An Edge Hill academic spoke at the Barbican as part of a season discussing a “game-changing” era in UK television.
The Television Will Be Revolutionised: Channel 4 and the 1982 Workshop Declaration examined the way the channel set up with a remit to provide innovative broadcasting that challenged the mainstream, agreed to fund and screen films from ‘alternative film and video collectives’ known as workshops.
The season at the Barbican will feature and discuss oppositional films from Channel 4’s first decade, described as a radical, game-changing era that opened doors for diverse voices in cinemas and British television.
Roger Shannon, Professor of Film and Television, spoke at the panel event which preceded the screening of Acceptable Levels on September 13th. This film was the first feature to be made under the Workshop Declarations. The talk includes extracts from workshop productions and is chaired by Andy Robson who is currently researching the workshop movement.
The panel also included Ellin Hare (Amber Films), Stewart Mackinnon (Trade Films), Menelik Shabazz (Ceddo Film and Video Workshop) and Caroline Spry (Sheffield Film Co-Op and Channel 4), who discuss the significance of the Workshop Declaration and its long-term impact on independent filmmaking.
Roger said: “It’s a very timely moment for the UK wide Film Workshop movement of the late ‘70s to late ‘80s to be discussed and celebrated in this way at London’s Barbican.
“This efflorescence of radical film making (in both content and form) enabled a rich diversity of voices to be aired on TV and cinema screens, challenging the media’s hitherto socially narrow depiction.
“At the Barbican event, I talked about the approach of Birmingham Film and Video
Workshop, of which I was founding Producer and Co-coordinator in 1979, especially its participatory mode of development and production in collaborating with underrepresented communities and cultures in Birmingham and the West Midlands on shorts, feature films, documentaries and television series.”
He also drew on his research on the legacy of the Birmingham Film and Video Workshop which has fed directly into the curation and digitization of previously neglected productions from this pioneering collective – which are now available for public exhibition at arts centres, cinemas, galleries and festivals.