School of Global Studies

Ethnographic Film in a Digital Age

A short winter school

2019 course dates
Monday January 28th - Friday Feb 1st 2019

Course Venue

Monday 28th & Tuesday 29th January
Venue: AH103 (Ashdown House)
Time: 9.00 - 5.30

Wednesday 30th January (individual or pair filming of portraits)

Thursday 31st January & Friday 1st February
Venue: AHG4 (Ashdown House ground floor computer room)
Time: 9.00 - 5.30

The department of Anthropology invites you to participate in an intensive five day day winter school taught by award-winning ethnographic filmmaker Karen Boswall.  This course is designed to provide you with the technical and conceptual tools for producing your own ethnographic films using readily available digital audio-visual technology.

Subjects covered will include:

  • Ethnographic FilmUnderstanding the implications of using moving image as part of ethnographic research
    xplore the creative, conceptual & ethical considerations of incorporating moving image sound into your fieldwork.

  • Making technological choices
    Become aware of the possibilities and limitations of employing the capabilities of available audio visual digital technology (phones, tablets, stills cameras and camcorders & software).

  • Developing practical shooting skills
    Learn how to work with light and sound; framing, exposure, camera movement while remaining engaged with your subject and research environment.

  • Applying practical recording skills
    Learn how best to record an interview and film activities with good sound and most useful and relevant content.

  • Planning and shooting your own short ethnographic video portrait
    Experience some of the challenges of planning and shooting a short film through practise.

  • Learning practical Editing Skills
    Learn how to make available editing software work for you. Software interfaces demystified and approaches to editing explored.

  • Sharing and incorporating recorded and edited audio-visual material
    Learn how to attach, upload or integrate moving image into presentations and on-line publications.

Ethnographic Film Ethnographic Film

Ethnographic Film

This course is designed to equip participants with the skills and understanding to best make use of the digital technology they already have available to them.  To participate you will be required to bring some form of audio visual recording device. This could be your mobile phone or tablet, a digital stills camera with the capacity to record moving image and sound, (DSLR or ‘point and press), or a digital camcorder. Editing will be taught on university desktop computers, or, should you prefer, your own laptop (Mac or PC). Please indicate the equipment you will be bringing in your application form.


All post graduate students, post-doc researchers and staff in the Anthropology department are eligible to register for EFDA 2019.  This is a very popular course and due to the limited number of places it is important that all those who register attend the entire course. A newly instated deposit system of £50 is designed to ensure the full twelve places will be taken up and there will be no empty places due to no-shows or last-minute cancellations. The deposit (made payable in cash to Susan Chater, C168) will be refunded upon full attendance of the course or upon cancellation of attendance before January 7th 2019. There will be a stand-by list so, should anyone have to drop out, their place can be filled.  

Course participants will need to ensure they are available to attend between 9.00 and 5.30 on the Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of the course and 9.00 to 20.30 on the last day (Friday Feb 1st) to end on a celebratory screening and evaluation for colleagues friends and family at 18.30. This is a popular element on the course and we hope you can keep that evening free to celebrate all you have learned and achieved over the week. The third day of the course (Wednesday 30th January) is set aside for individual shooting so the timing of this day is more dependent on the availability of those you are filming.

Films made by previous EFDA participants

Feedback from previous courses

“I learnt an enormous amount in a short space of time - in fact I went from zero knowledge to feeling I had a sense of what I was doing. Karen was really very impressive the way she got so much out of all of us”.

“This was an excellent course. It covered an enormous amount of material in a very short period of time. The instructor was extremely knowledgeable and capable in conveying this knowledge efficiently and in an engaging way”.

“I just loved this workshop! Everything was amazing”.

“Without any doubts, this was the best course I have ever attended at Sussex”.

“The most useful was the practice. We got to practice immediately everything we learned in theory.”

“I was amazed, how much one can learn (and especially apply) in only one week. We created our very first ethnographic films, and I loved the process and the outcomes.”

“It was an intensive week, we often worked on our projects till night, and yet we enjoyed it”.

"Karen was an excellent tutor."

Ethnographic Film

“Filming adds completely different dimension to the ethnographic research, and I believe it is extremely useful for an anthropologist to be familiar with the methods. I would definitely recommend the course to other students”.  LENKA ZAHRADKOVA  PhD in Anthropology

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course and it has given me a lot more confidence to use ethnographic film as a research method in my Phd next year.”

“I really enjoyed this course and think it is amazing that Sussex offers this to students for free. Karen was a fantastic instructor - very encouraging, approachable and an inspiring to have met.”
OLIVER SHAW  MA Anthropology

“The course was well-structured with a useful review of the history of ethnographic film making at the onset. Karen was a highly knowledgeable, patient and personable instructor. I can't recommend her highly enough”. MANINI SHEKER PhD Anthropology

“The practical side of the course was extremely useful, especially working in pairs to help each other, give advice and bond as a group.”

“I find it really useful to learn through doing, so I enjoyed having a bit of theory, followed by putting it into practice. It was also great to have a whole day for filming so that I could try a few different ideas without worrying about time pressure”.

“I really enjoyed watching each other’s films at the end. They were all so different and everyone had really taken on board the different shots, angles that we had learnt about and used them so effectively. It was nice to see the different styles and topics people produced films about in such a short space of time.”

“I think it was great that we were expected to make our own film which were screened at the end of the course - I think we were all impressed with what we had managed to produce in a few days.”

"Learning practical filming and editing techniques was really valuable, as I had no experience with film before. It left me feeling motivated to make my own films."

“Karen was fantastic. Really friendly, approachable and it was very inspiring to hear about all her experiences and watch some examples of her work.”


There are limited places on the course, please complete the application form. You will receive confirmation of your attendance and links to course materials by email. Click to Apply: