Lindsay Goodall - Documentary Filmmaker in Residence
I have been a bit blocked recently when I’ve tried to write my blog. I think it’s because I’ve been so busy over the past few weeks. I’ve been to a convergence workshop, a STIS seminar on Syngenta, the Innogen coffee morning, a Changing World lecture, an anthropology seminar on sperm banks in China, I’ve been reading a lot and trying to participate as much as possible. Now the challenge is to wade through all this new-found information to find some clarity and focus. Yet the more I discover the more I need to know, and the research phase of my residency could easily continue exponentially. I sympathise with the scientists working on the ENCODE Project. How do you know when to stop searching for new information and start to process the raw data?
While carrying out my research, I’ve become as fascinated by academia as I am with all things genomics, and surprisingly I’ve realised there are so many similarities between university life and the film and TV industry. For example, there is the constant pressure to seek funding, produce new work and keep on top of new developments and technology; the uncertainty about where your next project or commission will come from or where it will be based; there is a need to network and make contacts both locally and internationally; and there are lots of opportunities to travel and work with new partners and collaborators.
Then there is the focus on interdisciplinarity (in academia) or cross-platform (in the media). At university I hear of biologists working with engineers, and social scientists working with artists, and outside of university I know filmmakers who are working with designers, craftspeople, theatre directors and musicians.
Then there’s the pub. I think the film and TV industry is notorious for its bad behaviour, and it’s true – after each shoot there is a trip to the pub. And I’ve seen this at uni too – after the Syngenta seminar I ended up in the pub and after the anthropology seminar I narrowly avoided another trip, only because I was driving that day. Maybe that’s just what comes with working in Scotland. Or maybe academics and film people are not so different after all. Having worked in film and TV for the past 7 years, being back in a university context did seem a bit of a culture shock at first, but now I am finding comfort in the familiar and loving every minute of it!
And now I find myself sitting on a train to Lancaster on a dark Wednesday morning as I set off on a trip to Cesagen and Egenis. I’ll be meeting Cameron at Lancaster Station then heading off to meet some very interesting people at Lancaster, Cardiff and Exeter universities. I’m hoping they will help me gain some of the clarity and focus I need, though I suspect their knowledge and insights will open up yet more fascinating areas of research for me to delve into. We’re planning to film some of our meetings so we’ll post some footage of our trip on our return.