-mental-health-problems
Reed-Danahay, D., 1997. Autoethnography : Rewriting the self and the social. Oxford: Berg.
Rouch, J., 1961. Chronique d-un ete. France : Argos – Films.
Schwartz, B.N., 2003. Voices from the Federal Theatre. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press.
Seremetakis, C.N., 1973. The memory of the senses: Historical Perception, Commensal Exchange and Modernity. Visual Anthropology Review, 9 (2).
Sontag, S., 1977. On Photography. London : Allen Lane.
Wikan, U., 1992. Beyond the Words : The Power of Resonance. American Anthropologist. 19, pp.460-482.

Creative camera

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The images above are of the class presentation of symbolic/creative cameras, and our first discussions of our project and what taking an image or recording footage ‘means’ to us as individuals and anthropologists.

When making my creative camera I wanted to incorporate reflexive elements. I chose roses because of the rose tinted view of the world we can have, I was going with a type of poetic criticism of photography and the way we view the world.
I used mirror in squares, to give the impression that anthropology has fragmented my original ideas about the world as caused me to view sociality in a less structured, refracted process, reflecting off my own opinions of the world and off of others too. Also it was about looking in whilst looking out. I used images that mean something to me inside the camera, treating it like it is actually inside my own mind and memories which influence how I view the world ; what I think is important, symbolic, relevant to me as an individual ( I used images of Japan, me as a baby, pets, leaves my favourite time of year etc. I used Lucier’s I am sitting in a room speech to show how everything becomes white noise and is absorbed into the space surrounding us as people, whether its other people who absorb, nature, air , landscapes or buildings our thoughts and behaviour are internalised by something or someone else. I have also made a clay ‘person’ in relation to Lucier’s I am sitting in a room speech, with the idea that we are an identity within our own thoughts and perspectives; not a bodily representation but following along the lines of Descartes ‘I think therefore I am’ construct in which the person becomes a person because of their ability to think, which I understand as the ability to interpret the world around us and use these interpretations to create our own beliefs, ideas and identity.
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Class reflections

Watching my film in class I received so much feedback and its actually quite a relief to show everyone. There was the need to address what CBT is, ‘ cognitive behavioral therapy’ which is an important aspect of my recovery. But I am hoping that people , if they do not know what it is, will want to research it further and learn about depression and suicidal behavior on their own after seeing my film.
There was feedback asking for changes to be made slightly with the sound which I will do later and I need to go over my trailer, just to make sure that the sound is fitting where it needs to etc, this will be completed later on today.

Update : 9th April 2014.
I am going to be filming an additional piece this weekend to fit into the film, based on the critiques of my classmates, stating how it would be nice to see more of that relationship with my Mum. Therefore I will be making a two minute film about my Mum and I and work towards adding that little bit extra to my project.

Reflexivity

So I have completed my project now and am letting other people watch it so I thought I would take the opportunity to write a little bit about the film, why I left certain things in, why I don’t appear until the end of the film etc.

 I decided not to appear until the end of the film because I did not want the message to necessarily be focused only on me ; instead I wanted it to focus on my experience of depression but not simply me as an individual. I liked the fact that I was anonymous as I think that when you put a face to the act sometimes it can make it very awkward for the viewer, particularly when it concerns sensitive topics. I felt this especially with Chronique d’un ete, when one of the women is discussing her breakdown and although it is very interesting to watch, simultaneously it can be very uncomfortable to view because it is so personal.

I left in parts such as my boyfriend, Alex, telling me about which part  he was supposed to zoom in, because I wanted the viewer to experience how the film was created, the processes that I undertook to get the shots I wanted, and also use the zoom of the camera to demonstrate on the beginning of the film, introducing me as a character before I start to speak over the footage.

I used footage concerning my Mum speaking about my depression because I wanted to give the impression of the wider impact of depression on families and community, not simply something that affects you mentally, but which affects all the relationships that you had at the time of the illness and the relationships afterwards.

I used the song Just Like Honey by Jesus and Mary Chain at the end of the film, as it has always been an uplifting song, something that I associate with the end of Lost in Translation one of my favourite films, which sums up how we all make an impact on someone once and can build relationships in a short time that have a long term impact even if we never meet them again; I could only know you for the time that it takes you to watch my film, but I like to think it will have a lasting impact on you. This is what that song sums up for me. This is also why I chose to use the kanji ichigoichie – which means one chance, one meet, roughly translated in Japanese. I got this as a tattoo towards the end of my time in Japan, as its something that I live by; trying to make the most out of every meeting, every chance that comes my way.

 

 

Screenshots

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The first of these shots is a side view of me running, which emphasises the transformative aspect of this film upon myself and the idea of movement; a passage that I have undertaken in both the making and viewing of this film. Furthermore the side shot develops a sense of distance between myself the narrator and me the image on screen, allowing for reflexivity.

The second shot is of the beginning of the film, one of the only times that I appear on camera during the film, in a headshot. I used this image before narration because I wanted the audience to have an idea of the person talking about depression, without making the film uncomfortable or too much like ‘Talking Heads’.

The third shot is of a gopro shot that I used when driving back from Canterbury. I used a camcorder for the other shots but used a gopro on my head, emphasising that the film is being recorded from my perspective, both in a psychological and a physical sense. I liked the metaphor of it, the hitting of the cat’s eyes in the road acting as a kind of tempo, heartbeat, that is an undercurrent in the film.

The fourth screenshot is of the opening discussion with my Mum, and I wanted to show the difference between light and dark between these two screenshots to develop the concept of transition and passage throughout the film; moving from a dark space of difficulty and depression to one of revitalization and personal development. Furthermore this shot is a view of the youtube.com page that I uploaded my film to, partly to demonstrate the technical presentation of the film.