The Covid-19 outbreak has made a serious impact on many vulnerable populations and revealed social justice issues (Lowell et al., 2022; Meda & Chitiyo, 2022). Embodying diversity and inclusivity in education is vital at this critical moment. Previous studies have suggested that arts-based practices in the classroom contribute to cultivating young people’s active and critical thinking skills and raising their awareness of diversity and inclusivity (Barone & Eisner, 2012; Leavy, 2020; Mulvihill & Swaminathan, 2020). This blog post introduces collaborative filmmaking as an arts-based approach and presents its potential.
In June 2021, I started a collaborative filmmaking project with twelve university students in Kumamoto, Japan. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movements around the world, they decided ‘colourful’ as a movie theme. Working together for eight months resulted in the production of a film titled Colourful, bilingual in English and Japanese. It is a compilation of video clips taken by the student filmmakers respectively. The completed film shows the diversity of the production team; the term ‘colourful’ is interpreted differently and takes various forms (see figure 1).
Figure 1: Twelve video clips in order
In addition to arranging the twelve video clips in order, the production team carefully structured the film and composed the following script (see figure 2).
Figure 2: The film’s script and structure
One of the student filmmakers, Mia, clarifies what the collaboratively created film intends to tell the viewers:
Instead of thinking in fixed ways, try looking at the world from a broader perspective. There are countless colours in the world. In the same way, each of us living on the earth has different qualities.
Containing the message as such, Colourful invites the viewers to be away from fixed ideas and see what is taken for granted from a different angle.
This project shows some possibilities of collaborative filmmaking in the classroom. First, it increases awareness of diversity within the production team. This is supported by Emma’s observation:
Throughout the making of the film, I was able to hear each member’s video, their thoughts and concepts behind it, and their ideas for the structure of the videos. We realised that this was exactly the ‘colourful’ we wanted to express in this film, that is, the diversity of individuals.
Second, collaborative filmmaking yields the affirmation and reaffirmation of diversity in the world. This is evident in Smith’s reflection:
There are many colourful things in the world. For example, there are many diversities of human races, ways of life, ways of thinking, human values and so on. These are like colourful things. By regarding diversity as colourful things, I think we need to acknowledge each other.
Lastly, the recognition, affirmation and reaffirmation of diversity elevates students’ thinking, as Bekira’s comments highlight:
I have learned different points of view from the group movie project. Especially, everyone took a variety of videos about ‘colourful’ and they showed me the differences of ideas. Their keywords of their videos were great, and their words and videos made me think about the importance of colours more deeply.
In this way, collaborative filmmaking enhances students’ active and critical thinking regarding diversity and inclusivity in their daily lives and the world. Putting this arts-based approach into practice in the classroom urges both teachers and students to do their utmost. Teachers are required to become flexible facilitators and create a positive atmosphere to promote students’ autonomy. Student filmmakers need to move out of the comfort zone and be attentive to different views, while voicing their opinions. When the efforts of teachers and those of students converge, the classroom turns into a space where diversity and inclusivity are embodied.
Barone, T., & Eisner, E. W. (2012). Arts based research. Sage.
Hara, H. (Executive Producer). (2022). Colourful [Film]. The Studio Twelve Stories. https://youtu.be/XOfesFYHClg
Leavy, P. (2020). Method meets art: Arts-based research practice (3rd ed.). The Guilford Press.
Lowell, W., Dickerson, S., Gassman-Pines, A., Gifford, E., & Rangel, M. (2022, August 18). Racial disparities in COVID-19 case positivity and social context: The role of housing, neighborhood, and health insurance. Housing Policy Debate, 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511482.2022.2104336
Meda, L., & Chitiyo, J. (2022). Introducing the road to inclusion during the COVID-19 global pandemic. In L. Meda & J. Chitiyo (Eds.), Inclusive pedagogical practices amidst a global pandemic: Issues and perspectives around the globe (pp. 1–5). Springer.
Mulvihill, T. M., & Swaminathan, R. (2020). Arts-based educational research and qualitative inquiry: Walking the path. Routledge.