One for all, all for one: three female migrant workers – my filming experience

Theme 2 and the INTEGRIM network are undertaking a film training organised by the CEU in Budapest and Olena. I would like to share some of my filming experiences with you, which will hopefully lead to a nice short film in the end. Our ambitious course leaders Klára Trencsényi and Vlad Naumescu plan on having a ready-made film by each participant by the end of the course, so while the first week in December was still a lot about learning the craft and figuring out ideas, the months until the next course in late May saw all of us going out and collecting material.

Because my fieldwork stage had already ended and I wasn’t even in the country of my respondents, neither in the UK nor Poland, I had to organise my filming from abroad. For one weekend in between a trip to London for a WLRI Lunchtime seminar and going to Poland for data analysis and teaching I went up North to lovely Yorkshire. I was hosted by my supervisor Cilla and her partner Andrew and enjoyed staying in their beautiful home and being driven back and forth to train stations. For the filming I borrowed the camera and tripod of the University of Wrocław from Mateusz on the one day our placements at the ETUI in Brussels overlapped. After difficulties arranging whom to meet in the limited time I was there and arranging all organisational things, I finally went out to film with my respondents.

I went to Iwona’s house in Leeds and was really lucky that she was having me despite her living room not having a floor because of an on-going refurbishment. So we filmed in her kitchen and I got to meet and also film her son Oliwier. I had conducted a biographical narrative interview with Iwona a year ago and after the interesting interview we had a long chat and stayed in contact via Facebook afterwards. Iwona had after a year of being alone with Oliwier in Poland followed her husband to the UK, when Oliwier was 10 years old, now he already has his 18th birthday coming up. Iwona is the Equality Officer in the M35 Migrant Workers’ Branch of the trade union GMB and organises the women’s forum. After this I took two buses to get to Wakefield, where Martyna welcomed me. Martyna is also one of my respondents from last year and a member of the M35. She had moved to the UK with her two daughters joining her husband after some time of living apart. We filmed in her living room and also in her daughter Patrycja’s room, who was studying there for an upcoming exam in college. My third respondent was Gosia, who I hadn’t met before, but since she is the auditor of the M35, she was willing to meet me to talk about this mainly Polish trade union branch and her migration and work experience. This time we had to meet in a coffee shop in the centre, so I’m a bit worried how the background noise will turn out. However, the people there were so nice even asking me towards closing time if they could start sweeping the floor while I’m still filming.

Caption: Around the corner of Martyna’s home in Wakefield

Throughout the whole day sun and clouds took turns, which caused different light conditions in the pictures and also sometimes a shadow on Gosia’s face. It was really windy that day, so outside shots, where I usually couldn’t set up the tripod, are very shaky. The tripod is huge and heavy and I am not the biggest, strongest person, so even carrying it the whole day through wind caused a couple of blue marks on my arms etc. It was a bit much to organise, so I had to forget something, which in the end was the recorder for the lavalier mic, the small microphone you can attach to someone’s collar for better sound. I only had the shotgun mic on top of the camera, but because most of the material was filmed in private homes, the sound is Ok, I hope. I prepared questions for each one and knew more or less what answers to expect, because I knew their life stories already. However, the dynamic that both children of Iwona and Martyna would be at home and that they played a significant role in their migration experience, was a bit coincidental. In my film I would like to construct a narrative around that, but also around their work experiences and the role of the Migrant Workers’ Branch. The editing will certainly be a challenging stage, so while I don’t want you to expect too much, look out for the end product!

Caption: from left to right: Iwona, Martyna & Patrycja, Gosia
Film reel: Designed by Freepik

Actions: Comments (2)


12 May 2015 14:56
Knowing that the filming for the second half of the Marie Curie Film school is going on full speed, I was often wondering how's everyone managing, so its great to read some news! Thanks for that! Its also great to notice how your post spins around not the content of the interviews but the visual and the emotional aspect of this interaction, something that I think film media really brings out very well. I wonder if you felt that making these interviews was any different from making your interviews for the PhD. I am looking forward to all the editing work in Budapest and to see your film!
# Karima
13 May 2015 08:23
Thank you Olena for your comment! The technical and visual things are quite a challenge if you haven't worked with it before. It was good that I knew most of my protagonists before from earlier interviews, otherwise I think I wouldn't have understood their stories so well. However, the filming showed me on the one hand how reflective they were already in the earlier interview, and on the other hand I think it deepened my understanding of their meaning making.

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