Developing ethical guidelines for documentary filmmakers working with the elderly
This thesis sets out to create some ethical guidelines for those wishing to make a documentary film involving the elderly. To that end it explores the ethical attitudes of four documentary filmmakers who have experience in making a film involving the elderly. The aim of this approach was to gauge whether or not the filmmakers felt that elderly subjects required special ethical consideration during the filmmaking process in comparison to younger subjects. To discover the filmmaker’s attitudes, semi-structured interviews were carried out using the visual communication app Skype. All interviews were recorded for audio and lasted around 40 – 50 minutes. Once completed, the interviews were transcribed and analysed. While all four filmmakers reported that there were ethical problems that arose when working with elderly subjects, no consensus was reached as to the dominant issue or issues that needed to be considered. However each did highlight at least one area that they felt was ethically challenging and required careful and cautious consideration, for example – obtaining consent or handling the death of a subject. A set of ethical guidelines for those wishing to film the elderly was developed on the basis of the interviews conducted and the experience of the author in making the film “Me Myself and IRobi”, the creative component of this thesis. This is a first step into an area previously rarely explored in the literature in the hope that it may provide a basis for further academic work. It also sets out to inform other filmmakers making a documentary involving the elderly of the ethical issues they may need to consider.
Advisor: Johnston, Ross
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Zoology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: elderly documentary film ethics; documentary film ethics; elderly documentary film; documentary; elderly; film
Research Type: Thesis