Documentary, production, gender, labour, precarity, liminality
Women experience positive engagements with documentary as an enclave that values their gendered contribution, but also suffer negative encounters with it as a genre that restricts their full involvement, by promoting masculinist practices as normative. This gendered dynamic means that women occupy a liminal space with regard to documentary. Women’s liminal status is experienced negatively in a number of ways: firstly, during commissioning, where their approach to narrative, budgets and directing are questioned; secondly, in terms of work relationships where they are required to be relentlessly ‘likeable’; and thirdly, when credits for work performed are withheld. Women’s subjective identities are constructed around this negative liminal positioning but it can become a position or form of positive adaptation to gendered and neoliberal subjectivity in their working lives. Resistance occurs when women conduct practices such as: firstly, enhancing the status of affective labour; secondly, when they undo or reject working through normative hierarchies; and thirdly, when they collaborate in documentary production to negate neoliberal logics of individualization. Liminality, thus constitutes both a way of understanding women’s negative experiences of gender inequality in documentary production but also a potentially positive form of resistance to the gendered precarity that characterizes creative labour.