Fidelia Serwaa Ametewee
My interest in the arts and related creative processes and experiences can be traced to my childhood interactions with my mother. Those daily interactions gave me the privilege to observe my mother’s ability, as a clothing designer, to creatively manipulate textured fabric into an outstanding finished work of fashion. I could hardly notice at that time that my social enculturation was making a significant positive influence on me; I imitated her dress making skills in cutting and joining pieces of fabrics together, to make fanciful dresses for my doll. These experiences formed an important learning environment that would eventually nurture my interest and development in filmmaking. Thus, by embodying the knowledge of cutting and joining fabrics, I now live and employ the memory by creatively putting video clips together to communicate interesting stories to a larger audience.
I have 8 years of experience as a professional video editor for several TV series, documentaries, TVCs, etc. As a Senior Research Assistant – Editing at the AV Lab – Media and Visual Arts Section of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana – Legon, I have been working for the past six years on the photo and audiovisual documentation of all aspects of Ghanaian/African culture for field research, conferences, etc. I am also currently involved the creation of an archive of all documentaries on Ghana to be used in the teaching and learning of African Studies. In collaboration with the institutions’ research fellows, I work on developing documentaries for the Institute’s internal and outreach programs. My other responsibilities include converting all Institute of African Studies video films and other audio visuals into digitized form and editing of digitized images, video and audio for publication.
The Audiovisual Laboratory of the Institute of African studies is one of the Academic units of the institute placed under the Media and Visual Arts Section of the Institute. This unit is a production unit and its core function is to document, produce, process (making accessible) sound and image materials for teaching and learning. The audiovisual collections within the unit, date back to the 1970’s and includes original video recordings on u-matic, betacam sp, vhs and mini-dv and audio recordings on audiocassettes and micro cassettes.
This position has offered me great insight into video documentation, editing and archiving. Prior to my appointment in the university, I was working as a professional video editor in several media institutions in the country but my work with the institute and in particular my link with the J.H Kwabena Nketia archives has made my professional life worthwhile. I have learned the ethics of fieldwork and how to care for audiovisual heritage. I was privileged to have been part of the MAARA (Making African Academic Resources Accessible) Project with a joint collaboration with NYU (New York University) who contracted AV Preserve Exchange (APEX) to train staff of the Archive. This project was to make audio resources dating back as far back 1950’s accessible for teaching and learning at the University of Ghana and to promote Ghana’s rich sound heritage by facilitating new uses for these materials in teaching, learning, scholarship and production.
My recent exposure to a 3 week summer school course, Visual Ethnography of Cityscapes, at Athens in July 2017 gave me the opportunity to study visual anthropology along with hands-on training on how to use audiovisual ethnographic methods in filming and how to present findings within wider local and global contexts. It was an intensive introduction to the field of visual anthropology and on the principles and methodologies of ethnographic filmmaking. I was one of the 29 participants from 16 countries and from various universities all over the world. My group research was on African hairstyles and we produced a 10 minute film, Sensational African Collection, which is awaiting an evaluation for a film festival, ETHNOFEST.
I hold a Bachelor of Fine Art – Editing from the National Film and Television Institute accredited to University of Ghana, Legon. With all these experiences and knowledge, I look forward to pursuing an advanced degree with a scholarship in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Museum and Heritage Studies or Visual and Media Anthropology to PhD level.
Being a mother of two, a 10 year old boy and a 6 year old girl, while working side-by-side, patience is a part of me. Since the editor stays and works mostly with the clips themselves, nobody really directs the editor about what kind of shots to go for, in telling the story. I love watching films, cooking and photography.
For the Humanities Across Borders program I will be working closely with Dr. Kojo Opoku Aidoo on photos, reports and the creation of short films and sound bites. I welcome this opportunity and hope to give my best and be open to new opportunities.