A participatory video workshop organized by MELCA and funded by the Gaia Foundation in collaboration with the European Commission (EC) was held at MELCA’s Bale project area from 23-27 Sep. 2013.
Participatory video is a form of participatory media in which members of a community create their own film.
The idea behind this is that making a video is easy and accessible, and is a great way of bringing people together to explore issues, voice concerns or simply to tell stories in a creative and attractive way. The PV process, if applied effectively, can be very empowering-enabling a group or community to take their own action to solve their own problems. It also enables them to communicate their needs and ideas to decision-makers and/or other groups and communities.
A Participatory Video carried out in an effective way becomes a powerful means of documenting local people’s experiences, needs and hopes from their own perspectives. It initiates a process of analysis and change that celebrates local knowledge and practice, whilst stimulating creativity both within and beyond the community. Further more, PV gives a voice and a face to those who are normally not heard or seen, even in participatory programs.
Participants of the PV training at Bale were information documentation and communication practitioners in government communication offices at the various levels, and schoolteachers in charge of coordinating school mini-medias. These participants, though they are supposed to record, document and disseminate through the various media different events and information in the community and schools, are not trained in camera shooting and have no adequate skills of using video and photo cameras as well as basic editing knowledge. So the training was meant to build the capacity of these participants on the use of photo and video cameras to capture, document and disseminate various events and other information. They are also trained on basic video editing skills they may apply during documentations.
Getting acquainted with the basic interfaces and applications of a video camera, basic camera shooting skills such as framing the object and avoiding chopping offs, controlling balance of light, avoiding shocks during recording, voice audibility and avoiding unnecessary background sound were among the fundamental introductory courses given to the participants.
On top of that, the participants were introduced to the various types of shots such as wide, long, close up, extreme close up …etc as well as the various shooting angles. Then the trainees were given cameras per group to let them practice the various types of shots and shooting angles on any object they are interested in. This was then followed by the screening of each of the shots by the trainees to be commented on to let them learn from their strong sides and weaknesses.
Planning a film and making storyboards were also the other aspects of the training. They were allowed to practice, in groups, to make a film story of up to five minutes and they put same on storyboard before going out for the actual shots. Then each of the group went out to the sites they are interested in filming and recorded a film story that lasts up to 5 minutes as per the storyboard they made.
The PV process was also accompanied by an introduction to basic film editing skills and how to put different footages together to make a full story.
Finally, the participants chose a theme entitled “Nature and Culture of Goba zone in Bale” for their final film making project to thoroughly practice the basic skills of camera shooting they got during the three days training.
Then the participants were split in to two groups-one group to film the nature aspect of Goba zone and the other to film the culture part.
After almost two half days of film shooting in the field the groups came back with all the footages they collected and started to be engaged in assembling the various footages through editing to make a full film story. Then the nature and culture part of the film, which were collected and edited by the respective group were assembled together to make one full film of two parts.
Finally, at the end of the fourth day, a 25-minute film describing the nature and culture of Goba zone in Bale was produced by the trainees and screened at the wrapping up stage of the training.
A total of 20 participants comprising of information and documentation practitioners in government communication offices at kebele, woreda and zonal levels as well as teachers in charge of coordinating mini-media services in secondary and junior secondary schools in the project areas have attended the training.
In the feedback they gave at the end of the training, almost all the trainees expressed that they have acquired the basic filming and editing skills that they need to make short documentary and news story films in their respective communities. The only shortcoming of the training, as stated by the trainees, was a shortage of time to learn all the details of shooting a good footage and editing to put all the footages in a meaningful and attractive order.