Participatory video is a process in which a group of people create a film to help make sense of the world around them. They may be exploring a specific subject, addressing a problem or telling a story. Participants collaboratively plan, film and edit the video. An important part of the process is reflecting on the video produced. With participatory video, there are many learning opportunities regardless of one’s film experience or level of literacy.
In 1967-68, the National Film Board of Canada created the first participatory video with the Fogo Film Experiment. Isolated fishing villages off the coast of Newfoundland were able to see and hear one another for the first time. Community members participated in the planning and, when the films were shown in neighbouring villages, audience members had an opportunity to reflect and respond to the films and the community challenges identified in the films. The 27 short films were used as a tool to stimulate conversations, record opinions and share information with others.
Flash forward 50 years! Today, hands-on participatory video workshops with user-friendly equipment can make anyone a filmmaker. Participatory video workshops can help participants to articulate their ideas, gain new literacy skills and, most importantly, reflect on the process of creating the video. Participatory video workshops produce amazing results because participants have an opportunity to work with new people in a fun and encouraging environment while exploring something meaningful to them. It is a creative and collaborative process.
The participatory video process has great potential as a learning tool. It enables all people to communicate their ideas. This technology allows us to slow down the world around us and live in the moment - literally one frame at a time.
For more information about the participatory video process, contact CBAL Community Literacy Coordinator, Bridget Uhl. She has been a participatory video facilitator for five years and recently completed her Masters in Comparative Media Arts at Simon Fraser University where her field of study was Participatory Process in Film.
Community Literacy Coordinator
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy - Valemount