Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Meeting Chris Lunch on participatory video

Last month, I was too busy to blog some of the meeting sI attended and it seems late to blog them now. So let me be a good blogger today and blog the meeting I attended today with Chris Lunch from Insight on participatory video organised by CTA in Wageningen. (and yes, in Wageningen you always meet some old faces from the good old days like Huub from World Report who still has the same sense of humour so that was fun!).

I have been busy with vlogging, but had not explored the link with participatory video, hence I was looking forward to this meeting. My assumption about participatory video was that you give the camera to farmers and other people at community level so that they produce their own video. Though that was Chris' definition too, others used a much wider definition of participatory video in which you let people participate in the choices filmers make like topics, subjects, storyboard editing, etc.

The process of Insight's participatory video process can be summarized as follows:
  • Participants learn video skills
  • Facilitators help groups identify and analyze important issues
  • Short video messages are directed and filmed
  • Footage is shared and watched
  • Learning and exchange is facilitated
  • Communities have full editorial control
More in the training book developed by them which can be downloaded from their site.

The advantages of participatory video mentioned (between the lines) were that it can help people to focus and articulate their opinions, you have a concrete product, which can be shared. It can foster consensus building, and it helps identity building, people can be seen more easily as an expert. I would have liked to articulate better how it can work to enhance learning and shift power relations. In some of the examples, farmers were listened too because they had a video. Otherwise they would have been ignored. In that sense, it can work to increase inclusiveness of development processes- but that has to be facilitated in a skilled manner. I suspect Chris is first and foremost a good facilitator who happens to use video as an instrument. I would like to become more skilled in knowing when to use participatory video, when an online discussion or any other means to stimulate creativity in a group process. I do believe participatory video can open up people's minds because it introduces variety in means of communication (as you could use other channels).

Various filmmakers shared stories of how they used to carry kilos of equipment, and that the new camcorders have made participatory video possible. I shortly presented my vlogging process (will blog this in my next post). I am convinced that this can be a next step in video technology, which can also work to empower the 'hard to reach' as they were called.

Jay Ded works on an interesting video project from India, which he announces here. He believes there is a great hunger to learn more about lives in other countries (especially in the south). Amazing how some of the world are disconnected; the vloggers, the participatory video people, the filmmakers. So thanks to CTA for connecting some of us today!


Huub Ruijgrok said...

Thanks Joitske for creating a summary of the day and for introducing me to blogging and vlogging.

As a filmmaker I have also facilitated pure participatory video projects handing over camcorders to environmental activists and illiterate indigenous people of the Amazone. Not happy with main stream media or not being heared the way you would like to? Then here you go: Do It Yourself !

The projects proved all the advantages that Chris has been talking about and it is great to read his book.

Filming is easy to learn these days (2 days). Learning to write takes much longer (years). So to come to your question on when to use participatory video: it could be very usefull working with illiterate people; they can talk (often better then literate people) and handle a camera.

PV could also be usefull in remote areas where no other audiovisual media are coming to film, or in a situation where the people want to monitor a situation over time, for example a local village that will film over time the impact of a big mining compagny to their environment and social life.

Communication is essential for development. The different stakeholders have to be open and understand each others point of view and here too PV can catalyze discussion and debate. Video is in these setting a great tool for communication.

PV can also be a way to document lokal knowledge, for example farmer knowledge, that can be spread to other villages or a region. PV can help to make a audiovisual product that is more relevant for the farmers who will watch the video. This way of sharing and distribution knowledge will be cheaper then moving farmers around in a bus to visit all the other villages (also a farmer can often not be away from home too long). With more and more multi media centre's being created in rural area's, distribution will become more easy and succesful.

All these PV examples can be very succesfull if guided /facilitated well. You cannot just dump a camera in a remote village in the Amazon and wait what wonderfull TV programs will be maid. As it is not usefull to dump pens and books in illiterate farmer communities.

So I hope this is usefull to you. How many people are reading this by the way? Do you care? Is it important for you?

We should have talked more about money (although this is a dirty word in Wageningen). What does an average PV project cost? How much are donors /organisations like CTA or IICD willing to invest in it and on what conditions?

Our 3 year project in the Amazon for example costed about 50.000 euro, payed by DGIS who was interested in this experiment.
I think it was perfectly worth it since the project has given a face to the Tanimuka and they themselves gave new insight in their own thoughts on mapping, selfgovernance , authonomy in education systems etc. The audiovisual outputs had great effect on decisionmaking far away in the capital of Bogata.

Scale is important! I fully agree with the Director of CTA. In the case of the Amazon project we also made a professional film about the PV project which was broadcasted world-wide. So it reached many people. And a DVD of it was actively distributed amongst relevant decisionmakers.

So to deal with scale, I advice to mix approaches, for example embedd the PV material into a professional TV or audiovisual program.

Anyway multi media approaches are always the best if you really want change.

It was great to have a chance to meet you all and exchange thoughts. I will try to create my own blog. I like it, thanks Joitske! Alkways nice to learn something new.

Huub Ruijgrok
Director World Report Foundation

Joitske said...

Thanks Huub, sometimes blogs are still more public than I imagine :). Reading your (long) comment made me think it is already a blogpost, so please let me know when you will start your own blog!

I agree on the scaling or purpose. I think GINKS has a great purpose being a network interested in sharing information and best practices.

As for downloading, I think we can do much more with eg, video ipods, so that the people who DO have good access to the internet can download and share. working on integrated various modes.

Keep in touch! By the way there is a yahoo group on video-blogging that I just joined.

Unknown said...

Hi Joitske,
I was thinking of going to this meeting, since we are thinking of starting some experiments with participatory video. thanks for summarizing the meeting,