Tim Crook interviewed Dr. Tony Dowmunt who is a Senior Lecturer and convenor of the Screen Documentary in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths about his pioneering of the practice PhD at this university.
He was the first practice academic in the department to complete an AVPhD- which was a balance of a professional practice film or media artefact and theoretical academic thesis.
Tim and Tony discuss the discrimination against practice academics in UK higher education and how the practice PhD may be a method of redressing the balance.
Tony believes that the discrimination has been appalling and wonders whether the only way of successfully stopping it would be for practice lectures to refuse to do any more teaching in order to receive the concessions they deserve.
Tim also talks to Tony about his AVPhD project.
It was a personal exploration of his identity and past through video diary format.
A summary to his thesis is provided below:
A Whited Sepulchre: Autobiography and video diaries in ‘post-documentary’ culture
‘This is a PhD project partly about my class and ethnic background and consciousness: how I have lived them as a white man and a documentary filmmaker, and how they are connected to the ghost of my great-grandfather, who was a soldier in the British Army in Sierra Leone in the 1880s.
But it is also a project about autobiographical documentary filmmaking, and is submitted for examination in two main components: the first a video-diary based film (A Whited Sepulchre) in which I investigated the form/genre of the video diary by making one myself – filmmaking as a research method; the second, a text which has an independent relationship to the film – not one of ‘illustration, description or explication’ but hopefully of ‘expansive enrichment’ (Trinh T. Minh-Ha quoted in McLaughlin & Pearce (eds) 2007: 107).
A Whited Sepulchre is a video which draws on the stories of two journeys: my great-grandfather’s account of his posting to Sierra Leone, and my own ‘video diary’ of a trip that I made in December/January 2004-5, following in his footsteps but seeking a different understanding of Africa and of myself as a white ‘Englishman’.’
Professor Tim Crook.