In order to be reflexive, I must first outline what definition of reflexivity I am using. I will be using ruby’s definition of reflexivity where he states that it is a combination of producer (sender of the message), process (methods), and product (what those receiving it gain). Therefore, to be reflexive here would be to produce a product that shows the audience an expression of the producer, the process of making the film, and the final product (Ruby, 1980).
During the beginning of filming Holly and I discussed the possibility of making a film together about coronavirus, as we both felt that it would be interesting to document how it has affected our lives. Shortly after this conversation, that same day, Holly’s Dad brought a “corona haul” which contained large amounts of food, toilet rolls, and other household items. Only an hour after this lockdown was announced by Boris Johnson which led to some of our housemates leaving that same evening. The method and process of creating the film in the early stages were initially sparked out of a realization that things were happening very quickly. We initially intended to get footage from the woods to serve just as B-Roll, but our conversations about coronavirus ended up becoming the focus of our film. We then decided to record our reactions to Boris’s announcement as we had heard he might be announcing lock down the same night we had begun filming. After recording this I was struck by the magnitude of what had just happened and felt that it should be documented as a piece of history.
Another reflexive point during the filming was on our journey into Canterbury. I felt very uncomfortable with the lack of social distancing and the careless way that some people were behaving. During this time, we saw graffiti which reminded me again of my family and the dangers that we face during these uncertain times. The graffiti stated, “Boris lockdown now, save your Nan” which caused me to think about how when the pandemic is over, there will be little left to remember it aside from stories and graffiti. This persuaded me further that making a film documenting our experiences was a worthwhile pursuit. I also reflected on this when discussing the project with my grandmother as she told me how this is something of a similar magnitude to the war, she said how my grandchildren would ask me about these times. After realising this I knew it was quite important that I document the activities happening today so that they are not forgotten by future generations.
One of the messages I wanted to convey in the film was the difficulties of not having someone to interact with, as Holly and I are very lucky that we had each other during this lockdown. A person who influenced me in this the creation of this film was Wikan who discusses the idea of Resonance, something that “fosters empathy of compassion” (Wikan, 1992). Wikan discusses how the author and the reader (viewer) must have a communication whereby they engage with another world, not through words or facts but through experiencing the work (film) (Wikan, 1992). In my own film, I attempted to do this by showing or implying, not just telling the audience what is happening. For instance, the clip of me getting a fly caught in my eye was not an intentional moment but was said by some of my classmates in our feedback to be their favorite clip. This is because it encapsulates the COVID-19 situation in an innocent way, I really wanted to put my hands to my face, but I could not because of the current situation. As a producer of this film initially, I was unsure about including this clip as it is rather humorous, and I wondered if it took away from the seriousness of COVID. But when discussing with my classmates I was able to see that they liked that Holly and I included cheerful moments as it showed an element of hope throughout this difficult situation.
I asked my grandparent's opinion on the film too, in order to get more perspectives about the direction of the film. Both of my grandparents reminded me to look at the positives and perhaps focus on the points about what we can gain from this situation. I discussed this idea with Holly, and we decided that so far, the film had encapsulated all aspects of corona both bad and good. We wanted to make a more well-rounded, nuanced portrayal of the situation, where we showed our responses. We chose this rather than taking a more static positive or negative focus as we wanted it to feel more realistic. Therefore, the film includes little voice over as it intends to focus on our reactions rather than a premeditated discussion.
Finally, another important area that I was reflexive about was the interactions between Holly and I as we wanted to communicate subtly that we are a couple that was locked down together. We decided to share later in the film that we would eventually be locked down separately once university is over. We felt that was important to include as it was something that is going to have one of the biggest impacts on our lives so far. This is why the film ends shortly after sharing this point, as it communicates that together we were able to make the best of the situation but are feeling sad at the thought of not being together. I was also quite reflexive about my choice to include me singing YMCA at the end. I referred to my peer’s earlier comments about our positive attitudes and decided that even though the future is uncertain it would leave the audience with a good feeling even in difficult times. We also chose to have the final shot of the film with where we have been locked down for the past five weeks as we felt it concluded the story of us both being locked down. The fact that the film ends with George (me) dancing outside the place we were locked down subtly suggests to the audience that COVID will be over one day and we will leave lockdown with high spirits.
RUBY, J., 1980. Exposing yourself: Reflexivity, anthropology, and film. Semiotica, 30(1-2).
Wikan, U., 1992. Beyond the words: the power of resonance. American Ethnologist, 19(3), pp.460-482.