The process of action research and the production of a documentary film are structurally comparable. Based on this assumption, this lecture tells the story of the making of a film on action research. It describes the process starting with the decision about who will be the protagonists, followed by script writing, filming and editing. The core issue is the film director’s strong intervention during the filming phase which is reflected in the light of his different roles and with respect to ethical considerations. The lecture closes with reflections on what a documentary film can convey about action research.
Based upon Lewin's work (1946), performing the action research spiral leads to a practice that is more accurate in its essence which, however, does not mean the practice is true or perfect. Like learning, action research is a cyclical ongoing process. An action researcher incessantly observes, analyzes, hypothesizes, assesses, reflects, and adjusts (Mary, 2012). A challenge concerning all forms of action research relates to the tension between the researcher and the organizational context (Davidson, Martinsons & Ou, 2012). In this research, a further tension was the one between the different roles of the film director. The spiral process allows the researcher to see the whole picture and provides reflections comprehensively – towards himself and towards the protagonists the director analyses. Thus, he managed to grasp issues that were not apparent in the first viewing and repeated viewing of the same responses contributed to a deeper understanding. He began to see things beyond words which were not evident in the way the participants responded, and to understand his feelings during the filming process and his influence on the process. All this should lead to a better and deeper way of his film making in the future.