When I set out to complete this film, I had completed an Ethics Charter to help assist me in the filming process. This, however, was created before the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, and we moved to online learning, which changed the entire project – including the way that I set out to approach filming and putting it together. I had to find a way to create a powerful film, without actually being able to leave the house or see anyone to film – which I did through the use of voice-over narrative, stock footage and interviews that I had collected via asking people to participate and record the interview themselves, with whatever technology they had available. This didn’t make my Ethics Charter obsolete, it just meant that I had to apply these ethics differently. This was the charter I had completed, below:
- Turn the camera off at the request of the participant (Rachel Boynton, DOC NYC, 2018).
- Show the participant the finished film before the public (Rachel Boynton, DOC NYC, 2018).
- Love the people that you film. (Rachel Boynton, DOC NYC, 2018).
- Respect the participants wishes at all times, it’s important to have a positive relationship with the participant – and that they don’t walk away disappointed or unhappy with you
- Always offer the participant food or beverage if the participants are in your space.
- Ensure their facilities (i.e. Toilets, Change-rooms etc.) are acceptable if the participant is in your space.
DOC NYC PRO: Casting Case Studies 2016, streaming video, DOC NYC, New York, viewed INSERT DATE HERE 2019, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bndwq27kkjc>.
Because of the new nature of my work, ethics two, three and four became paramount. I had to love and respect the participants at all times, to maintain a positive relationship to ensure that I would get the best work out of them possible. I was relying on the participants to take my instructions clearly and compose a film worthy piece from whatever they had available. Usually, this was an iPhone, however, which meant the standard quality was (mostly) good. I made sure to inform them well of the project I was creating, what it was for (University, portfolio and possibly film festivals), how I was intending to use their children in my film, and the logistics of how it would all work (i.e. how I ideally picture the videos, what kinds of questions they should ask their kids, where they were to send it, release forms etc.). Finally, I was sure to show each participant the finalised film, or promised to show them it, if they should become interested in seeing it. So while I wasn’t able to film anything directly myself, it’s clear that having an Ethics Charter and ethics in place is important – regardless of the kind of project you are completing. I think the only thing I would add, if I was to write this charter again, is to consider the representation of other peoples stock footage (i.e. credits at the end, the message you are sending by using their footage).