Producing participation: 'Britain in a Day' and curating mass participation

Ashton, D (2014) Producing participation: 'Britain in a Day' and curating mass participation. In: Annual MeCCSA Conference, 8 - 10 January 2014, Bournemouth University.

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Compiled from crowd-sourced film footage contributed by members of the public, the 2012 BBC documentary Britain in a Day offers ‘remarkable insight into the lives, loves, fears and hopes of people living in Britain today’. This paper situates Britain in a Day in relation to earlier efforts at documenting everyday and ordinary life in 1940s Britain that were generated as part of the Mass Observation movement. In comparing these approaches and techniques together, this paper presents a critical examination of the ways in which amateur filmmaking and practices of participatory culture can be curated and constructed within traditional filmmaking barriers and hierarchies. As a compilation of 11,526 clips submitted to YouTube, on the face of it Britain in a Day privileges the social expression of amateur filmmakers. This paper examines the ‘behind-the-scenes’ documentaries produced by the BBC and considers the presence of the ‘Quality Discourse’ (Muller, 2009) in which professional interventions are made into the practices of amateur filmmaking. These include short films by Dan Snow on preparing filming and Julia Bradbury on filming content. The Britain in a Day guidance films, as with other materials associated with YouTube and Video Dairies, assign the technical and creative (in)expertise of the amateur and ordinary filmmaker (Zimmerman, 1995). Engaging with production documentation and ‘making of’ materials, this paper argues that participation in Mass Observation activities and Britain in a Day are similarly structured by editorial processes and power relations that shape and construct participatory practices and expressions of/on everyday life.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2014 12:40
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2022 14:48
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