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Conference Papers

Accounting for creativity: British producers, British screens. A two-day conference reassessing the creative role of the producer 19-20 April 2011, Arnolfini, Bristol.

Balcon’s folly: the manufacture and assessment of 'Man of Aran'
Andrew Thomas Croft

Produced by
Michael Balcon and directed by Robert J. Flaherty for Gainsborough Pictures, Man of Aran (1934) is a product of an unconventional approach to cinema, both uncharacteristic of its producer and entirely characteristic of its director. Michael Balcon was a commercially-minded producer, who had attracted audiences and revenues through the recruitment and promotion of foreign and domestic actors such as Betty Compson and Ivor Novello, the nurturing of talented film technicians such as Alfred Hitchcock. Moreover, Balcon had bolstered development of the British film industry by forging close working arrangements with continental European production houses and leading film industry figures at home and abroad. Notably, Balcon had established links in Germany, where Hitchcock and others benefitted from the utilisation of advanced facilities and from the observation and deployment of innovative film practices. Robert Flaherty, on the other hand, was a maverick. Flaherty made his first full feature documentary film, Nanook of the North (1922), when he was thirty-six years old. Before committing himself to a career in film, Flaherty had been a prospector, a surveyor, and an explorer, making four expeditions between 1910 and 1916 to the sub-Arctic regions of the Hudson Bay. Flaherty had filmed locations on two of these expeditions, to Baffin Land in 1913-1914, and to the Belcher Islands in 1915, as a side-line to help defray the costs of the expeditions. The 30,000 feet of film he took to Toronto to edit was lost in a fire. Nonetheless, the experience of film photography inspired Flaherty to become seriously involved in film-making - and in June 1920 Flaherty travelled to Hudson Bay with 75,000 feet of film stock, a Haulberg electric light plant and projector, two Akeley cameras, and a printing machine to make prints of exposed film on location. It was whilst filming in Hudson Bay that Flaherty met an Eskimo called Nanook.1

From an exploration of cultures to a culture of cinema
Flaherty’s adventures before his career in film appear to have profoundly influenced his development as a filmmaker. The expeditions that brought Flaherty into contact with the Eskimo culture enhanced his appreciation of the human condition in a natural setting, and enabled him to develop a talent for ‘in situ’ observation and photography.

Flaherty appears to have turned to filmmaking to communicate to the outside world his impressions of Eskimo culture. He appears to have held a deep respect for the Eskimos, for their inherently physical struggle to survive in challenging environments. Flaherty sought to portray their existence in a manner that would illustrate the purity and nobility of their lives, a purpose underlying each of his films.
Flaherty developed a method of working that was fairly consistent from film to film. His filmed depictions of the people of the Aran Islands, as with his films of the peoples of Hudson Bay, Samoa, and the Louisiana Bayou, demonstrate a more or less constant concern with people who live in natural settings, representative of societies on the verge of change.

Another consistent factor in Flaherty’s work is the selection of a ‘cast’. He may have pioneered the use of real people to re-enact their own everyday lives before a camera, but he appears to have chosen ideal types on the basis of physical appearance, and to have created artificial families to act before the camera.

Typically, Flaherty encouraged improvisation, working without a plot or script. Flaherty’s method required total immersion in a culture in order to discover the basic patterns of life. However, Flaherty’s working methods left Balcon and Gainsborough with little control over the production. Shooting on location, off the west coast of Ireland, not only was Flaherty literally remote and beyond contact, but was also to finish production over-schedule and over-budget. The cost of production was never recovered by revenues from screening. In the trade, Man of Aran was to become known as ‘Balcon's folly’. It was an exercise in folly, or foolishness if you will, that he would never repeat.

The subjects of the film, the representation of lives
Man of Aran is a documentary film, but it is also a fiction. Man of Aran is, as The Times described in April 1934, a simple story of “hardy fisherfolk and peasants” (‘New Films in London’, 23 April 1934: 12). It is a representation of life on the three Aran Islands off the western coast of Ireland. It is a portrayal of hardship, an audio-visual record of the daily routines of islanders. Aran island activities in the thirties, as depicted in Flaherty's film, consisted of crop farming on relatively barren ground, line fishing from a tall cliff, harpooning a basking shark from a boat, cooking shark liver and decanting shark liver oil. Flaherty depicts, also, the sea's destruction of the boat used to hunt the shark.

John Grierson offers an account of Flaherty's movements before shooting Man of Aran, and of reception to the film after its completion, distribution and exhibition. According to Grierson, Flaherty was invited to Britain by the Empire Marketing Board (EMB) Film Unit - which Grierson describes as "a department among other departments" (Hardy 1966: 47) of the EMB, intended to support educational and propaganda services provided by the Board. Grierson adds that Flaherty had no significant background in commercial cinema before working on Man of Aran; that he had not worked in cinema since working with Friedrich W. Murnau on Tabu (1931), described by Grierson as "a film which was financed and made outside of the commercial circle" (Ibid: 59). Flaherty was introduced to the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation by Cedric Belfrage and Angus MacPhail. Grierson recalls that Flaherty was given carte blanche by GBPC, with respect to his work on the Aran Islands. A 'carte blanche' arrangement, Grierson writes, "was altogether a freak happening in commercial cinema and entirely due to the supporting courage of Michael Balcon and MacPhail"(Ibid: 59).

An important player in the completion of
Man of Aran was Pat Mullen, an islander who published his own account of the making of the film in 1935.2 In his appraisal of the film’s production, Arthur Calder-Marshall writes of Pat Mullen's contribution. Calder-Marshall writes that Mullen engaged the labour on the islands, to support the film's production, and drove Flaherty and his wife, Frances, around the islands, as they sought "possible film types and incidents which might be built into a film" (Calder-Marshall et al 1966: 145). Mullen’s role in recruiting locals for Flaherty may have been crucial to the film’s completion. According to an issue of The Times published in April 1934, the first few months following Flaherty’s arrival on the Aran islands were spent “making friends and persuading the fisherfolk, much against their will, to help him with his film”(‘New Films in London’, 23 April 1934: 12). Before making the film, Flaherty took those whom he had chosen to be his principal actors in Man of Aran to Galway, 30 miles from the islands, “to see what a film and a cinema were like” (Ibid). The Aran film goers would have included Mullen, who acted in the film as a shark hunter as well as acting as a contact man for Flaherty.

Taking our cue from
Paul Falzone's writing on ethnographic research, it might be of interest to consider that Pat Mullen's publication on the making of Man of Aran identifies him as the subject of a major ethnographic film who has subsequently written about his experience as a subject, and has reflected on the ethnographer's work. (Falzone 2004: 326-344) However, as Calder-Marshall records, Mullen had not spent his life on the island. He had returned from America seven or eight years before the making of Man of Aran, and was regarded somewhat distinctly by the islanders, for his socialist views. (Calder-Marshall et al 1966: 144) Whatever the ethnographic value in Mullen's writing, it is possible to gain some understanding of Mullen's contribution to the production of the film. In Man of Aran, Mullen describes his provision of local transport, in the form of his own jaunting cart, but also the building of the "film" house, the makeshift studio that served as Flaherty's base whilst making the film. (Rotha 1983: 111) In praising Flaherty's work, Balcon recalls that he was introduced to Flaherty by John Grierson, "some time in one or other of the pubs where film men used to forgather to talk about films" (Balcon 1969: 69). Balcon writes that he learned that Murnau and Flaherty had parted company before the completion of Tabu, because the two men could not reconcile differences. Incidentally, Murnau had been killed in a car crash in 1931, just before Tabu was released and exhibited for the first time. Flaherty convinced Balcon to produce Man of Aran in the course of this first meeting, in this pub, with Grierson present, by describing to Balcon the barren, treeless, unfertile land of the Aran Islands, and by talking of the people and the challenges they faced to feed themselves. In fact, Flaherty had never been to the islands; he was relaying that which a friend of his had told him. Balcon recalls that Flaherty's description of the islands and islanders was enough to persuade him to produce the film; he did not require a written story from Flaherty, or anything else to convince him to proceed. Balcon decided "almost immediately" (Ibid: 70) to make a film about the islanders' struggle for existence.

It may be significant, in terms of an understanding of Michael Balcon's attitude to the production of
Man of Aran, to convey his recollection that he had agreed to provide a small budget for the film's production. Balcon committed to outlay £10,000, which "was exhausted long before the film was complete" (Ibid: 70). In notes submitted to Paul Rotha on 16 July, 1959, Michael Balcon recalls, "Flaherty merely told me that he wanted to deal with a community who kept alive on minimum standards, even to the point of reclaiming tile soil for their barren rocky island. The fishing and hence the shark sequences ... were never mentioned in our original discussions ... Flaherty undertook that the film would not cost more than 10,000 pounds." (Rotha 1983: 108) Lou Alexander observes that the budgetary constraints imposed by Balcon "meant the film was shot as a silent and the sound track was laid on afterwards" (Alexander), and that criticisms of the film include "the experimental nature of the recording" (Ibid) - which detracted from the film's realism. Grierson describes Man of Aran as "a silent film to which a background ribbon of sound has added nothing but atmosphere" (Hardy 1966: 61). The sound does not detract from an essentially visual mode of storytelling - achieved, Grierson observes, using "the tempo'd technique built up by the Russian silent films" (Ibid).

Grierson reveals, in this reference to Flaherty’s adoption of Russian practice, and in other references by Flaherty’s exemplary understanding and execution of the theory and practice of documentary film-making 3, that Flaherty was regarded as an accomplished technician and student of film schools before the production of
Man of Aran. However, Robert Flaherty may be regarded, still, as an unconventional film maker, since his working practice involved shooting vast quantities of film for each of the film's segments. This practice may be seen as one cause of the film's protracted production schedule and expense. Flaherty took almost two years to shoot over 200,000 feet of film in total, in an exercise of "wild over-shooting" (Calder-Marshall et al 1966: 151). Mullen affirms such Flaherty’s enthusiasm for photography in a 1953 issue of Film News. According to Mullen, Flaherty would decide to put up his camera at a distant spot. Once he had decided where to shoot, he would be determined to get to the location, to place the camera. Indeed, Mullen recalls, "Well, nothing could stop him getting there. He made a direct line and he'd bolt through a field of briars, you know, that would hold a bull - that sort of way. He had that fire in him."4

Michael Balcon's active involvement in the production of Man of Aran extended to handling the raw footage shot by Flaherty. All the exposed film, amounting to thousands of feet, was sent to London for processing and inspection. Balcon recalls,
"The flow was such that the time involved in seeing these rushes was so great that I used to spend all my Saturday afternoons (no longer going to football matches, by the way) in my small private theatre at the studio." (Balcon 1969: 70) Balcon recalls, also, that he used several hours of this uncut footage to assuage the concerns of Isidore Ostrer, chairman of the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, who had become concerned about Flaherty's ability to complete the film within schedule and within budget. Balcon recalls that Ostrer and his wife viewed the rushes, and were "absolutely enthralled by the uncut scenes of seascape and the wonderful performances of the cast" (Ibid: 70-71).

There is an understanding that Michael Balcon had agreed to the production of
Man of Aran to fulfil a perceived required for a documentary strand to GBPC’s production portfolio.

The production of
Man of Aran may be regarded as a means to defend the GBPC/Gainsborough combine from increasing criticism that its films, and those of other British studios, failed to represent real life. Such criticism would seem consistent with advice submitted to Michael Balcon by Angus MacPhail in 1930, on the various options for viable film production at Gainsborough Pictures. MacPhail's memorandum considers the possibility, and commercial viability, of producing: westerns; crook and underworld dramas; murder and court-room stories; spectacular dramas; college stories; backstage musical stories; musical shows and operettas; and drama. (MacPhail 1930) Though MacPhail offers Balcon, in his 1930 memorandum, no overt reference to the viable production of documentary or realist pictures, the GBPC programme of nine films for 1932 included, in addition to five comedies, two melodramas, and an unspecified genre, “one real-life drama” in the form of Man of Aran. (Rotha 1983: 108) According to Cedric Belfrage, Balcon committed only a hundredth of his 1932 production budget of a million pounds to the making of Man of Aran, (Ibid: 107) However, Balcon did spend on its promotion to the culture of popular cinema, deploying numerous publicity ploys to attract cinemagoers to see Man of Aran. Arthur Calder-Marshall's work on the life of Robert Flaherty, and Grierson's own 1935 text on documentary film production, detail the promotion of Man of Aran. For example, Maggie Dirrane, an Aran Islander cast as a central figure in Man of Aran, was presented at Selfridges, the London department store, by the Daily Express - where she was asked her opinion of silk stockings. Furthermore, a stuffed basking shark was crammed into a window display at the GBPC offices in London's Wardour Street. (Calder-Marshall et al 1966: 164; Hardy 1966: 110)

Balcon’s promotional antics for
Man of Aran seem almost vain when contextualised with reflection on how the commercial viability of the film might have been affected by the treatment of documentary cinema in contemporary legislation. The 1927 Cinematograph Films Act excluded certain types of production from quota protection, including films representing news, nature, industry, and science. Hence, most documentary films could be excepted from quota legislation. In practice, however, the lack of quota status discouraged exhibitors from showing documentaries.(Dickinson & Street 1985: 65)
The critical reception of an imaginative production.

Despite its somewhat artificial representation of Aran islanders' lives, in spite of its promotion as a film for mass entertainment,
Man of Aran was well-regarded critically at the time of its release and in the years and decades following its initial exhibition in 1934. A contemporary of Balcon and Flaherty, John Betjeman offered Man of Aran as an example of imaginative and knowledgeable production, and experimentation in the use of setting and characterisation. Betjeman did not name Balcon and Flaherty specifically but, in so far as Balcon was producer and Flaherty the director and cinematographer, the credit accorded by Betjeman should be clear. In an article published in 1938, Betjeman cited Man of Aran in relation to a perceived prevalence of ignorant producers, unimaginative presentation of scenes, and timidity in experiment, in American and British film production of the thirties.

Betjeman writes that a knowledgeable producer such as Michael Balcon or
Michael Powell would represent English country life through photography of "the unexplored beauties of Northants, which rival the Cotswolds" (Betjeman 1938: 98). A filmgoer or critic could expect an imaginative producer to make a film of English country life by depiction of rolling downs, or forests wherein deer leap glades, or "a genuine cottage not inhabited by weekenders" (Ibid). The same imaginative, knowledgeable producer might make a film of Parisian life that would complement the work of the director and screenwriter René Clair, or a filmed depiction of London folk that focuses not on St. Paul's Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, but instead displays "Kilburn High Road, and a street running like corrugated iron, bow front and beastly front door, in strips over hill-sides of New Cross" (Ibid).

Decades on from its production, writing in the early fifties on cinema and exploration for
France-Observateur, André Bazin describes Man of Aran as an example of the "photographic splendour of the films of Flaherty" (Bazin 1967: 162). Bazin’s appraisal echoes that C.A. Lejeune, shortly after Man of Aran‘s release in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, 25 April 1934. (‘New Films in London’, 23 April 1934: 12) Four days on from its opening, on Sunday, 29 April 1934, C.A. Lejeune published an appraisal, in The Observer, of Man of Aran. After referring to its exhibition at the New Gallery Cinema in London, where it opened, Lejeune describes Man of Aran as a beautiful film, and offers particular praise for Flaherty's camerawork. Lejeune writes, first, that "six thousand feet of such fine and purposeful pictorial composition have seldom been set out upon the screen" (Lejeune 1991: 93), before encouraging everyone to see it. Lejeune writes, however, that those who do see Man of Aran should not expect to see a great film, "in the sense that Nanook was great" (Ibid). Lejeune observes that Flaherty fails to convey the islanders' struggle for existence "to an audience who are, after all, strangers to this sea-folk, and unversed in the difference between the incidents and accidents of their lives" (Ibid). This might be considered a fundamental failing for Flaherty, who was regarded as a film maker in the naturalist tradition, seeking primarily "to record the conflict of man and nature using real subjects" (Alexander).

In an article published in the November 1937 issue of
World Film News, John Grierson compared Man of Aran to The Life of Emile Zola (1937) and The Battleship Potemkin (1925), in terms of the finesse of its manufacture, and the quality of the viewing experience. (Hardy 1981: 103) However, reviews of the film include that which was written by Irene Nicholson and published in the summer 1934 issue of Film Art. Nicholson's assertion in this review is that Man of Aran is flawed. It is visually attractive, but it is not an accurate and true representation. Nicholson writes, "Picturesqueness rather than realism is in documentary a serious fault, and one which Flaherty's peasant idealism can hardly avoid." (Nicholson 1934) Nicholson's 1934 review of Man of Aran concludes with the following note on its significance, relative to other productions screened that year -"In spite of its obvious faults, the film is of importance in the year's events because it is free of the studios, concedes nothing to convention, and breaks new geographic ground." (Ibid).

Flaherty may be commended for photography. His depiction of the islands and people is such that, as Nicholson puts it,
"everything is beautiful in Aran, hardships are bravely endured and invariably overcome, the peasants are noble and rear model children" (Nicholson 1934). However, he has directed a film in which incidents develop slowly, and wherein there is little cohesion between the events filmed.
Not all critics praised Flaherty’s representation of Aran island life. The dubbing, which Grierson identifies as not detracting from the film's
"essentially visual mode of storytelling" (Hardy 1966: 61), is regarded by Nicholson as almost ruining "the natural movements of natural actors"(Nicholson 1934). Criticism of this film with respect to verisimilitude, or truthful and accurate representation, includes Graham Greene's observation, published in 1938, that Man of Aran does not truthfully represent life on the Aran islands - that, for example, the Aran islanders "had to be taught shark-hunting in order to supply Mr Flaherty with a dramatic sequence" (Greene 1938: 62). This is echoed approximately 70 years later by Lou Alexander. Writing for the British Film Institute, Alexander observes that Man of Aran has been criticised for a lack of realism, and for being composed of a narratorial structure imposed on the project by Flaherty, that did not reflect the real lives of the Aran islanders at the time of the film's production. Alexander suggests, moreover, that life on the Aran islands had not been lived as Flaherty depicted for some centuries - and that Flaherty chose to engineer sequences to deliver an essentially false representation of Aran island life to cinema audiences.

"For example, shark hunts had not been carried out in the way that the film suggested for several generations, as hadn't the potato planting, but Flaherty felt the romantic nature of his study, and his desire for the audience to understand the harshness of the Islanders lives, would be enhanced by recreating the old ways." (Alexander) The artifice of the shark hunt is affirmed in Balcon's recollection of the production. Balcon recalls that Robert and Frances Flaherty discovered the basking sharks off the Aran islands on their first reconnaissance trip, and learned that previous generations of Aran islanders had hunted the sharks. They learned also that the sharks had returned to the islands only a few years previously, presumably because the hunting of sharks was no longer practiced by the islanders. Balcon recalls, then, Pat Mullen was told how to hunt basking sharks by one of the eldest islanders, and Flaherty taught Mullen how to use a harpoon gun. According to Balcon, "The sharks and the storm scenes, which were not even mentioned in our original discussions, became the climactic scenes of the film." (Balcon 1969: 70).

According to Alexander, Paul Rotha and others wrote of "Flaherty's lack of reference to the social and political situation on Aran and generally in Ireland in that period"(Alexander).

For comparison with the perceived failure of Flaherty to create a faithful representation of island life, one might gain an appreciation of the actual lifestyle of Aran islanders by viewing a film produced two years before
Man of Aran. Aran of the Saints (1932) was made by The London Catholic Society to relate a history of the Catholic religion on the Aran islands. Whilst telling the history of the islanders' faith, the film also includes footage of contemporary island life.

Some 14 years on from Grierson’s positive appraisal of Flaherty’s work in
World Film News, some 13 years on from Greene’s rejection of the film in Footnotes to the Film, on 16 October 1951 The Reporter published an article in which Grierson reported Flaherty's bitter reaction to suggestions that Flaherty "had idealized this tough world of tough men and lost the reality of a landlord-ridden poverty to decorative horizons and artificial issues with basking - and very harmless - sharks" (Hardy 1981: 177). Grierson offers, also, a measure of justification for Flaherty’s choices as director. A reason for Flaherty's decision to shoot an artificial representation of Aran island life may be found in Grierson's observation that Flaherty "hated the grotesque and deformed" (Ibid), and could not understand why critics preferred to see shabbiness and poverty. Of Flaherty's approach to film making, Grierson writes, "He sought beauty as passionately as any, but it was not of his origin, his nature, or his habit to find it in the gutter." (Ibid)
Months on from its release in the UK, the
Film and Photo League, an American film movement, published a review in the first issue of Filmfront, in which Man of Aran is criticised for oversimplification of the islanders' situation. The unnamed Filmfront reviewer writes, "We are asked to believe throughout that these islanders' only concern is the sea, their only means of livelihood fishing. By now we are all aware that these people are very much affected with the laws and prices prevailing on the mainland." (‘The Films Look at the Worker’, 1934: 6) Filmfront's reviewer appears exercised by the lack of reference, in Man of Aran, to external influences upon island life. The presentation, in Man of Aran, of an apparently self-sufficient island people, which could be interpreted as having rejected the relative stability and civilisation of the nation they belong to, prompts the reviewer to ask, "Why not show us what has caused these people to cut themselves off from the world? Why do these people choose to lead their lives so harshly?"(Ibid)

Man of Aran may be regarded as a fundamentally false representation of island life, at the time of the film's release it was praised by the same realist critics who acclaimed Drifters (1929) and Song of Ceylon (1934) - including not only John Grierson, but also Basil Wright, Edgar Anstey, and Paul Rotha. In The Film Till Now, which was published in 1930, Rotha writes that his contemporaries in British film-making lacked a sense of nationality, a vision of Britishness. He considered that Flaherty’s peers in the British film industry chose not to represent British life in film; they chose, rather, to emulate American film makers or the stylistic approach of the German school. In The Film Till Now, Rotha writes, "Our railways, our industries, our towns, and our countryside are waiting for incorporation into narrative films." (Rotha 1930: 315.)

Michael Balcon’s position on realist cinema
Michael Balcon supported, in print, those who campaigned for stronger representation of real life in British films. In October 1936, in the London Evening News, near the end of his tenure as head of production at the Gaumont-British/Gainsborough combine, Balcon expressed a preference for a realist strand of British film-making, thus:

    "We see the dramatic entertainment in the life of the farmer on the fells of the North, of the industrial worker in the Midlands, of the factory girls of London's new industrial areas, of the quiet
    shepherds of Sussex. I believe that the sweep of the Sussex Downs against the sky makes as fine a background to a film as the hills of California; that Kentish and Worcestershire orchards and
    farms are as picturesque as the farmlands of Virginia; that the slow talk of labourers round an English village pub fire makes as good dialogue as the wise-cracks of 'City Slickers' in New York"

    (Balcon 1936)

Michael Balcon’s view, as expressed in October 1936, seems unambiguous. Realist cinema is desirable and achievable. Balcon's support for realist film production, however, is not borne out by his production record at Gainsborough Pictures and the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation. Man of Aran may be regarded as the only Balcon production in the realist style advocated by critics such as Grierson. One can imagine that Balcon's lack of further involvement in realist cinema at Gainsborough Pictures and the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, following the production of Man of Aran, might have disappointed film makers such as Grierson and critics such as Nicholson.

1. See
Flaherty, Robert J (October 1922), ‘How I Filmed 'Nanook of the North', World's Work, pp. 632-640.
Mullen, Pat (1935) Man of Aran. New York: E P Dutton.
3. See
Grierson, John (2002) ‘First Principles of Documentary (1932)’, in Fowler, Catherine (ed.), The European Cinema Reader, London: Routledge, pp. 39-44.
4. Film News (New York), 13: 3, 1953. Cited in Calder-Marshall, Arthur; Rotha, Paul; Wright, Basil (eds.) (1966), The Innocent Eye, New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, p. 153.

‘New Films in London’. In The Times. No 46735, 23 April 1934: 12.
‘The Films Look at the Worker’. In Filmfront, One. 1934: 6-7.
Alexander, Lou. (nd). 'Man of Aran (1934)’, screenonline, Available from, [Accessed 14 March, 2009].
Balcon, Michael (1936), ‘Putting the Real Britain on Screen’, in Evening News, 1 October.
Balcon, Michael (1969), Michael Balcon Presents…A Lifetime of Films, London: Hutchinson & Co (Publishers) Limited.
Bazin, André (1967), What is Cinema?, Vol. I, Berkeley: University of California Press
Betjeman, John (1938), ‘Settings, Costumes, Backgrounds’, in Davy, Charles (ed.). Footnotes to the Film, London: Readers’ Union Limited, pp. 87-100.
Calder-Marshall, Arthur; Rotha, Paul; Wright, Basil (eds.) (1966), The Innocent Eye, New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Dickinson, Margaret & Street, Sarah (1985), Cinema and State: The Film Industry and the British Government 1927-84, London: bfi Publishing
Falzone, Paul (2004), 'Transcendent ethnography: Designing an action research approach to ethnographic film within cultures of conflict', in Action Research, 2: 3, pp. 326-344.
Greene, Graham (1938), ‘Settings, Costumes, Backgrounds’, in Davy, Charles (ed.). Footnotes to the Film, London: Readers’ Union Limited, pp. 57-70.
Hardy, Forsythe (ed.) (1966), Grierson on Documentary, London: Faber and Faber Limited.
Hardy, Forsythe (ed.) (1981), Grierson on the Movies, London: Faber and Faber Limited.
MacPhail, Angus (7 May 1930), Memorandum on types of production, Aileen and Michael Balcon Collection, File A/59, BFI Special Collections, London.
Nicholson, Irene (1934) ‘Man of Aran’, in film art. Summer: 66.
Rotha, Paul (1930), The Film Till Now; A Survey of The Cinema, London: Jonathan Cape.
Rotha, Paul (1983), Robert J. Flaherty, a Biography, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

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