Nurturing Hope: Capturing Mental Illness on Video, the Caregiver’s Role

By Eileen Lavranos.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 27, 2014 $US5.00

This study is of a creative production where documentary modes as defined by Nichols (1991) are used to portray lived experience, the aim being to produce an art work that can contribute to human experience and understanding. This paper examines the process of how, working ethically, sensitive information can be captured through interviews by using an approach that is essentially heuristic. Clark Moustakas (1990) interprets the heuristic search as one that challenges and confronts the researcher in understanding an issue and demands a persistent approach. In supporting the process of film making, the project goals might be reprioritized and changed in production, as a project’s content and goal may change in the evolving work and as new issues emerge as a result of the work in progress (Scrivener, 2000). The interviewing method is discussed using excerpts from the documentary, which tell the stories of family caregivers who talk about their experiences of being a caregiver for a family member who has a mental illness. As a documentary maker, I am also a caregiver of someone who has a mental illness, which has given me an insider view of the difficulties families go through. I have collaborated with a director of photography and have edited the narratives. Working as a researcher and documentary maker alone on this project has allowed for flexibility in deciding when and how to film situations. Disclosing my role as a family caregiver has contributed to participants trusting me with their stories. Working with ethically sensitive information and disclosing it to a wider public view has been possible because collaboration was created, showing that if participants trust a documentary maker, they are willing to speak truthfully and openly about experiences.

Keywords: Documentary, Mental Illness, Disability, Family Caregivers, Heuristics

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 8, Issue 2, August 2014, pp.55-63. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 27, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 395.578KB)).

Eileen Lavranos

Senior Lecturer, Television and Screen Production, School of Communication Studies, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, North Island, New Zealand

Eileen Lavranos is a senior lecturer in television and screen production at Auckland University of Technology, Auckland. I worked for many years as a director in theatre, working in mainstream theatres as well as theatre in education and children’s theatre in South Africa. I later moved into video production as an independent director and combined this with community theatre. I have worked as a writer/director for many community projects such as AIDs education and voter education, using theatre as a way to communicate concepts to different ethnic communities. I am a doctoral candidate with a special interest in the representation of mental health issues in screen media.