Universitetsmuseet i Bergen

Introductory course in anthropological filmmaking

The Department of Cultural History invites students to Introductory course in anthropological filmmaking with Leonard Kamerling, Curator of Film at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. The course is intended for students who are planning to use film as part of their fieldwork in anthropology or other similar disciplines. Sign up before 12 March at 4.00 PM.

Frode Storaas

The Course

At the start of this class, your phone was just a phone with a camera for shooting photos and videos of your friends and family. By the end you will look at this video camera in your pocket as a new tool – a way to see, understand and interpret your world.  What are the stories from your every-day life that can communicate the most about your culture?

In this four-day intensive course you will learn how to make a short film with your cell phone or video camera, learn about filming and editing techniques, and most importantly, learn how to make films with an anthropological eye.  As an introduction to visual anthropology you will learn about the history and theory of anthropological filmmaking, ethical issues and how the video camera can be used for research, study and sharing.  Included will be excerpts of the instructor’s ethnographic film work from Alaska.

Because filmmaking is a collaborative craft, students will work together in small production groups.  After the first two days learning camera skills and the basic grammar of visual storytelling, groups will shoot their films over the two-day weekend.  

Course outline

Day 1 – Thursday

Our visual literacy, how we understand the language of stories told in pictures and sound.  How to use your phone, tablet and other digital devices to record and interpret the culture and data around you.  Introduction to camera and sound.  The basic grammar of the shot: wide, medium close up perspectives - transferring action into video elements that can be edited and structured.

Day 2 – Friday

Class projects - shoot a movie! The difference between shooting video and making a film.  Forming production groups and finding your stories.  Making plans for filming over the weekend.  Practice shooting and viewing footage.  Location sound recording techniques.  Location scouting, arrangements with participants and ethical considerations.  Viewing examples of other student short films.  


Shooting your films.

Day 3 – Monday

How did it go? Viewing of footage and discussion.  Strategies for editing.  Where is the real story in your footage? How to structure these elements into a cohesive, compelling story. 

Day 4 – Tuesday

Where did this all come from? The history and evolution of film and editing, anthropological film from its origins to today. The theory of Montage and how it effects our experience as filmmakers. Final thoughts, plans for the future. 


The students who sign up for the course should have finished their introductory courses in anthropology or similar. There are limited places on the course, and senior students of anthropology (BA or MA) who are planning to do fieldwork will be prioritized. We do however encourage all students who are interested to sign up.