This is a guest post by Claire Mitchell, NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow, Speech and Language Therapist. Claire recently won the Postgraduate Summer Research Showcase short film competition.
My first thought about the Postgraduate Summer Research Showcase Short Film competition was, “well there’s no way I’m making a video!” shortly followed by “I wonder what a video of my research would look like…” It took me a lot of thinking time and a lot of stick men sketches to step away from telling everyone the intricate detail of my research. It is hard to leave the detail behind and think about what is meaningful to people outside your specialist area. What a great opportunity the competition was to throw it all up in the air and think about one key message; it presented a creative moment that I really enjoyed and that I wasn’t expecting at all.
Interestingly my video changed a lot from the first round but the key message that I had developed stayed the same. Working with Alys Kay was a great experience as she had a different perspective of how to get the message across. My initial video was all about me! I brought in my experience as a clinician and how it had led me to do the research I am doing. However, Alys was able to tease out that actually the only reason I had developed my research idea was because of my patients, and their ideas and feedback, which was spot on!
So the final video was much more from the patient perspective, which I was delighted with as that is really where my study originated. I am lucky to have a fabulous patient advisor involved in my study who is a natural in front of the camera, and her input was absolutely key to my video. Filming the video was harder work than expected, the logistics of 3 different settings, coordinating my clinical colleagues and patient advisor took some serious planning and a lie down in a darkened room at the end of the day.
The experience of making this video has been great in so many ways and when I watched the video at the PSRS I felt a real sense of achievement. It certainly helps you to explain your research to others, in an easy to understand way, focussing on what’s important. It also reminds you, as the researcher, why you are doing what you are doing, which in the lonely life of a PhD student is no bad thing!
I would absolutely recommend other researchers to get involved in the short film competition. It was an opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and do something creative and different. Being able to think about your research story and planning out how to present that message through film and having the support of Alys to develop, in my case stick men and photos, into something meaningful is a brilliant opportunity.
Now watch the final video: