Dr. Bettina Frankham is a practice led researcher in digital media. She has a background of industry experience that spans multiple forms of media including television, radio and web production. As a moving image practitioner she makes creative works that cross into territories of documentary, art and poetry. Her projects have screened at international media arts festivals including Videobrasil International Electronic Art Festival, Stuttgart Filmwinter Festival for Expanded Media, Berlin Asia-Pacific Film Festival, the Artivist Film Festival California and Flickerfest International Short Film Festival Australia. Her research interests include art and documentary intersections, expanded documentary practice and the impact of digital culture on creative media production. She is currently exploring the role of aesthetic experience in knowledge creation and is developing an open, poetic approach to media projects that address issues of social concern. Bettina teaches in digital media arts and production in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UTS.
Vice President, Australian Screen Production, Education and Research Association
Member - Research Sub Committee, Australian Screen Production, Education and Research Association
Can supervise: YES
- Art /documentary intersections
- Expanded documentary practice
- Collaborative models of screen based documentary production
- Micro narratives
- Moving image aesthetics and phenomenology
- Digital media production
- Creative practice based research
Media Arts and Production
- Exploring Media Arts
- Composing the Real
- Online Documentary
Batty, C, Berry, M & Frankham, B 2018, 'Exploring a new era of screen production research: laying foundations for engagement and impact', Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 12, no. 2-3, pp. 162-178.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Writing from the perspective of the peak body for screen production education and research in Australia, ASPERA, the authors report on a research symposium held in 2017 that brought together the academy and industry to explore strategies for what the engagement and impact agenda might mean for the ASPERA community. In this context they explore what engagement looks like and how it can be structured as a pathway to impact; the implications and mechanisms for measuring impact in a variety of contexts; and the possible ramifications of the engagement and impact agenda on how ASPERA practitioner-researchers do their work. A set of complex and competing perspectives are presented that, while on the one hand provide principles and models for best practice, on the other hand question and problematise this new era of research.
Frankham, BL 2016, 'Writing with the small, smart screen: Mobile phones, automated editing and holding on to creative agency', Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, vol. 9, no. 1-2, pp. 47-66.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Media practitioners find themselves in contradictory times. Smartphones that are able to capture highresolution sound and image are facilitating a consistent, abiding and thoughtful practice so that media production is more affordable and ready-at-hand than ever before. At the same time, increasingly sophisticated software is being developed to automate what have previously been considered skilled tasks, such as editing, curating and colour grading. While still an emerging field, these incursions have the potential to pose serious threats to the creative agency of individual moving image-makers. From a first-person practitioner perspective, this article considers how the creative agency of a critically engaged moving-image practice is both enabled and threatened by smartphone production environments. Using the lens of cinécriture, I consider how the full range of production choices becomes part of the expressive tool kit and the importance of making these aspects of creative agency conscious. I argue for the value of conceptual engagement through practice so that the act of participation and making is emphasized, and the significance of human creativity is maintained. Through an examination of the Google Photo Assistant application as an example of a basic automated editing tool, and setting my own approach to moving-image practice in this context, I put forward the case that greater digital literacy is required if practitioners are to maintain satisfactory levels of creative agency.
Frankham, BL 2015, 'Moving beyond evidence: participatory online documentary practice within the poetic framework of cowbird.com', Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy: quarterly journal of media research and resources, no. No. 154, pp. 123-131.
The growth of user contribution as a form of interaction within online documentary projects is causing a shift in the way screen-based documentary is conceived. Viewers become participants, taking on greater agency in forming the experience of the work as they engage by contributing personal responses to the exploration of a subject. Rather than being fixed works with definite beginnings and endings, these online collaborative documentaries operate as portals, encouraging communities to gather around themes, events or areas of interest. While the diversity of contributions promises rich conceptual renderings, a significant challenge lies in the question of how to create a coherent media entity out of aggregated content that may be contradictory, complex and constantly changing. The online storytelling platform Cowbird establishes a social media space that engages a range of aesthetic, structural and organisational techniques to facilitate the sequenciation of diverse sources into multi-vocal chronicles of experience. Cowbird initiatives, such as the Pine Ridge Community Storytelling Project, where individual accounts of life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota were published as a mosaic collection alongside a feature article about the reservation in National Geographic magazine, suggest alternative modes of exchange between old and new media. This article examines the visual, structural and interaction design of Cowbird to explore how this complex and changeful format works to stimulate poetic and affective webs of connection. It is my contention that the system of multilinear engagement employed on Cowbird enables an emergent approach to documentary that can accommodate a nuanced and shifting range of individual responses.
Frankham, B & Caines, C 2019, 'Mobile Reception: Materiality and Locality with Small Screens' in Batty, C, Berry, M, Dooley, K, Frankham, B & Kerrigan, S (eds), The Palgrave Handbook of Screen Production, Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 375-388.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Mobile phone screens have always been intimate displays. Attached to uniquely personal devices that rarely leave our sides and attached to networks that carry our most intimate communications these screens carry with them a boutique set of opportunities and challenges for screen-based production. In this chapter we examine these affordances and restrictions with particular focus on what sets these mobile screens apart from other screens as sites of reception, production and distribution. Particularly we focus on the materialities of the devices, the key aspects of the locative and the nature of mobile devices as networked screens. We draw on exemplars from mobile based media art productions that have made sophisticated use of these properties in ways that distinguish the mobile screen work as a modality with its own language, aesthetic rules and creative production strategies. In these examples we are looking at how media artists are continuing a tradition of experimentation with the materiality of new mediums and how this contributes to developing the language of the medium. We examine how the particular properties of the mobile screen influence the type of content that is produced. From the nature of the stories that sit well in the medium to the type of physical and virtual interaction that distinguish these screens from other networked screens.
Batty, C & Taylor, S 2019, 'Teaching Screenwriting Through Script Development: Looking Beyond the Screenplay' in Batty, C, Berry, M, Dooley, K, Frankham, B & Kerrigan, S (eds), The Palgrave Handbook of Screen Production, Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 459-472.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This chapter focuses on screenwriting pedagogy through the lens of script development, asking what might be gleaned from industry that helps students to learn about aspects of writing for the screen beyond the screenplay itself. In other words, is script development a more viable pedagogy for teaching and learning the craft of screenwriting, one that exposes students to the wider world of industry and career ‘success’ than merely focusing on the writing of a script? The chapter draws on a dataset of 14 interviews with industry professionals from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. The interviewees have worked in a variety of roles in the screen industry across these countries, including as screenwriters, script consultants, script editors, story editors and storyline writers; and as screenwriting educators in universities, colleges and private training and consultancy settings. They represent a rich and diverse dataset for the discovery of new insights into what this chapter argues could be an important and distinctive screenwriting pedagogy.
Sergi, M & Batty, C 2019, 'Understanding the Underlying Principles of the Short Film' in Batty, C, Berry, M, Dooley, K, Frankham, B & Kerrigan, S (eds), The Palgrave Handbook of Screen Production, Springer, Germany, pp. 49-60.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This chapter explores the types of story possible within short films, and how often there can be confusion and uncertainty, particularly amongst student filmmakers, about what a short film really is. In order to better understand this, this chapter outlines a series of underlying principles about short film story design that, we argue, are integral to the initial stages of conceiving such films. Before script development takes place, we argue that realistic thinking about what the short film can deliver in terms of story, characters, scope and dramatic question, will result in a screen work that is not only feasible for student filmmakers to produce, but is also more likely to increase an audience’s emotional engagement with the film. Drawing on a range of multi-award-winning contemporary short films to illustrate these principles, we discuss the relationship between content and form in this genre, leading to a better understanding of the parameters within which a student filmmaker might work. While not presenting these parameters as strict and unbreakable, we argue that knowing what has worked well for others, and what audiences expect from the short film form, provides a solid basis from which to begin conceptualising a short film.
Frankham, BL 2018, 'Documentary, Instructions, and Experiences of Place' in Miles, A (ed), Digital Media and Documentary Antipodean Approaches, Palgrave Pivot, Cham, pp. 29-47.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This chapter describes the concept for a documentary that is also an instruction-based artwork. As a mobile, site-specific, and screen-based locative project the intention is that the embodied experience of the digital content is emphasised, setting up a resonance between content, instructions, the user and the real world. The objective of this method is to guide the audience as a participant through a series of directed poetic experiences to provoke situated knowledges about place and to consider other perspectives.
Frankham, BL 2018, 'Fragments, Form and Photogénie: Using Practice to Research the Intersectional Work of Poetic Documentary' in Batty, C & kerrigan, S (eds), Screen Production Research: Creative Practice as a Mode of Enquiry, Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, pp. 177-194.View/Download from: Publisher's site
As creators of media works defined by a close relationship with the real, a significant question for documentary practitioners is how to respond to the complexity of reality. Theories of spectator embodiment suggest opportunities to address these conditions through both the content and form of documentary work. Building on Epstein’s photogénie and Marks’s tactile epistemologies, this chapter examines a poetic approach to documentary production as one way to activate diverse knowledges that go beyond what can be expressed verbally. Using examples from the production of the short documentary, How Many Ways to Say You? this chapter suggests that the intersectional methodology of an open, poetic approach to documentary can provoke diverse knowledges for makers and spectators that may address our fragile and changeful context.
Ferris, G, Dooley, K, Bender, S, Frankham, B, Munt, A & Schlesser, M 2019, 'Immersive 360-degree media: Creative practice and research inside and outside of the classroom', ASPERA 2019 CONFERENCE: Making, Learning, Thinking: Screen and Broadcast Education and Research, AFTRS.
Frankham, BL 2012, 'A poetry of lists: heuristic approaches to complexity and ambivalence', Visible Evidence XIX, Australian National University, Canberra.
In a time of data proliferation and exponential growth in ways to frame information, montage can be seen as both a metaphor and a method for organising complexity. However, as much as some audiences may at first positively respond to clear narratives and black and white proclamations, higher levels of media literacy means that critique and suspicion can be quickly trained on overt manipulation. Faced with the ubiquity of screens and media devices there is a restlessness stirring against didactic structuring modes. At the same time there is an observable shift to heuristic approaches. This paper reflects on the application of the list as a formal device in documentary practice. While there is still a need for authorship that engages with ideas and assists in organising the world for representation, an open, exploratory approach can access the potential for encouraging more active audience engagement, a respect for audience agency and the stimulation of ongoing conversations. Rather than an attempt to achieve an exhaustive documentation that seems aligned with attempts to reproduce the world, the process becomes more akin to curating experiences and aesthetic material from the world from an openly subjective position that formulates possible ways to make sense of it. As a bounded, limited form that refers to the etcetera of the field beyond the chosen items, the list can activate individual processes of synthesis and provide the means for documentary to embrace fragmentation, provisionality and complexity. Through examples from the multiscreen installation work Disorient by Fiona Tan and her own project, How many ways to say you, Bettina considers some of the implications of a heuristic and poetic documentary practice.
Frankham, BL 2012, 'Documentary and the cinematic thought machine', Expanded Documentary Symposium, University of Wollongong.
Documentary practice is a way to think the world. It can be a formulating, a historicising, a narrativising of experience that is otherwise chaotic and confusing. However there are alternative ways of knowing that come through lateral approaches, patience, perhaps even intuition. There can be a sense of accumulating understanding that speaks of an experiential kind of knowing that cannot be articulated or contained in a few rhetorical dot points. It is an approach where the sense of spending time and being open to 'nothing' happening and seeing where that might lead is valued as part of the process of coming to know. My interest lies in how an artistic practice can shift the work of documentary from a didacticism that says, 'I know all about this, come and listen to my wise words' towards an ongoing conversation. While the notion of an 'art work' can have the effect of elevating the artist and the work above the ordinary, the openness of expression permits room for the audience to bring their own understandings to bear on the issues under consideration with the attendant possibility for greater and more deeply experienced impact. In the admission of uncertainty and the acknowledgement of complexity, the agency of the audience and their ability to know something in multiple ways is mobilised.
Frankham, BL 2011, 'Evidentiary to experiential: a poetic approach to documentary', Expanding Documentary 2011: Proceedings of the VIIIth Biennial Conference, Expanding Documentary, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.
At the edge of documentary practice, intersecting with territories of audio-visual media art, a poetic approach to documentary can work with aesthetic techniques to create spaces for pause and contemplation. However, debates around documentary aesthetics and the impact of formal choices upon issues of truthfulness and authenticity frequently results in the documentary value of poetic work being questioned. Fears of manipulation in the creation of beautiful truths, and the implied untrustworthiness of a poetic approach has seen ascetic responses such as direct cinema and observational practice favoured as tactics to maintaining authenticity. A tension between a desire for the real and a desire for the poetic is created. And yet, the two arent necessarily contradictory: desire for the real can extend, beyond faithful re-presentation of the world, into the domain of the senses and emotion. While there is a smooth, and often poetic, beauty in high definition renderings of the world, a low resolution, partial rendition can generate an affective yearning that appears to make use of the representational gaps in `poor quality material. When indexical and iconic bonds in relationships to the real are loosened through formal experimentation, alternative understandings of truth can come to the fore. The project can shift from the accretion of evidence to an exploration of experience and subjectivity. Through analysis of two projects that work in the borderlands between art and documentary this paper explores the possibilities of aesthetic experience as a means to explore concepts and forge audience connections within a documentary framework. Using examples from my own creative practice I consider the implications of applying techniques of visual abstraction, experimental soundtrack and fragmented editing in works that adopt a poetic approach to documentary.
Frankham, BL 2010, 'Contemplations of place - the engaging spaces of poetic documentary', Film History Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, Film History Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, FHAANZ, University of New South Wales.
Frankham, BL 2015, 'How many ways to say you?', ASPERA, Sightlines Journal.
A short poetic video documentary using footage captured while travelling through Cambodia. The video is structured around a range of Khmer words that are used in place of the pronoun you, and engages with a form of image driven, essayistic reflection on ideas of interpersonal relationship, history, memory and representation.