Participatory Video (PV) is a method of film production in which a group of people or a community make a film together to explore an issue that is important to them, create dialogue, and give a platform to unheard voices. What makes it different from conventional filmmaking methods is that the participants are fundamentally involved in every stage and aspect of the filmmaking process and production.
Participatory video has been an established method of film production for over 50 years but the rise in accessibility to Information Communication Technologies (ICT) such as smartphones and the internet, gives new momentum to the possibilities of using PV remotely, in which the process is facilitated online.
Watch this video, 'An Introduction to Remote Participatory Video' to find out more...
You can also find out more about the Donald Snowden’s first participatory video, called the Fogo experiment (Eyes See; Ears Hear) from 1969, on the Canadian Fogo Islands here...
This article is written with the intention of sparking ideas about how you can use Remote Participatory Video in your projects and programmes. The list is not exhaustive, and you can find out much more by joining our upcoming Remote Participatory Video training course!
Whilst the use of reports in organisations working in the international development sector are invaluable for ensuring records are kept for monitoring progress, evaluating projects and processes, and learning from mistakes, there is a rise in the use of participatory video for M&E to compliment or replace report writing to communicate messages using the voices of people that these reports directly affect.
As touched on in the previous point, RPV gives a platform to those most affected by humanitarian crises around the world, to give their perspective and understanding of the issues they face, and how projects and support could enable them to have a safer future. As well as communicating messages of the needs of different people, RPV also enables stories of success to be told by those who have seen major changes to challenges they were facing, spreading messages of positivity and encouragement to further enact change.
An alternative method to tackling injustice at a national or international level, by uniting people in their common interests to enact large-scale change, bringing influential words from those in need of support to the front of campaigns and movements meeting with authorities.
Encourage two-way conversations between those in need of support, those who can provide support and any other groups involved in projects. Building relationships is key to creating positive change and participatory video is a great way for people to start those conversations that create partnerships. Increasing stakeholder dialogue also increases accountability and transparency, for example in the case of a donor, they may want to know what support they are giving through the work of the project, and at the same time, those in need of support may want to know where their support is coming from. Opening up the dialogue between the stakeholders involved, encourages transparency and accountability.
Some social and environmental issues are complex and the intricacies of them can be lost in reports or when stories and experiences are expressed only in the form of numerical data. By creating a platform that encourages spoken word of these issues, people can express in their own words the everyday challenges, big or small, that they face, and how they can be best supported by people and organisations to bring about positive change for them.
RPV can be used to spread the word and communicate changes to policies, enabling the direction and sharing of information to be informative, but engaging and interactive as well. Utilising RPV in this way can also help access issues which need policy review in a direct and involved way. Sometimes surface level research about the support needed for communities misses integral and complex issues, which can be better reached by on the ground, direct reporting through participatory video.
Different groups of people may find participatory video more accessible and beneficial than others, and with an increase in the use of technology globally, younger people in particular may have a growing interest. Considering the popularity of video and social media amongst young people, lessons in production and utilising video, not just for entertainment but for positive social and environmental change, could reach a new demographic of people and inspire a new generation of thinkers.
As well as enabling youth groups to learn about the production of video and how it can be used to bring about change, it can also be a key learning point about people in the world facing different challenges and the support they need. Using video in this way can help youth understand international development in terms they are familiar with, using a method and media they already have an understanding of. Education through RPV is not just about film, but about how it can be used in the most influential and beneficial way.
Participatory video is all about the participation of different people within a community and their collaboration to harvest ideas about change, to work towards a common goal. Instead of the few making decisions on issues affecting certain people, whole communities or groups can collaborate and work together on a project that aims to help the whole community, sharing knowledge and ideas for a common goal.
Have you ever thought, that if a community trying to encourage better hygiene and sanitation, could inform one another with the use of video, capturing the issues they are facing themselves, whether that message would be better received than if from external visitors? Community-based communication and the sharing of local information by local people is a powerful way of encouraging positive change by advising others of important campaigns, announcements and policies without the feeling of a top-down approach.
Many people around the world have access to a camera phone. Many will know how to capture important moments or experiences with their camera, but not everyone will be using the tools they have in their back pocket to capture these important messages and use them to create positive change. RPV is not about the use of fancy camera equipment, it makes use of technology that is accessible to the majority, to provide a platform for the voices of those in crisis or overcoming challenges, to be heard, allowing them to tell their stories and experiences in their own words.
More information about our Remote Participatory Video training course here:
Or get in touch to find out about how we can offer tailored training to suit your needs.
If you would like more inspiration, please watch this video from course facilitator, Simon Koolwijk...
Videocast client interview with Corinna Philpott, MEAL advisor and Washington Sati, PV facilitator