The advent of digital has led to the proliferation of moving image data, signalling a shift not only in what we research, but in the way research is carried out and reported. The subsequent increase in interest in the use of digital film in the discipline is therefore not surprising, but critical reflections on the possibilities and limitations of the medium are lacking. In this special section of Area, I have drawn together a series of papers from practice‐led authors to reflect on the complexities, tensions and difficulties that are caught up with the potential of using film as research method and output. Here, I introduce the different papers and reflect on the legacy of analogue video and film in the humanities and social sciences. I argue that while they should not be ignored, the resulting geographical categorisations of film that were developed when the process was analogue – placing film either as a text that should be analysed and/or a visual research method – currently restrict our further understanding of this nascent form of knowledge production.
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