StoryLab: Developing innovative skills training for democratised film industries in developing countries

Erik Knudsen's research is underpinned by a strong belief in the importance of stories and storytelling.

Knudsen's research has focused on exploring independence in filmmaking and the impact that the development of confident personal voices can have on the meaningful transformations of people, cultures and economies.

StoryLab is a skills training research initiative to develop the creative voices of participants, in pursuit of meaningful cultural contributions and employment opportunities. Over 90 independent and citizen filmmakers in Malaysia, Ghana, Colombia and California were enabled and empowered through the innovative StoryLab skills training research initiative. This initiative aims to develop the creative voices of its participants. This enabled them to pursue meaningful cultural contributions and employment opportunities within the growing democratised cultural and professional moving-image sectors. This unique transnational collaboration across five continents has led to profound transformations in the way people come up with ideas and has enabled new co-development and production partnerships and enhanced visual storytelling skills.

Better engagement with local cultural preservation and deeper awareness of the opportunities of narrative filmmaking, has led to the enhancement of the voices of independent and marginalised communities. This has addressed the UN's Sustainable Development Goals of Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth and Reduced Inequalities. The most compelling evidence of the international impact that StoryLab has had on its participants is evidenced in the scripts and films that they have made and in the documentaries that have been made about the projects. These include ‘Proowa (Yucca)’ a Chimila Tribe film and ‘The Box of Silence’ an Ibagué Youth Film produced by participants in StoryLab Colombia 2019 workshops. 

"For the Chimila indigenous community it is very important to be recognised, because due to the internal Colombia conflict, we were banished and the culture is about to disappear. That's why for us these spaces like StoryLab let the world and the Western society to know that the Chimila indigenous reservation still exists and is not lost."

Participant from Columbia
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Academic expertise

Professor Erik Knudsen
Faculty Director
School of Arts and Media

Erik is a filmmaker, professor of media practice and Director of Research. His research revolves around cinematic story and narratives. Erik leads creative practice research and supervises PhD students in the field. He publishes filmmaking practice research and runs a large AHRC …