Job title: Programme Director, Film Directing MFA/MA, Reader

Tel: +44 (0) 131 651 5867


Research outputs: Emma Davie on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Emma Davie's research area is documentary filmmaking. Her work explores approaches to narrative structure and form and how ethical questions affect this. Her most recent film is the feature "I am Breathing" ( 2012). Co-directed with fiction film maker Morag Mckinnon, it continues her interest in how collaboration informs the process including a central collaboration with Neil Platt, the subject of the film. It has won or been nominated for many awards including three Scotland BAFTAs in 2013. Emma is currently co-directing a feature documentary with Swiss-Canadian director Peter Mettle r- “ Becoming Animal” and is also a story editor/ consultant on various films including the new film by Syrian filmmaker Diana El Jeroudhi.

She has been making documentaries for 15 years including "What Age Can You Start Being An Artist?" for Channel 4 (2004, nominated for Grierson Award); "Gigha: Buying Our Island (2002)", a one-hour film for BBC/Scottish Screen; and "Flight", a BBC/Canadian co-production (2000). She has also directed short experimental work including "71˚N." ( nominated for Best short EIFF). Emma's background in experimental theatre and performance gave her a background in questioning form and of a collaborative creative practice. She ran her own company Clanjamfrie which did large-scale site-specific performances combining film and live performance. She worked with, amongst others, Robert LePage on Tectonic Plates which she acted in and which was also made into a film. Emma studied English at Oxford University and theatre in Paris with Phillipe Gaulier.

Emma works with filmmakers internationally to develop their work at different stages of film development and editing, as a workshop leader tutor and story consultant. She has taught or given lectures or workshops with DocEdge in India, European Documentary Network at various international events including Thessaloniki Doc Festival, Below Zero, Norway, IDA in Prague, Ex Oriente Film Festival, IDFA in Amsterdam, Storydoc in Greece, National Film School in Norway, Discovery Campus, Crossing Borders in Shanghai, DocMontevideo in Uruguay, Qumra Film Event in Doha, Ramallah and many other places. She taught at the European Film College in Denmark and was on the board for EDN for 4 years.

Emma’s research focuses on documentary filmmaking and especially looks at collaborative practice and how documentary form can evolve beyond traditional narrative structures.  She is currently co-directing a feature documentary called “ Becoming Animal” with Peter Mettler: it will be a filmic  journey with the cult philosopher and writer David Abram, to explore how our sensory relationship with the “more than human” world has evolved into its current state.

Her last film, “I am Breathing" (2012) co- directed with Morag MacKinnon was about a man who, paralysed by Motor Neurone Disease, confronts questions of life and death as he prepares to leave a legacy to his son. The film explored how documentary could communicate the ineffable state of complete paralysis and aimed to find a language to avoid victimising Neil or making him an " object" of the camera by using his blog as a narrative device.  It has played in over 45 countries winning awards and nominations (Audience award, Document; Shortlisted for Best Feature IDFA , Hot Docs, three Scottish BAFTA nominations; Winner of Best Director Scotland BAFTA; Winner  Riverrun Best Documentary) and was broadcast on Film 4 and many other countries. see

Emma frequently writes and gives lectures internationally about documentary structures and currently is  a story editor/ consultant on various films including a new film by Syrian filmmaker Diana El Jeroudhi, produced by Orwa Nyrabia. Previous work includes "Artist as Leader" ( 2009) Film to support and further the questions of how an artist's practice can be used as a model for other leadership. The project was part of the AHRC funded On the Edge led by Anne Douglas and Chris Fremantle). " Research into the role of the artist working in public indicates that artists are uniquely placed to inform and creatively develop public life. In seeking to understand the Nature of Creativity in public contexts, this research focuses on the concept of ‘leading through practice’. "

Current PhD students