Imagine: you’re running an international research network and suddenly – a pandemic hits! All international travel is on hold for up to two years! It’s your worst nightmare. You’ve got researchers who are supposed to be flying in from all over the globe for a week-long retreat or training workshop! What can you do?
This was the predicament numerous Universities found themselves in, but they found ways to adapt and continue projects – many turned to Spectacle’s Bespoke Training Workshops to help them creatively solve problems.
The training we will provide is for the researchers focusing on sustainable cities. Researchers will join online from cities around the world including Oxford, Beijing, Bangalore, Cape Town and Medellin.
Spectacle’s training will give these researchers the skills to film with a more professional production quality and edit with an eye for narrative flow. Going forward, this will enable them to make short videos to effectively communicate their research to a larger audience.
Does this sound like the kind of training you or your organisation might benefit from?
Bespoke Training for Academics
When it comes to making videos, the just ‘point and shoot’ method only works if you are extremely lucky. From inaudible audio, to interviewees that clam up as soon as they see a camera, to takes ruined by continuous autofocusing – the pitfalls are innumerable.
When looking to make video, academics have unique needs. They aren’t looking to become documentary filmmakers. They aren’t looking to invest in overly expensive filming equipment. They won’t have a large support crew to help with filming. And the need to make a final project where the medium (and mistakes) don’t distract from the message.
Spectacle is an award-winning independent media company that specialises in documentary, community-led investigative journalism, and participatory media.
We have been leaders in Participatory Video (PV) practice and community engagement for more than thirty years, and offer training and workshops in every aspect of digital filmmaking.
We offer affordable, accessible, and enjoyable film, media, and video training. No prior knowledge needed! Learn what you really need to know to make quality videos with us.
The project’s events, which were held online due to the pandemic, included a public premier of a new fully German version of ‘The Truth Lies in Rostock’. The screening was followed by a Q&A with director Mark Saunders, which focused on the participatory production process through which the film was created. For more about the process or the archive footage, see the bottom of this post.
This screening also launched a unique workshop designed to connect Rostock’s past, present, and future.
The Truth Lies in Rostock
This 1993 film depicts the events which occurred in August 1992, at the Lichtenhagen estate in Rostock, in the former East Germany. Over the course of three nights, a fascist crowd assembled. The police withdrew as the mob petrol bombed a refugee centre and the home of Vietnamese guest workers while 3000 spectators stood by and clapped.
The film uses material filmed from inside the attacked houses and interviews with anti-fascists, the Vietnamese guest workers, police, bureaucrats, neo-nazis and residents. Through these perspectives, a story of political collusion and fear unfolds.
Thirty years later the question has become, how can the memory of the ‘Lichtenhagen Pogrom’ help fight new waves of fascism in Germany?
Participatory Video Workshop
This two-day participatory video workshop offered the chance for young adults from Rostock to dig into the film’s questions about the nature of fascism, racism, and the roles and responsibilities of the city, state, and federal governments.
By working with archive footage and filming a live commemorative demonstration, the workshop was designed to bridge the past and present issues of racism and anti-racism in Rostock. The workshop’s second aim was to offer new skills in media and filmmaking to these young adults.
The workshop launched the weekend of August 20th. A group of young Rostockers were split in two groups, one working with archive footage, and one filming the live demonstration.
Before the workshop began, Spectacle digitized a portion of our extensive archive footage from 1992. The material selected was of the anti-nazi demonstration that followed the pogrom. This group worked with Spectacle to edit a new short film from the material.
Meanwhile, the rest of the participants went as a small group to film an event which echoed the archive material – the Lichtenhagen Commemorative Bicycle Demonstration. This group of participants learned about filming techniques and edited footage from the demonstration into a short film which focused on the landmarks which have been built to commemorate the events thirty years before.
Read more about the project from the German perspective.
The Aims of the Project
Provide a safe space for reflection about the events in Lichtenhagen, specifically for different groupings that were involved in the events at the time. This includes, but is not limited to the Vietnamese community in Rostock, some of whom had to fear for their lives and lost their homes in the events, and Rostock residents, some of whom were appalled at the unfolding events and other who were cheering at, or maybe even participating in the attacks.
Provide skills training in workshops, teaching participants how to use video cameras, record sound, and conduct interviews.
Potentially encouraging dialogue between diverse groups and contributing to a more sustainable community through a process of reconciliation.
Preserving the oral history of the 1992 events by creating Zeitzeugen (witness/bystander) documentation for future generations, through the production of a series of films including original as well as new footage. These footage shot in these workshops will be made available online as well as on DVD and can be used to educate younger generations.
Spectacle has an extensive archive of footage from Rostock between 1991-93. The archive grew out of a programme of participatory video workshops run by Spectacle. After the unification of Germany, all the East German media outlets were taken over or replaced with Western media. Spectacle’s series of open workshops were designed to establish an independent, community-based media group in Rostock and to document the effects of unification on the city.
All participants in the workshops were beginners, with little experience in photography or filmmaking. The practical exercises concentrated on how the unification was changing the physical urban landscape. At the close of the first sessions, each participant was interviewed about their experiences as well as their hopes and fears of “Die Wende” the unification of Germany.
One of the objectives of the workshops was to establish a community media group to that end we formed the Jako Media Co-op. Just six months later Jako E.V. and Spectacle would rejoin to make ‘The Truth Lies in Rostock’.
The production process created over 200 hours of footage that did not appear in the final edit of the film. These scenes of daily life in 1991-1993 have become an historic archive of the city at that volatile time. The aim of the 2020 project was to re-work and revisit this archive together with a new generation of Rostockers who were not even born at the time of the pogrom.
Spectacle is currently a partner in a research project developing a groundbreaking remote PV method. The research project Reinventada is funded by the London School of Economics (LSE) Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund (KEI). It investigates the condition of displaced and migrant women, especially mothers and heads of household, living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Medellin (Colombia).
The research was initially planned to produce a participatory documentary on women’s ‘right to the city’ in Medellin. However, as soon as the pandemic crisis exploded, being well aware that women are amongst the most affected groups of people during emergencies and disasters, we were able to create a remote participatory project that investigates the impact of COVID-19 on participants’ everyday lives in poorer areas of the city.
Started in May 2020, the project was originally planned to be conducted face-to-face, but was forced online due to the pandemic. It is led by dr. Sonja Marzi, the Principal Investigator from the Department of Methodology at LSE, as well as supported on the ground by two Colombian partners: Maria Fernanda Carrillo, a sociologist and filmmaker, and Lina Maria Zuluaga, anthropologist.
The aim of this research project is to create a documentary filmed and edited by the women themselves to depict their daily lives during the pandemic.
Online Participatory Video
We began initially by training the participants on how to best use web platforms and available technology. We set up weekly ‘Zoom’ meetings that served as an online space for workshops on filming techniques and how to use their smartphones to capture high quality video. Zoom meetings became the workshop space where all production and editorial decisions were discussed and made in consensus. The production meetings are chaired by participants on a rotating basis. We discussed film content, planned shoots, reviewed and critiqued the footage together, and collaborated on editing the final documentary.
The groundbreaking project has successfully adapted Spectacle’s Participatory Video methods and techniques to an online environment. The short documentary Reinventadas was released at the end of 2020 and premiered in film festivals in 2021.
Spectacle has a long history of establishing and supporting participatory community media workshops and a large number of our productions have adopted participatory video (PV) techniques and ethos, resulting in an excellent track record of high quality, award-winning TV documentaries, short films and powerful campaigning videos. We are happy to inform everyone interested in applying a participatory media approach into their community based projects, that it is now possible to share Spectacle’s experience taking part in our Participatory Video Workshop (PVW).
Spectacle has made extensive use of Participatory Video as a successful strategy to involve communities in production processes, allowing people to produce knowledge about themselves rather than being represented – and often misrepresented – by outsiders.
Recently one of the films that Spectacle produced through participatory techniques has been re-screened on the Pepys Estate: “Poverty and the Media: the tower”. The film shows the way in which local residents have felt misrepresented by the BBC ’s program The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities. The BBC’s program intended to document the transformation of the Lewisham council estate into a chic development and the alleged clash between rich newcomers and poor long term residents. Spectacle, was commissioned by the Rowntree Foundation to develop a participatory video project in the Pepys and other estates in the area: “Poverty and participation in the Media“. At the time the BBC project begun, Spectacle was already organizing video workshops that focused specifically on the way mainstream media (mis)represent poverty. In our film Pepys residents have filmed each other while commenting on the effects the BBC’s program had on their lives. Spectacle’s “Poverty and the media: the Tower” illustrates the advantages of a participatory approach, highlighting the local dynamics in a way that is factually accurate and respectful of people’s feelings, intentions and views on the world they experience.
Following the very positive feedbacks from residents and in order to meet the growing demand from community based researchers to be trained to lead participatory projects, we are happy to inform you that we are now offering a Participatory Video Workshop (PVW). Our PVW is addressed to social workers, NGOs’ and charity organization’s staff that are engaged in community development and empowerment, artists and, in general, anyone who wants to integrate participatory methods in their own projects. Based on our long experience, the PVW will provide you with practical and transferrable knowledge on video techniques, and train you on how to engage your stakeholders in participatory productions.
The PVW is designed as 3 day immersive experience that will allow you to use participatory methods in documentation, evaluation and research. If you and your staff are particularly interested in specific topics, we are happy to bring our workshop to you and tailor it to your specific needs.
Please, find here our workshop description or get in touch for further information.
The Silwood Video Group continued this week as workshops were held on Tuesday in the Silverlock Centre and around the estate. We were able to conduct our usual sound and video workshops, taking new location shots around Silwood and engaging with residents curious about our work. This was followed by a screening in the Silverlock centre from 6 to 8, and preparations were discussed for a joint celebration of the culmination of the Silwood project and Spectacle’s eleventh anniversary of filming on the estate. Watch this space!
This week’s workshops will take place as per usual on Tuesday 22nd March, with location filming around the estate from 4.00 to 6.00 and screenings from 6.30 to 8.00 PM at the Silverlock Centre. Newcomers are welcome, and we look forward to seeing you there
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