Using individual films for in-depth discussion
The films can also be thought about as stand-alone pieces. If you have less time, wish to run a number of sessions, or are interested in using single films to draw out additional learning opportunities, this is the method for you. This approach affords greater focus on the techniques and style of the films – rather than on their content alone – and in considering how, say, whimsical, impactful or polished they are, it necessarily spends more time thinking about the individual participants and their experience of the project. As such it draws in some of the concerns of the wider research underpinning Life:Moving. This approach will also be of interest, then, if you are thinking about the knock-on affect of your training session and/or how a similar filmmaking project might benefit your own organisation or community. If the latter is the case, please see the ‘creative toolkit’ we have produced as well, as this was designed with replication in mind.
It is recommended that individual films are watched a couple of times. For the first viewing, encourage participants to ‘just watch’. For the second, use one or two of the questions below, to help guide the viewing experience.
The text below each video provides more context for understanding the motivation and experience of each participant. There are also questions to accompany the individual films.
Andrew has a lot to say about a lot of things – what does his wider world-view bring to your understanding of the end of life experience?
How important is humour to your response to Andrew’s film?
Andrew had great ambitions for his film and was very disappointed that increasing frailty prevented him from realising them. As a result, Briony had to have much more creative control of the films.
- Do you think that Andrew’s ownership of his story is compromised in any way by this?
- How does Briony’s creative input add to – or detract from – the film?
In Andrew’s film we receive the very rare presence of a care worker, and discussion of caregiving.
- What did you learn about Andrew’s experience of care in his film?
- What did you learn about the carer’s experience?
- What did the film tell you about life-limiting conditions?
- What does Keisha’s experience tell us about the dynamic between patients and doctors?
- How evident, and how important, is Keisha’s perspective in the film?
“[The project] opened doors I wasn’t expecting. From the beginning there was a very therapeutic element to it and that process did get to me. I’m not used to opening up. […] It was the thought that everyone was going to see it. It was that process of having to work through my feelings about how I felt.”
“It was helpful for me on a personal, psychological level. It’s helped me to acknowledge my feelings about terminal illness or about how I’ve been feeling, and that’s not something I’ve ever wanted to look at before.”
There is something particularly intense and intimate about Rob’s film. Why do you think this is?
People often find Rob’s film to be especially affecting and perhaps surprising. What are the reasons for this?
Rob wrote the script for his film and controlled the camera throughout:
- how does his creative control influence your response to his film?
- Does it matter that his film lacks polish?
Rob – as you can see from his testimony below – was determined that his film tell the truth of his experience, ‘warts n’all’ as he said:
- How important do you think this is?
- How does Rob put this into action?
- How ugly (or beautiful), positive or negative, is the truth of his experience – can you think of examples from his film?
“The main thing I wanted was to obviously portray a message but also to feel like I was fulfilling a useful purpose. […] People can give up because they feel useless, nothing to do, they’ll give up and won’t fight it. But if you give people like me a reason to get up in the morning and really fight the disease we’ll get far more chance.”
“[The message of the film] is about the mental aspect of the disease – because while the physical symptoms are monitored and treated, if you’re having a really bad day nothing’s done about it. Basically they’ll talk to you but they’re not trained in combating depression and once again if you get too depressed you’re just going to pack in.”
(Talking about the impact of his film on hospice workers) “They thought it was different to see somebody that would actually just sit there and tell things as it is, instead of bells and whistles, fluffy white clouds and all that. They found it opened their eyes as well.”
Fran’s MND meant she was particularly limited in how she could express her story her self. How did she and her son work around, or even defy, such limitations?
There is a lot of hope expressed in Fran’s film, where does this come from do you think?
While the Life:Moving project was all about prioritising the participant’s voice, in Fran’s case, her voice, could not be heard. Instead, Rachel spoke for her and without Fran’s Birmingham accent, which she’d told us, was upsetting to her.
- What affect did this detached voice have on you?
- What makes the film feel so personal nevertheless?
“I wanted to express hope. That even if you are faced with the unexplainable and unexpected you can keep hold of hope. And your diagnosis doesn’t have to define who you are.”
“I loved making it with Louis and hearing his views and ideas on how the film should look. It’s another precious memory for us.”
Photographs are all important in Pete’s film. Unlike Fran, he is his absent from the images, and, in fact, from the film itself.
- What affect did Pete’s absence have on your response to the film?
- What affect did it have on your understanding of Pete’s end of life experience?
- Pete tells his story like a slideshow yet why does the film still feel so personal?
Pete wanted to take part in the project but to remain unidentifiable throughout. Why might this be?
Yusef was very keen to make a film but was already extremely ill when the project started and died not long after. Haifa, his wife, carried his enthusiasm into the development of the film, which was made Briony, and provided all the footage and photographs that she integrated into it. It is the most developed of all the films – with the longest and most structured narrative – and the most polished.
- How does the variety of footage and quality of the film impact your response to it?
- Yusef’s experience with terminal illness is, largely, told by Haifa. How does this affect your view of his condition?
- The film is very unusual in showing Yusef’s dead body, and sharing with us a muslim funeral. What do you think is important – or perhaps troubling – about including these things?
How affective is the film as a memorial to Yusef?
“The message from the film in itself is to do with the public and knowing terminal illness doesn’t always put you down. Lots of people become terminally ill and then their depression takes them away and then they give up so quick, and my husband was completely utterly the opposite of it and he fought right till the last minute of breath. And I think it’s important to give that message to other people going through the same thing.”
Haifa also commented on the importance of the film for Reem, their daughter, who starred in it. Haifa explained that the finished product means Reem will be able to see what her dad was like in twenty years time which is wonderful.