Yesterday I attended a guest lecture at the University of Salford delivered by Dr Greg Elmer. Greg is Bell Globemedia Research Chair and Director of the Infoscape Research Lab at Ryerson University in Toronto. The thought provoking lecture was entitled “Open Source Video: Testing The Limits of Participatory Media Making”.

Greg talked about a project he is currently working on with colleagues to investigate the use of emerging collaborative video production tools (in this case Open Source Cinema – which also brought us the award winning RIP! A Remix Manifesto) and the potential to use these to produce a ‘crowd sourced’, organic documentary.

The subject matter for the documentary has been inspired by a recent book written by Greg and Professor Andy OpelPreempting Dissent – The Politics of An Inevitable Future‘ which looks at the nature of surveillance and governance in the wake of the ‘War on Terror.’

The project asks people to contribute to a documentary*, ‘Preempting Dissent – Open Sourcing Secrecy’, by uploading content, remixing it, mashing it up as well as help shape the nature of the ‘story’ arc. Although Greg and co. plan to provide the names of six chapters for the film this will also evolve as the project continues.

The outcome of the project will be a feature length documentary and an archive of content that can be utilised/remixed by others to produce new work.

I will be interested to see the final film although I think it is the process of production that is most interesting here. How elements of social media are being used for the construction of art (this more traditional media form in the nature of a documentary), for looking at questions of who participates or the type of content people are prepared to supply, as well as the implications for the future of documentary film making.

*Those that wish to participate in the project can do so at

Image c/o Matzuda licensed under Creative Commons.