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Monks of Wat Bo

This is a short Cinema Verite film, that is made from archived footage, I recorded in April 2015. It is going back to the bedrock of cinema verity and documentary film-making, free handling, no fancy steady cam. The rules are so established in our minds, there are no steady shots, clean editing and focus have been abandoned. It is about experiencing it for what it is, and being emplaced within the environment, through a sensory experience

What does it mean to be a Monk in the 21st Century? Monks in todays world, somewhat differ from the usual stereotype of a bald man, sitting under a Bodhi tree meditating. He is now more connected than ever. And this is something that has only ever interested me in photographic sense. Visiting Buddhist temples and seeing such religious practices is a sensory experience in itself. This is not something that can be shared fully through just a photograph. And that is where sensory ethnography comes in.


Sound played a huge part in the creative process to stimulate the senses. The amplitude and gain increases slowly throughout the piece and the chant that the monks are producing, is hypnotic in its tone.

When I compare all of the films, I have created this term, the monks still sits as my strongest piece. I feel this is more, to do with the environment I was in. The sounds of the chant and the image submersion the audience gets when watching this.

All of the monks, seem to have one identity, which is of course the orange robe & shaved head. The only thing that sets them apart is their age. The original monk we see banging the drum in the first shot, becomes lost in the one identity of a monk, when all the monks come together to pray.

When I have played the film to an audience, I have made sure that they are sitting in a dark room, with either head phones on or the sound turned up. I want them to be totally submerged in the experience of watching it. For me as a photographer I have never taken away the actual physical moment or ambience of the place, as photographs don’t allow for this.

This is where the photograph comes to life, and the audience members are viewing a place, feeling the sounds as well as hearing them. I want the audience to leave the film, feeling calm, like they have had an new experience and been privy to something special.