• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.


Readings (due October 4)

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 9 months ago


To comment on the following readings, please first indicate your name, e-mail address, and the date of your post. Then, add your comments.


Example: [E. Kintz, kintz@geneseo.edu, 8/25]














Hockings, "Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America"





[Heather Warren, hrw1@geneseo.edu, 10/4]



Hockings, "Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America"



  1. Economic / Social Change: I think it is really sad that there really are no funding sources for ethnographic films! We could learn so much from these films and perhaps even fight social injustice as well as intercultural misunderstandings.
  2. Economic: Another concern is whether or not people would actually pay to watch ethnographic films. With so many fictional, and often according to popular belief, more exciting films to see, most people I believe would much rather spend money to go see a fictional film with lots of special effects rather than an ethnographic film. This is probably partly due to our culture.
  3. Economic / Social Change: It is even more irritating when those who are willing to fund films are biased and only cater to the majority and exude a great deal of bias. This, I believe, defeats one of the purposes of ethnographic and educational film.




[Steph Aquilina, sma8@geneseo.edu, 10/9]


Hockings, “Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America”


1. SOCIAL CHANGE: While ethnographic films are not easily sponsored or supported, they are crucial in examining problems plaguing international politics. Ethnocentrism is a major force in the lack of education and lack of appropriate measures taken in foreign policies. If the government began to fund anthropologists wishing to create ethnographic films about cultures with whom it interacts, perhaps positive global social change could be achieved.

2. POLITICS: When accepting grants from agencies, a filmmaker must be willing to respect and follow their demands. For example, the author, Sabine Jell-Bahlsen, received logistic support from a Nigerian group, who requested that he expand his geographic area for filming. Although he planned to limit his research to a specific locality, he agreed to broaden his scope and turned out to be pleased with the outcome.

3. ECONOMICS: Funding situations too often result in a compromised vision of ethnographic quality. Dealing with political constraints, ideological differences, or commercial pressures severely limits project goals and puts pressure on anthropologist filmmakers to perform to others’ standards rather than to the dignity of the field. END



[Dave Roberts, dlr4@geneseo.edu, 10-10]


1.) POLITICS: Securing funding for an ethnographic film is a difficult task, made harder by the fact that any agency, company or foundation has an agenda behind giving away their money, be it monetary, political, or both. These agendas often end up influencing the final film in some form or another.


2.) POLITICS: It is disturbing that it is the sentiment of the National Endowment for the Humanities to "give the audience what they want." While I have no objection to good old fashioned entertainment, I think such a foundation should have more respect for the potential scientific value of film. In assuming that film should produced for a "general audience" of middle upper class, white, educated males, about topics generally pertaining to their interests, many issues and topics are left uncovered and ignored.


3.) POLITICS: Even after a film has been produced and finished, business and bureaucracy come back into play with a film's distribution. A film can be shopped around at film festivals or conventions, waiting for a non theatrical distributor interested in educational film to pick it up, or the filmmaker can distribute it independently. This requires a large monetary investment which will probably not generate much return.



Charlie Genao cg7@geneseo.edu 10-12


1. Political: It is very difficult to make an unbised film becuase companies to give there money for nothing in return you. That is how busness works people dont do anything without money as an incentive. With such a barrier how can we over come this. 


2. Economics: When there is no interest in something there is no money so the filmmaker has to fund raise which is very difficult since people arent educated in this area nor interested. Also people who are educated only care about the exotic of the culture nothing else.


3. When a filmmaker and anthropolgists are working togther the filmmaker calls most of the shots because he controls the funding.



[Elen De Oliveira, emd10@geneseo.edu, 10/10]


Hockings, “Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America”


1. Economics- Often, people don't realize that not all filmmakers are from hollywood, raking in the dollars from their productions and being supported through many fundraisers. I never thought about how much more difficult it is to have to fundraise yourself, as well as actually make the film. Especially when there is no one interested in backing ethnographic films financially.


2. Social change/economics- It is clear that social opinions play a large role in putting pressure on the finances of a film production. The production of a low-cost one hour documentary film of professional quality requires a minimun of $60, 000, but social pressure moves that minimum up to $200,000. The pressure to have your film be accepted and respected requires a dramatic increase in minimum spending. Filmmakers also may gear their films toward issues similar to those of possible sponsers when in need of financial backing.


3. Politics- It is unfortunate that the National Endowment for the Humanities is one of the sole endorsers of ethnographic film because their ideas about "what the people want" are extremely biased. Their requirements for films cause the educational aspects of ethnographic films to be avoided as well as any focus on issues of other cultures which is what anthropology is all about.





{Isobel Connors, icc2@geneseo.edu, 10/10}


Hockings, "Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America"


1. ECONOMICS/SOCIAL CHANGE: I was surprised that the National Endowment for the Humanities would be so concerned with the consumerism aspect of film, rather than that which would enrich its viewers.


2. ECONOMICS/POLITICS: Sabine Jell-Bahlsen’s confrontation with ethnocentrism while attempting to raise money disappointed me. He writes that they “flatly requested I hire only American professionals if applying for American money” (424). How can we expect to examine cultures holistically while promoting ethnocentrism?


3. ECONOMICS: I agree with Jell-Bahlsen’s assertion that “home videos” can be a beneficial and easy tool when on a low budget. This film technique is often less invasive and can promote a record of more sincere interactions within cultures.





(Cameron Mack, cfm6@geneseo.edu, 10/10)


Hockings, "Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America"


1.Economic: I agree with many of the other people that have posted on the surprising fact that ethnographies don't get funded. The idea of raising the money yourself for a film production is incredibly intimidating. It would take a large amount of patients and determination to raise such funds. Thankfully there are other methods to fundraising, as not to make it impossible to produce an ethnographic film

2.Economic: Another economic concern is the possibility of marketing the film in order to get people to see it. Without the support of audiences the film will not be a success, which is necessary for the film to make a financial benefit.

3.Political: Without fundraising, ethnographic films have difficulty being made as frequently as people would like. Ethnographic films assist in the education of people on important social issues and dilemnas. This is wide and broad category, that encompasses all areas able to be shown on film within it. These issues might go unchecked if there is not a way making people aware of them.



[Laurie Sadofsky, las22@geneseo.edu, 10/12]

Hockings, “Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America” by Sabine Jell

1. Social change: The content of films is largely influenced by political and commercial biases, often idealizing the West and ignoring non-Western societies. In addition, ethnographers need to be careful when their films are played on television stations because they often result in an unfavorable opinion of the culture since there is no time for discussion or explanation.

2. Politics: While trying to create a documentary on her work in Nigeria, she was met with much resistance from American film companies since she wanted to use a Nigerian film crew. Although we can buy tons of products made in other countries for dirt cheap, the moment we have the opportunity to give them a job that would pay a decent salary, the issue of taking jobs away from Americans comes up.

3. Politics: Many television companies do not support ethnographic films because they believe they do not interest the “general audience.” Who is the general audience and how do companies know what people want? This generalization about the American people is actually insulting to Americans, since it suggests that we are only interested in reality, sitcom and drama shows. For the sake of our future, I hope that is not so.




[Dilek Canakci, dc11@geneseo.edu, 10/14]

Hockings, “Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America


Economics: Hockings made clear how hard it is to fundraise to support your film and yourself until your film earns some kind of fame.


Economics/Social: It is a complex job to not only make a film that is good enough for people to recognize but also good enough to get positive reactions from the viewers. People’s opinion matter more than anything and it is the viewers that could give you the chance to reach fame and recognition.


Economics: It is hard for people to see movies that are not similar to Hollywood movies. Ethnographic films are not similar to movies that we see at the theatres and this cuts back a lot for the filmmaker. It is very hard to make people recognize your work without the Hollywood fame that other films can carry.



[Jonathon Baker, jlb22@geneseo.edu, 10/16]

Hockings: “Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America”

  1. Economics: I am surprised that there is such a lack of funding for ethnographic film. I suppose if budgets for the film really are $200,000+ than I suppose that’s the major issue. I just also know how much in research grants even a small college like Geneseo gets, and it seems like there should at least be a little more funding than there is.
  2. Politics: Giving the audiences what they want may be the only way to get funding, but it also presents a great deal of issues. I can’t see many audiences wanting true authenticity. Films with no doctoring whatsoever may in many cases be quite boring to get funding the director is compelled to sacrifice some authenticity.
  3. Change: In the section regarding the pros and cons of different technologies, I wonder what effect the emergence of the digital camcorders will have. Digital film recording and editing is easier than film and hopefully this will give anthropologists more opportunities.





[Anne Kim, ak13@geneseo.edu, 10/16]


Hockings – “Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America”

1. Sabine Jell Bahlsen discusses the constant struggle ethnographers have with filming and the economic problems. This problem would not occur with Hollywood films but it is a whole different story with ethnographic film. This is because there not much funding for ethnographic film.

2. Because there is not much funding, ethnographic film makers must resort to funding. They spend much of their time thinking of ways to raise money for the film instead of thinking of ways to make money from the film that they are making.

3. I feel that this economic problem is unfair because ethnographic film is just as important as the Hollywood films, possibly even more important, but not much attention is paid to this film. Because it does not interest the people, it does not get the support that it needs.





[Larkin Kimmerer, llk5@geneseo.edu, 10-18]

Hockings: "Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America"

1. Economics: I was interested in the budget issue; it said that a serious budget is around $200,000. I looked up movie budgets online, and very few of the movies under $200,000 (with the exception of SuperSize Me and Blair Witch) were ever big movies. Compared to the entertainment industry, $200k is nothing!

2. Ideology: Ethnographic films are either made for education or for "general audiences" but I feel as though "general audiences" would not watch an ethnographic film...the general public who would watch movies for education are probably not "average" either.

3. Economics: It definitely seems like more time and effort is put in to fundraising and getting your name out there than actually making movies.





[Shamiran Warda, sw11@geneseo.edu, 10/18]

"Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America"


Economic/Social: The first sentence of this section was indeed hard to read. It is upsetting to discover we have money for war yet no funding what so ever for ethnographical films or any anthropological research. I feel funding for these should be high priority especially since there is so much we can gain from them. In all, I feel we are not sacrificing money right now but more importantly anthropological work that is very useful today and will be of greater importance in the future.


Social: I find it fascinating how much money is flowing in the Hollywood industry, yet nothing much in the anthropological field. Our films, I strongly feel have been largely influenced. We have a known set image these days that the majority of people follow and that is the western image; whereas the non-western societies are often times thought of as nothing much. Such influences I feel can often times come from the commercial, political and religious biases.



Economic/Social: Often time big organizations do not fund ethnographical film because they feel they will lose money at the end. They know the audience, especially these days, would rather go see an action movie than a study on some tribe that is thousands of miles away from them. With this in mind, I see funding as a compromised situation, like the saying “I scratch your back if you scratch mines”. And often times the only way ethnographical film gets any funding is if they change some aspects around to please the people with the money. Thus, funding is possible however it might not always be the desirable route; one has to place in his or her mind if it is worth twisting one thing in order to gain another thing. In all, I strongly feel the United States should have similar funding situation for ethnographic film as seen in Denmark, Austria, and Germany, where there are semipublic institutions dedicated to the production, preservation and distribution of educational film.



[Kaitlyn Northrop, krn3@geneseo.edu, 10/4]
Economics- It was interesting that you must have money to make a film, but you don’t earn any money until you become famous for making until you become famous for making the film. This would make it hard for many people to start film making.
Politics- Producing and making a film is hard enough as it is, but after adding in the push from “sponsors” and “contributors” the film often becomes biased.
Economics- Low budget films are often the way to go because they are easier to produce and still get ideally the same result of capturing the natives in their homeland.


[Jennifer Ritzenthaler, jkr5@geneseo.edu, 10/20/07]


"Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America"- Hockings


1.Economy-For anthropologists making films, much time must be spent fundraising, thereby taking time away from actual filming.

2.Ideology-The goals of organizations funding films do not necessarily coincide with the goals of organizations that would fund anthropological research. This may interfere with the integrity of the piece and the amount of certain types of films being made

3.Ideology-The National Endowment for the Humanities said that “You have to give them what they want” (417), referring to the audience that the films are being made for. This could also interfere with the integrity of the films.




[Adam Saunders, ars11@geneseo.edu, 10/22]


Funding in Ethnographic Films

Ethnographic films are not made very often because of a critical point of funding. There is not a lot of money or any sort of major return for funding such a project. Even the most basic film crew costs thousands of dollars worth of equipment and office work.

The ethnographer must also if being offered funding for a film, that those who have willingly donated money for it want a certain viewpoint or outlook on the culture because of their contribution to the film. Objectivity must be maintained.

As far as TV funding for ethnographies we must also be careful. A channel or company will want the ethnography shot a certain way as to keep the audience interested. At times this my mean blowing aspects of culture out of proportion or focusing on just key points in to keep the film interesting to the general public.




[Nicole Rothman, ngr1@geneseo.edu, 10/22]

1. Economics- ethnographic films face a lack of funding, most likely because people don’t pay to see ethnographic films over Hollywood films and if they do it’s in off beat theaters, they just can’t compete in the box offices.

2. Economics- pressure to have the film fit the accepted norms increases the price to create the film

3. Politics- I was surprised that the National Endowment for the Humanities is more concerned with the consumer aspect of the film as opposed to educating the public.



[Dan Lilly, djl5@geneseo.edu, 10/22]

Hockings - Funding in Ethnographic Films


ECONOMICS: Its very unfortunate that there's basically no mainstream market for ethnographic films. This is what leads to many of the problems with constistancy and credibility within them. Compromises are always made between education and entertainment.

POLITICS: I think the idea of using ethnographic films to educate people about political issues is a great one. Why hasn't the government commisioned someone to make an ethnography about Iraq? Or anywhere in the middle east, for that matter. How can we interact with these people at all when we have at best a very opaque understanding of who they are?

POLITICS: Its scary to think about how ethnocentric people really are, even today. We like to think that globalization has taken us out of such behavior, but it seems like its permeated through all parts of our society. A personal example: a company my father used to work for wouldn't allow you to park in the front lont, which was much closer to the building and the main road and so more visible, unless you drove an American car. It might be pertinent to ask ourselves what this sort of ethnocentricism really accomplishes.




Alfred Dilluvio ajd12@geneseo.edu 10/23


Economics: Of course funding for true ethnographic films is difficult. How is anyone ever going to get funding for an accurate and legitimate film in the USA. Everyone wants to see a load of visually stunning panoramas of exotic locales and tremendous fight scenes. People want to see crap like Apocalypto, not carefully constructed objective films about people.


Money is only going to be given to a film maker, if the beneficiary approves of the view the film maker is going to try and portray. So if the film maker develops a relationship with his subjects, and they wish to be portrayed in a certain way which isnt similar to the beneficiary, the project will not go.


It is remarkable that people don't make more ethnographic films. Because Americans don't read books, it would seem like the best way to educate them would be through such visual media as films. I have frequently thought that a video on the traditional beliefs of middle easterners might help people understand the culture better. But the only way to understand a culture is to have them approve what we see of them. If they make the film, then we can have hope of accepting its worth. Every group of people should have the right to at least exert some control over the perception that is had of them.


[Skye Naslund, sjn1@geneseo.edu 10/23/07]

Hockings “Funding Ethnographic Film and Video Productions in America”


1-The fact the money dictates what is shown is a restraint on ethnographic films. In order for a film to be shown on US television, it must show the United States in a favorable light. Americans don’t want to see Africa’s contribution to humanity, only our own. Because of this, US ideas are much more likely to enter homes in the Third World, than are Third World ideas to enter our homes.

2-Funders want to put money into something that audiences will like so they can make back the money they spend. This compromises the Anthropologist because making a film for the American audience takes away the ethnographic aspect of it.

3-Ethnographic films are more common on Canadian and European television than they are on US TV. This, however, does not mean that they are just as biased in that they are made for those specific audiences.




[Rebecca Coons, rsc2@geneseo.edu, 10/23/07


ECONOMIC: I find it unfortunate that there is no funding for ethnographic film work, and yet Hollywood pumps out billion dollar movies every day. It just shows the supply and demand of the American people.

SOCIAL: Maybe if people could change their priorities there wouldn’t be a need to have violence and gore or sex in every movie that hits the screen. Entertainment films are great no doubt, but there is more to the world than a good movie. Instead of people saying “I want to see the world” why not support ethnographic film studies so that people can actually see the world.

Politics- I was surprised that the National Endowment for the Humanities is more concerned with the getting an audience to watch the films, not necessarily to have the people learning about other cultures. – END –


Brendan Ryan, bmr4@geneseo.edu, 12/16/07



While it's sad that so little money for ethnographic film is available, I can't say that I'm very surprised.  The perception is that it doesn't have a wide enough audience for it to warrant the investment.  Add to that the fact that many in the anthropological community aren't completely conviced of the medium as a viable method for presenting ethnographic research, and you end up with very few avenues that lead to any substantial amount of support.  If there were a peer-review system in ethnographic film maybe this would increase people's confidence in the medium and lead to greater financial support. -END-


Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.