Participatory video (PV) involves a range of video production and screening activities, which drive an evolving process of exploration and dialogue on shared issues. It can be empowering because it provides an accessible way for a group to take action on their own concerns, through deepening their understanding, engaging and motivating their wider community, and also shaping and creating their own films, in order to communicate their messages and perspectives to decision-makers and the public.
PV is an interactive group process, generally facilitated by a practitioner, which builds participants capacity to communicate to others. Group members record themselves and the world around them, and communicate their own stories creatively.
Practitioners use filming and playback activities to mediate group discussion inclusively, establish collaborative relationships and catalyse group action. Video production provides a powerful way for participants to explore their situation, and reflect on experiences together, in order to deepen understanding about reality and forge ways forward based on the knowledge that emerges.
Stages of a PV process
- PV processes starts by opening up spaces for the group to engage in a ‘safe’ environment, followed by group building exercises and video work to establish a shared purpose and collaboration amongst the group. This internal process provides time for group exploration and reflection on the issues in confidence, before communicating to external audiences.
- Next, groups produce video material to stimulate dialogue with peers, outside of the immediate group. Storyboarding helps to develop a strong collective story.
- Editing the film is a key stage in the process. Paper edits are used to minimise the complexity of digital editing and allow for a more participatory process. An editing workshop also includes learning the basics of digital video editing and producing final versions of films.
- Groups share the films with each other and also plan how to use their films to generate debate and communicate with external audiences. The development of a communication strategy for the films is an important component of the process as it requires considering what can be communicated, to who and when—and the risks that might be involved.
Learning together for change through participatory video
“It was a lovely experience to work with people that you didn’t know and see how this and that person speaks. You learn from each others ideas”. Woman participatory video researcher from Al-Jib Occupied Palestine
Work with us is a 20-minute film produced in collaboration with communities around the world as part of the Participate initiative (participate2015.org). The middle section of the film shows the process of participatory video, and how it is empowering for women in Occupied Palestine, and how learning together builds confidence and enables self-expression: See section 8m 54s – 12m 08s
The purpose of the film is to illustrate the kinds of knowledge that emerge through participatory research and also show how change can happen. It highlights the need for ongoing commitment, involvement, and support from decision-makers for collaborative dialogue and action.