Becoming Animal


Emma Davie
University of Edinburgh


Portfolio, Practice Based, film, documentary, Grand Teton National Park, nature


Becoming Animal is a feature documentary film, co-directed by Emma Davie and Peter Mettler which set out to challenge the traditional nature documentary and its structure. This film is set in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, over the course of a journey with cult writer and eco-philosopher David Abram. The documentary was filmed and edited over a 4 year period from 2014 to 2018. The aim was to find a different relationship between the viewer and ‘nature’ as represented on film: one which used the tools of cinema to explore the act of observation itself. The research objectives centered on the following questions:
• How can we use documentary film to go beyond an anthropocentric worldview?
• Can film give an insight into how the current environmental crisis might be rooted in a crisis of perception which has evolved over time in how we see ‘nature’?
• How can the documentary essay form be combined with a more experiential, immersive aesthetic to involve an audience in a sensorial understanding of the themes of the film?
The film emerged from a rigorous process of interdisciplinary research involving collaborations across many disciplines ranging from philosophy, eco-phenomenology, to vision mixing. It involved bringing together disciplines which describe the world in radically different ways: the literary, philosophical writing of Abram was to meet the experimental cinematography and directing style of Davie and Mettler whose work explores the immersive characteristic of cinema and its ability to re-create a haptic of sense of experience. It attempted to create a somatic experience for an audience which also included an awareness of the act of looking at representations of nature on film.

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30 May 2024


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.