[ISEA2011] Paper: Jodi Nelson – Digital Technologies, Social Media and Emerging Trends In Film Production Methodologies


My research is being conducted through a practice-led documentary film project, web platform and published case study.  I am interested primarily in how the new paradigm shifts in digital technology and the democratization of the filmmaking process allow filmmakers to connect to an ‘expert’ global niche audience with more immediacy through the internet, engaging virtual communities, crowd funding and fan building initiatives and a variety of social media landscapes. Specifically, what access and resources are available and how to best exploit this new participatory relationship to create art? What challenges lie ahead for feminism and activism in the virtual space?

The question for [film] makers, consumers and scholars of moving images are what distinguishes documentary only from documentary made for
other channels, and whether the internet has any distinct, useful or unique characteristics that offer documentary anything more than just another means of distribution. (Birchall, p.279)

Questions being examined are:

  1. How does this position the filmmaker as the ‘sole’ auteur/creator in this new method of film creation, production, distribution and financing?, 2) What are the advantages and/or the disadvantages to this new approach?,
  2. What contributions can an ‘expert’ group of virtual strangers, via a niche audience, provide to support the filmmaker and the film’s contextual goals and content?, and
  3. What sacrifices must be made by the filmmaker in creating a project in this new way?

In the film project entitled: ‘Single Girl in a Virtual World: What does a 21st Century Feminist Look Like?’ , engages a global audience of online fans, friends and followers, asking these virtual strangers to participate in the production, creation and financing of the film. Utilizing social networks, crowd funding initiatives, web blogs, viral video, second life, flash mobs, virtual chat interaction and traditional modes of documentary practice, the aim is to create a documentary film that exemplifies feminism in its profoundly new image.

Feminist documentary filmmaker, Barbara Halpern Martineau articulates…‘by empowering ordinary people to speak as experts, they question the basic assumption of dominant ideology, that only those already in power, those who have a stake in defending the status quo, are entitled to speak as if they know something. (Juhasz, p.304)


  1. Juhasz, A. (2008) ‘Documentary on YouTube: The failure of the direct cinema of slogan’ in T. Austin and W. De Jong (ed), “Rethinking Documentary”: New Perspectives, New Practices. New York, NY: University Press McGraw-Hill
  2. Birchall, D. (2008) ‘Online Documentary’ in T. Austin and W. de Jong (ed), “Rethinking Documentary”: New Perspectives, New Practices. New York, NY: University Press McGraw-Hill Education.
  • Jodi Nelson has an extremely diverse professional entertainment background, extensive training and experience in Acting (theatre/film/television), film production (both narrative fiction and documentary) and music.  She is actively involved in the arts and entertainment industry as an accomplished Artist, Actor, Writer, Filmmaker and Musician. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Critical & Creative Practices in Film and Media Studies at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England focusing on Digital technology, Social media and the emerging alternative Documentary film production methodologies. jodinelson.com  Video:

    Single Girl in a Virtual World: The Trailer

Full text (PDF)  p. 1771-1777