Culinary Practices in Shared Kitchens
a Collaborative Ethnobotanical Film Project

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Working Plan

There are four stages of this project, which will overlap to a considerable degree:
  1. Recruitment and Consultation:

    Because this project is essentially collaborative in nature, the first key part involves gathering together a group of researchers. A couple of EWC residents who are doctoral candidates in ethnobotany have expressed interest in something like this, and I think that others in Anthropology, Geography, and other departments will be interested in joining. Once an initial proposal has been reviewed, the project can be publicized through a website, flyers, presentations and word-of-mouth. Participants will be sought at two levels, as either fully involved collaborators (participant-filmmakers), or as consultants (culinary practitioners) who are willing to demonstrate and discuss their culinary practices.

    While organizing participants I will also contact people and institutions within the community to see whether they are interested in participating or advising. These may include faculty within several UH departments, the Language Documentation Project, and the East-West Center itself. At this point I will also make sure that the project has funding to cover anticipated needs. I may investigate whether it is possible to set up a training program with the Academy for Creative Media, the UH Communications Department, or ‘Ōlelo Community Television, which could give us access to some of the equipment and facilities these institutions have.

  2. Training and Preparation:

    I have several times in the past presented workshops on ethnobotanical filmmaking, which have run between two and five hours. Due to the short time of these events, participants have had a limited opportunity to get experience with the equipment. This project is designed to redress this problem by continuing training throughout the project in the form of a workgroup which will allow participants to engage with the activities as we progress and work together to develop skills and a sense of the field. Although I will continue to be present during filming sessions throughout the project, as skills develop I will encourage collaborators to increasingly control the production.

    As a group of collaborators assembles and training gets underway, we will be able to reassess the goals and methodology of the project to make sure that areas of interest to all the participants have been included. This may involve refinement of this working plan as well.

  3. Filming

    Once we have gathered together a team and done some initial work on the methods, we will begin filming interviews with other EWC residents. I anticipate that this stage of the project will take several months, since we will need to work at the convenience of consultants and as time allows for the collaborators. I expect that we will do a major interview (kitchen presentation) two or three times a month, which will involve several hours of work from a team of collaborators. We will probably need to do a couple of individual interviews every week as well, which will be easier to film. Once we have filmed a couple of the major interviews, we will begin working on the next stage, so we will have a chance to apply anything we learn in the process to the later interviews.

  4. Editing and Analysis

    The final stage of the project will be the assemblage and analysis of material, and the process of editing it into presentations. Because this stage will be used as a training tool, an initial set of presentations will follow a fairly structured script. Probably we will work on extracting a 10-15 mintue "story" of a particular food or set of foods from each of the food events we filmed, building the narrative by interweaving the event footage, individual interviews, and b-roll. Where possible we will produce parallel sequences in multiple languages. Once collaborators have acquired editing skills they may develop other presentations out of the material.

    I plan to use the material to examine the ways in which discourses of food are built in ongoing interaction. This will entail applying analytic techniques from traditions of conversation, discourse, and narrative analysis. I hope to find sequences that illustrate the usefulness of this approach, and include them in a video presentation about food discourse.

    Digital technology provides not only new means of creating film, but also new means of presenting it, allowing viewers to customize their experience through a selection of options. Little, beyond the choice of languages, has yet been made of these possibilites, but I think there is room for innovation and I hope that collecting together materials and collaborators will encourage creative exploration of this technology.

David Strauch | P.O. Box 62223 | Honolulu, HI 96839
Revised 20 Nov 2006

Overview | Questions | Perspectives | Methods | Participation | Plan | Site