Edinburgh Research Explorer

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Education / Academic qualification

Master of Arts, The University of Oxford

Biography

DOCUMENTARY MAKER

As a director , I have a keen interest in exploring approaches to documentary narrative and finding new forms which defy conventional storytelling. My background in experimental theatre gave me a strong grounding in using inter disciplinary collaborative approaches to  foster innovative work. I  founded a company called Clanjamfrie which was one of Scotland's first performance companies ( " leads the way in Scottish performance" The List)   and also collaborated with Robert Lepage on the ground breaking production of "Tectonic Plates" . Prior to working at Edinburgh University, I was a documentary director working with BBC, Channel 4 and other international broadcasters for over 10 years.

Questions motivate my work such as " I am Breathing" (see below) which mingled fictional approaches with documentary to find a haptic expression for the physical state of MND and " Becoming Animal"  my latest film which is a  co-direction with renowned Swiss Canadian film director Peter Mettler and attempts to create a new kind of " nature" documentary which charts the act of perception.

With " I am breathing" the ethical dilemna of making a film about a man dying with MND, necessitated a self-reflexive quest into how documentary could empower the participant so they were not passive in the process. By using a blog which Neil PLatt , the main character, had written, the film gave him some agency but also allowed a more universal story which transcended a film about either illness or dying and became an intimate quest for meaning. Co-directing it with  fiction film maker, Morag MacKinnon, we found a hybrid form which eluded classification but seemed fitting as an attempt to imagine the experience of living with this paralysing condition.

IMPACT

The film played in over 50 countries and was received well both by critics and audiences.  Funders included Film 4, Creative Scotland, Danish Film Institute and it was developed with funding from the Welcome Trust. The MND Association were key partners too, helping us target a wide spreading oitreach campaign.  After playing at major festivals such as IDFA where it was nominated for Best Feature, it used an innovative approach to distribution to reach many different audiences. It became instrumental in raising awareness of the disease around the world and was responsible for legislative change in Brazil for treatment of MND patients. It won BAFTA Best Director in 2013 ( Scottish BAFTA) and was nominated for 3 Scottish BAFTA's in total.  Press included newspapers articles (including a front page  top headline in The Independent " How a dying man taught me to live" , ), reviews, tv programmes,  news , online articles etc in many different countries.

"Becoming Animal" is a co-direction with Peter Mettler and is a radically different kind of nature documentary. It is an essay film which explores our sensorial relationship with the natural world and how our concept of " nature" has evolved, based on the writing and thoughts of philosopher David Abram. The film is due to be completed in February 2018 and will start its festival distribution in March 2018.

STORY EDITOR

I often work as a story editor for documentary makers around the world and am currently collaborating with Syrian filmmaker Diana El Jeroudhi .  For the last 4 years we have worked on developing a film language for her new project " Republic of Silence" produced by Orwa Nyrabia. I also story edited " 16 Years till Summer" with Lou McLoughlan and have been involved in story development with many other international films.

LECTURES/MENTORING

I give lectures on documentary film and mentor film makers internationally , working in conjunction with organisations such as European Documentary Network and others. Organisations I have given talks or lectures to include Doc Edge Kolkata, Storydoc Greece, Ex Oriente Film, Croatia and Prague, IDFA Summer School Amsterdam,  Open City Docs, London, Norwegian Film School, Mental Health Film Festival, Wales,  Royal College of Physicians, London,  etc. I have also worked with filmmakers at Doha Film Institute Qumra , Down Below Zero, Norway , Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, Baltic See Forum Riga,  Discovery Campus  Crossing Borders  Shanghai, Docs Barcelona , Storydoc Athens, Corfu, Palestine and Leipzig Film Festival and many more.

WRITING

Many articles for DOX magazine which are now archives on the website Modern Times- see https://www.moderntimes.review/author/emma-davie/

 

 

 

Research outputs

  1. Becoming Animal

    Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

  2. 16 Years till Summer

    Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

  3. Staying with the Trouble: The radical work of CAMP

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

View all (14) »

Research activities & awards

  1. Arab European Documentary Convention

    Activity: ConsultancyPublic Engagement – Work on advisory panels for social community and cultural engagement

  2. Edinburgh Science Festival

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

  3. CPH:DOX

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

View all (25) »

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