Ed Webb-Ingall is a writer and film maker, whose expansive practice has enabled a broad spectrum of publications, screenings and exhibitions. Beginning his career as a researcher and production assistant in the fashion industry, he began to feel restricted and explains how he wanted to look towards ‘collaborative and collective types of work’.
At the time of working in these industries, Ingall was simultaneously completing an MA, through which he discovered community video practice which he felt ‘opened up possibilities.’ Community video is founded on notions of collaboration and participation, often stemming from workshops and discussions.
This genre enabled Ingall to explore new avenues of video work and image making, one that he would go on to study more in depth at PhD level. The PhD was practice led, as Ingall states, he ‘didn’t want to become this dead thing in history’. Instead, he wanted to bring life and immediacy to his research, completing the PhD in 2018.
His PhD thesis saw him chart and write the first recorded history of community video; a realm of film he had discovered was absent from most historical discourse and which he wanted to ‘write it into some kind of existence’.
Filming Process and Content
Ingall has used the techniques of community video for his new work as part of the Science Festival. The film was commissioned by Invisible Dust, a body working with leading artists and scientists to create artworks exploring our environment and climate change.
Ingall’s work ‘I walk there every day but I never saw it that way’, charts the role and impact of Marine Protected Areas for people who live near and work with them. He was inspired by the ‘Fogo Process’, an initial work made by documentary filmmaker Colin Low, who utilised media as a tool for political change on the island of Fogo. Drawing on the community-based form of documentary film, Ingall carried out a series of research trips to the island of Arran, where he hosted discussions and workshops.
These composed the film content, which he recorded using video equipment often shared and passed around the participants. I ‘try to use one camera to create a sense of shared authorship’. Ingall further explains he dislikes recording with smartphones as ‘they inhabit a certain behaviour, whereas a film camera creates a new relationship.’
Engaging with everyone from local youth groups to marine biologists, Ingall collects and charts the oral narratives of both MAP specialists and locals alike. The work is therefore the ‘opinions of multiple people’. When asked if he considers the work to be political, he states a preference in its stance remaining ‘complex and open’ as he feels the ‘things people pick up on are so different in each screening’.
Research and Working Methods
Explaining how the commission came about, Ingall states ‘I never say yes until I’ve done the research, as I needed to check in with the place first’. As each project varies greatly and is heavily ‘dependant on the participants and how involved they want to be’, it is important to Ingall that he seeks an initial point of contact prior to agreeing to take on work. As he explains, ‘it can be really stressful as it’s so much about relationships; and like any relationship, it needs honesty and transparency’.
‘I’m aware of the limits of these projects’, he goes on to explain, stating his film ‘is quite introductory, which can be problematic’. Consequently and given his position as an outsider; Ingall ‘had to be really open with people being critical of what I’d done’.
Given this, he stresses how important it is ‘to listen and ask questions’, as particularly with this project, he was ‘aware of going to places with people who had specialist knowledge in Marine Protected Areas.’
Tour of Film
The final film has toured and screened in nine locations along the coast, concluding in Edinburgh at Dynamic Earth. This journey has allowed for the conversations, reflections and research to continue and filter beyond the confines of local life. Each tour venue provides a unique local context, allowing for a ‘chain’ of contributing thoughts and observations to occur throughout Scotland.
The filmmaker states, ‘the tour has helped contextualise how we understand our relationship to the landscape’, believing content ‘shouldn’t be summed up in a single screening’. The tour has therefore allowed the conversations to evolve and continue beyond the films’s twenty-three minutes running time.
Ingall highlights this expansive nature as a core strength in utilising film, stating its ‘democratic as it allows everyone to understand what’s in front of them’. He continues, ‘it’s not like a painting, or a sculpture – film does travel so well.’