Infusing biography with the personal: writing Rufus Stone
Purpose A recent four-year research project entitled, “Gay and Pleasant Land?—a study about positioning, ageing and gay life in rural South West England and Wales” took place as part of the Research Councils UK funded New Dynamics of Ageing Programme on ageing in 21st Century Britain. The key output of this effort was the short professionally made, award winning film, Rufus Stone. This article unpacks the evolution of creating the film script, with a particular emphasis on the author’s relationship with the biographies, the filmmaking process and, indeed, his own story. Approach Through first person narrative and textural bricolage, the author recounts the processes that went into writing the background, treatment and working script for the film. This included sifting through copious data, story meetings, writing back story and collaboration with the film’s director. In the final analysis, the author was dependent on auto-ethnography to bring the biographies of others to the screen. Findings Arts-based collaborative efforts require versatility and experimentation in approaches and a willingness to communicate across disciplines. Knowing when to ‘let go’ in partnerships is key to this process. Originality/value The article responds to many of the issues, concerns and questions that have arisen at academic screenings of the film. It provides a valuable starting point for others interested in experimenting with arts-based dissemination of research findings. The originality of the use of auto-ethnography itself to report on this process is consistent with the principles of Performative Social Science, on which the project’s dissemination is based.
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