For Shore: How We See the Sea, Invisible Dust commissioned new work by the filmmakers Ed Webb-Ingall and Margaret Salmon exploring coastal and island communities’ responses to the Scottish Marine Protected Areas.
'I walk there every day but I never saw it that way' by Ed Webb-Ingall
23 mins / Digital video / Scotland / 2018
In 1967, on the small island of Fogo, located off the North-East Coast of Newfoundland, the documentary filmmaker Colin Low initiated what became known as the ‘Fogo Process’. What was once a thriving fishing community had become largely reliant on state welfare, the methods for fishing had become antiquated and mis-management and a lack of organisation had worsened their situation. With a number of inhabitants, and with the support of the National Film Board of Canada, Low set about producing a number of films, with the aim of developing solidarity among seemingly disparate islanders and to encourage the cross-island conversations.
Fifty years since this process was first developed I am interested in how it might function in areas affected by the development and implementation of Marine Protected Areas. Drawing on my previous experience of community video making and the techniques used in the ‘Fogo Process’ it is my aim is to use similar techniques to produce a video project that seeks to understand the role and impact of Marine Protected Areas for those people who live near them and work with them. Unlike the Fogo Process, it is not my intention to ‘solve problems’ or reproduce didactic and authoritarian conversations, instead I will focus on the everyday, the historical and the personal to draw out a cross community conversation.
I will start the project by screening a number of relevant films produced during the Fogo Process to different, self-selected groups. Collectively watching archival films with a familiar content will trigger discussions about what has changed and what has stayed the same. The outcome of these conversations will form the basis of a number of workshops that use the process of collectively producing a video to share individual experiences and stories relating to the ocean.
The camera will function as a means to draw out conversations and ask questions across and between different communities and individuals. My intention is to understand the various relationships that exist between different people making use of, and living with, the sea and to ask such questions as ‘Who does the sea belong to?‘, ‘How do you use the sea?’ and ‘How do you protect the sea?’ The Fogo Process will provide a structure to do this with the participants, and then develop ways to share and build on our findings. This will involve initiating a series of interconnected conversations between people living and working in different geographical areas and professions. The footage that is recorded and collected in one community will be shown to other communities. Their responses will then be recorded and edited together and screened to the previous communities.
I am conscious of my position as an outsider and my proposal will be structured in order that my intentions and role are made as transparent as possible. The project I propose will appeal to participants at a number of different levels, for example learning new skills, spending time with others, making a video, learning about the local environment, providing a creative outlet and having your voice heard. My interest will be placed alongside those of the participants and will not outweigh them; instead we will work together to develop a project that will hopefully be of benefit to all who participate. I will run a series of workshops for different groups in order to address the aims and question above. Because of the way I work, my project will be iterative and involve a number of stages, the result of one stage impacting and shaping the following stage, and so on. The workshops will be a form of research for me. The participants will inform the outcome or impact according to the intentions and make up of the group. Each stage will involve the use of video equipment, although the production of a video will not necessarily make up the focus of the workshop. I will edit the footage recorded at each workshop into one video, with guidance from the participants. This will then be screened publicly in order to develop the project further.
I propose carrying out a series of research trips to Arran in order to initiate a series of open ended discussions and workshops with local people including an archivist, a geologist, conservationists, youth groups, divers, writers, bakers and business owners. Following this, I will invite them all to participate in a series of exercises, to collectively ask questions and record footage together. One element of this process would be to collect questions from the participants that will then be asked of people not based on Arran, including a marine biolgist, trawlers, creelers and legal professionals with a focus on water rights. As with all community video projects, what happens next would be shaped by the outcomes of the meetings. The aim of the video is not to resolve anything, but to provide a trigger to ask further questions and continue the conversations we see happening on screen.
Update since the film's completion:
Meeting Cicely Gill who is a fiction writer based on Arran was really inspiring, I kept coming back to the conversations we had and the place she lives and her involvement in community activism and stories she writes set on Arran. She wrote and reads the text that I keep returning to in the video especially for the video as a new commission and I feel like her voice and writing represent the voice or character of of the sea in some way.
A defining characteristic of community video making is the development of an aesthetic language that is reflective of the video material and the experiences of the participants located in front of and behind the camera. Following the research and shooting, when I was watching the rushes back, I became aware of all the different opinions and experiences that came up and it became integral to the editing process to find a way to hold onto and represent these different and varying registers.
Ed Webb-Ingall, July 2018
Above images: 'Shore' workshops and film stills 2018, courtesy Ed Webb-Ingall
Video-maker and writer Ed Webb-Ingall, born in London in 1982, started out working as a researcher and producer on documentaries and music videos. Aware of the rigid hierarchies that govern much of the film industry – and the often-problematic power dynamic between those behind the camera and those on it – he began to look for alternative structures. While he was doing an MA in the history of film and visual media at Birkbeck, University of London, he learned about “community video”, a method of video-production, based around a model of collective authorship that enables communities to take control of the way in which they are represented. He has since produced a number of community video projects, the most recent of which explore the legacy of section 28. Webb-Ingall’s video projects have been shown at numerous film festivals and art galleries, including at the British Film Institute’s LGBT Film Festival, Showroom and Studio Voltaire, as well as in community centres and classrooms.