Top Five Tips for Researchers Working with Film and TV from Dr. Afroditi Pina

From her initial thoughts to five key takeaways for any researcher who is approached to work with a film or tv production...Dr Afroditi Pina, Reader in Forensic Psychology, shares about her experience working with and advising on My Blonde GF.

The Experience

I worked with Tyke Films in their production of My Blonde GF, a film about a survivor of non-consensual Deepfake pornography, a relatively newer form of Image Based Abuse, where someone superimposes one person’s likeness, by synthesising existing media and digitally manipulating them, with that of another.

I was contacted by the production team to come on board and provide mental health and research expertise from a psychological perspective. I had natural apprehension about being involved in something outside of my comfort zone and not knowing how my advice was going to be received or whether it would be taken on board. For me this was the first time that I was involved in a project as deeply, where I was able to highlight and give feedback on areas of concern.

Although the survivor in this case had consented in the process and was involved from the inception of the project, I was able to feedback to the team (who were really receptive and welcoming from the beginning and throughout) about some areas of concern that perhaps had not been considered from my lens of safeguarding for all individuals involved the project who could or could not give consent.

My experience has been wholly positive throughout, I felt that the producers and director were invested in being in direct and constant consultation with the survivor.

I was consulted with and listened to and I had the pleasure and luck to collaborate with a team that was truly interested in portraying the subject matter in a realistic but sensitive light, which resulted in what I felt was a truly powerful film about the long-lasting and varied effects of such online crimes on people.

Dr Pina's Top Five Tips:

If I could distil my top 5 tips for working with content creators/ producers in this way as a psychologist/mental health professional they would be the following:

  • You are being asked for your expertise, experience and perspective. Stay true to your values and communicate clearly to the team any issues that need to be addressed. Everyone comes at the project from a different perspective and it is crucial that other views and opinions are taken into consideration.
  • When you identify issues of safeguarding they should be of paramount importance. Highlight those and ensure you give practical advice and steps on how these could be addressed. As a psychologist I was responsible for ensuring safeguarding of all those involved in the project. Communicate potential ramifications that could arise from the project for viewers but also for participants in the project.
  • Consider if the project you are asked to collaborate on falls within your area of expertise and whether you can advise the team. It’s important to be clear to any collaborators of your limits and expertise range.
  • Ensure that the team/producers have the best interests of the people involved in their projects at heart. Ensure that if the project entails a sensitive or potentially stigmatising subject matter, that enough aftercare is arranged and made available for the people involved.
  • If a project is not something you feel secure in collaborating with, or you feel that the team you are collaborating with is a good fit for you then it may be best to suggest someone else to help in your stead. Engage with projects that treat the subject matter in ways you would feel comfortable and proud to have your name associated with.

About Dr Afroditi Pina.

Afroditi is a Reader in Forensic Psychology and Director of Graduate Studies and Research. Afroditi conducts research in forensic and social psychology on the broad areas of sexual violence, gender equality and victimisation.