Collaborative Filmmaking with Traditional Performers in Highland Java: A Practice-Based PhD Thesis

Imanda, Tito. 2019. Collaborative Filmmaking with Traditional Performers in Highland Java: A Practice-Based PhD Thesis. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Collaborative Filmmaking with Traditional Performers in Highland Java: A Practice-Based PhD Thesis)
MED_thesis_ImandaT_2019.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (20MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis analyzes the process of collaboration with a Javanese traditional
performance group in adapting their work to film. The project has both practical
and research goals. The practical goal is to collaborate with a traditional
performance group from a rural area, and help facilitate their exploration of a new
medium and to express themselves through film. The research goal of this project is
to record, understand and analyze the process, while laying the groundwork for
further collaborations and research in other contexts and with different
communities. The underlying research question for this thesis is: “how does
collaboration contribute and facilitate the group’s adaptation of its aesthetics and
artistic expression to film?”

To answer that question, it is important to first understand the group itself as local
collaborators, including their members, their identities, their problems and needs,
and the role of other villagers. The thesis establishes that the group has a long
tradition and history, particularly in performance arts, and the village community is
constantly in tension with ongoing social, political, and ecological changes, which
often provide inspiration for the themes and contents of their films. The next aim is
to understand the development of collaboration between the rural farmer-artists and
their urban filmmaker-academic collaborators: the backbone of this thesis. We can
see here that building “common ground” between collaborators from different
contexts is a long and challenging process. Another important theme of the thesis is
exploration of the adaptation process of performance arts to film, and how the years
of collaboration shapes this process and its products. Here we can see that it is
specific cultural values –not lack of access or sophistication– that drive the Tjipta
Boedaja dancers towards particular film production methods as well as particular
messages. When we look closely at the aesthetics of the films produced, we
observed how they represent the group’s and the village’s culture, and the
members’ and the villagers’ identities as well as the new set of film aesthetics that
emerged from the collaboration. The local collaborators relate their techniques and
approaches to storytelling to the varieties of local performances. Film in this
context is largely determined by the complexities of the locale and its aesthetics and
audience preferences. Finally, the project works with the group’s latest film
productions, exploring what the collaborators had learned from the long
collaboration process, adaptation of filmmaking methods, and establishment of film
aesthetics. At this point, the thesis offers empirical confirmation that the
filmmaking collaboration between two factions from different backgrounds must
establish trust, build complex insights into all the collaborators’ cultures and power
relations, and foster willingness for intensive investigation of the most salient local
aesthetics and messages possible.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

Author affiliation: Badan Perfilman Indonesia (The Indonesian Film Board), 2017-2020.


Collaborative Filmmaking, Adaptation to Film

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


30 April 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 May 2019 13:57

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)