Developing documentary practices for sensitive contexts – Video Ethnography in the UK Hospice Sector
Any filmmaker who sets out to make documentaries faces multiple challenges, not the least of which is a set of ethical issues inherent in the process. How to portray the subjects of the film? What to shoot and what not to shoot? How to edit so that the film is true to its topic and subjects, yet also works as a compelling story for the audiences?
If a filmmaker is working in a sensitive environment, such as a hospice, how to represent people with dignity and sensitivity to that place, time and experience are added factors too. That said, the overall purpose of my research project is to use video ethnography in the Hospice Sector as a case study for developing documentary filming practices for sensitive contexts.
My key aim is to explore how the convergence of documentary video ethnography methodologies can be used to help guide researchers as they navigate ethical concerns.
The specific objectives of my research project are to explore the ethics issue around documentary filmmaking through interviews with people from a range of ages and experiences living out their last stage of life; to deliver evidence (research and film) about what the quality of life means to people visiting day hospices and what specific practices, behaviours and attitudes have an impact on their quality of life; to capture the voices (film) of those who are attending day hospices, expressing their views of a vision for care in hospices and consider how their input might influence practice with the future.