Participatory Video has evolved over the last fifty years to become a powerful tool for people to explore issues and take collective action.  Our unique approach is based on decades of practice with marginalised and unheard communities around the world.  Here are the key characteristics of our work in Participatory Video:

Participatory Video

Participatory Video is a set of techniques to involve a group or community in shaping and creating 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 be creative and tell stories. This process can be very empowering, enabling a group or community to see improvements and also to communicate their needs and ideas to decision-makers and/or other groups and communities. As such, PV can be a highly effective tool to engage and mobilise people helping them implement their own forms of sustainable development based on local needs. See below for the key characteristics of our work in Participatory Video.
Watch our TedX talk 'This is not a video camera' and our animation 'What is participatory Video'.

An indigenous Yaqui woman looks at the image on a video camera

Action - Reflection - Action

We support groups to learn collaborative exploration and video production skills through a variety of simple games and exercises; developed to support participation by anyone regardless of their literacy level, physical ability, age or background.

Each time an action is performed (i.e. something is recorded) the group immediately watches the result and reflects upon the achievement it represents and any challenges they faced.  The group then determines how they will respond and re-act accordingly.  This pattern of action-reflection-action is integral to our techniques and the overall learning process that participants experience.

You can read about many of the games and exercises we utilise in our range of free guidebooks.

A group of widows support each other to make a video in northern Ghana

Collaboration and Self-Representation

The groups that join our Participatory Video workshops spend long periods of time identifying, prioritising and investigating the issues they wish to tackle.  They decide what to say and who to say it to.

The group then work together to collectively devise, plan and produce their video(s).  Participants film and (typically) edit everything themselves; controlling how they, and their views, are represented.  They decide what to show, why, where, when and to whom.  Production roles are constantly rotated - from camera operation to director and interviewer - to ensure everyone has equal opportunity to experience all aspects of the process and take key decisions.

Discover more about the issues being explored and the impacts achieved on our projects pages.

A group of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) from Donetsk, in the Ukraine, present their video to an audience

Call and Response

In our projects, participants typically join the process as representatives of their wider community.  This might be a geographic community (e.g. a rural village) or a community of experience/interest (e.g. urban gardeners).

The participants can report back to their community through regular screenings - of rough footage and finished productions - providing opportunities for discussions and alterations to the direction and focus of the process.  This ‘call and response’ process helps to build understanding and confidence in the activities by the wider community, and creates valuable opportunities for participants to ground their ideas and test their proposals.

Would you like to know more about organising community screenings?  We have written a detailed guide to community screenings.

Indigenous youth from Khasi Hills in North-East India edit their video on a laptop

Collective Ownership of Communication

The videos produced through our projects belong to the participants.  Depending on the intentions of the group, the videos may be used for a range of purposes: advocacy, awareness-raising, knowledge-sharing, evaluation, consultation, action research etc.

Groups typically grant us (the facilitators), and the project partners/funders, permission to share their videos; helping to ensure their voices are heard by the right people.  The terms are determined by the participants, which usually allow and encourage free sharing by anyone for non-commercial purposes.

Would you like to watch videos produced by groups around the world on a range of key issues?  You can browse hundreds of unique videos on our YouTube channel.

Many hands work together with pens to create a colourful 'River of Life' drawing in Sonora, Mexico

Diverse Participatory Techniques

Our approach to Participatory Video incorporates a wide variety of complimentary techniques, including:

  • Participatory Learning and Action (PLA)
  • Visualisation In Participatory Practices (VIPP)
  • Non-Violent Communication (NVC)
  • Design Thinking
  • Theatre of the Oppressed

To discover more about these techniques, and Participatory Video in general, take a look at our resources section or contact us for a chat.

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