Spectacle’s Recent Work

For 40 years, Spectacle has pioneered community led video projects and collaborative filmmaking, aiming to give groups and communities the tools and the skills to document what matters through collaborative video projects. Spectacle has led, co-led, and facilitated participatory film groups and workshops of all shapes and sizes. 

We have delivered our affordable and enjoyable courses in participatory filmmaking to hundreds of researchers, journalists, and community groups.

Over the last year Spectacle has successfully developed ways to facilitate participatory video workshops remotely, working with researchers from UCL, Oxford, and LSE, and community groups ranging from Colombia to London to Malawi. 

Workshops and Projects

Reinventadas – London School of Economics, LSE

This remote Participatory Video project, called Reinventada, was based in Medellin, Colombia. The research project was funded by the London School of Economics (LSE) Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund (KEI). Through weekly workshops, displaced and migrant women learned the skills of filming and editing and documented their lives as mothers and heads of household, living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Medellin, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The film that came from this research premiered in October 2021 at The International Documentary Film Festival of Bogotá. 

OVERDUE – University College London, UCL

Kingtom landfill, Freetown, source: Sulaiman Kamara, SLURC, 2020
Photo by: Sulaiman Kamara, 2020
Image from https://overdue-justsanitation.net/

Spectacle is running a series of training workshops for researchers at UCL working on the OVERDUE project, which is tackling sanitation inequality in three fast-growing African cities:  Beira (Mozambique), Freetown (Sierra Leone), and Mwanza (Tanzania). 

Our training in participatory video method offers an excellent resource for disrupting dominant narratives and cliches, or for understanding the impact of a project such as OVERDUE, by asking the beneficiaries to document the impact in their daily lives. 

GemDev – University College London, UCL

Lima, Image from GEMDev.net

Tracing the story of where we get our energy is one very important way to understand a society. For researchers from UCL’s Grounded Energy Modelling for equitable urban development in the global South (GEMDev) project – tracing community’s energy use using oral histories and visual storytelling is key to understanding what energy means in impromptu communities. 

EcoVisions 

In June 2021, Spectacle had the opportunity to work with Dr. Michelle Nicholson-Sanz and provide video training for the participants in her innovative Young Ecovisions project

The Silwood Video Archive Project 

The Silwood Video Archive Project marries participatory methods with video archive material in a series of narrative building workshops supported by The Audience Agency’s Digitally Democratising Archives project thanks to funding from DCMS and the National Lottery, as part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative.

Greenwich Community Video Skills Workshops – Greenwich Council 

In June, Spectacle began an online participatory video workshop series for a group of residents and community leaders in Greenwich. This programme of 8 half day workshops was designed to build the skills and capacity of the diverse Greenwich communities to co-produce media. 

Spectacle Master Class on Participatory Video

In February, Spectacle was invited to give a Master Class at the Italian National School of Participatory Video and Documentary Cinema.

Oxford COMPAS Researchers

In January, Spectacle ran a bespoke training course for The Oxford Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS). 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.

Book your Training Workshop

Spectacle offers bespoke training either one-on-one or to groups. These can be arranged to fulfil your specific needs. Bespoke training can be built around your project so you can book sessions at your convenience and get the advice you need.


Spectacle Media bespoke training courses

We work in any time zone globally. Browse our courses, or email training@spectacle.co.uk for information on bespoke workshops.

Check out our courses: Participatory Video, Anthropology and Social Research, Filmmaking, Video Production, Marketing, Editing, and Smartphone Video.

Ecovisions in Malawi


In June 2021, Spectacle had the opportunity to work with Dr. Michelle Nicholson-Sanz and provide video training for the participants in her innovative Young Ecovisions project

Dr. Nicholson-Sanz is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London . 

During the pandemic she launched a call for young people around the world to share their ecovision – an idea for how to improve their environment and engender greater sustainability in their community. Four finalists were selected, two from India, one from Malawi, and one from England. 

Fanny Chidoola from Lilongwe, Malawi whose Ecovision was selected

Dr. Nicholson-Sanz reached out to Spectacle as the second half of this ambitious project began: developing the ecovision of the finalist from Malawi, Fanny Chidoola. In order to realise Fanny’s ecovision, she partnered with Malawian forestry science student Khumbo Matemba. Fanny and Khumbo would be mentored by Dr Nicholson-Sanz to stage a theatrical performance to encourage the stakeholders in their area to realise the changes needed. The performance would be filmed and this material, as well as further footage collected by participants, would become a final short film detailing the ecovision and it’s progress.

As Dr. Nicholson-Sanz lives in Kent, England, the actual filming would need to be done by the participants on the ground in Malawi, and with a limited budget the participants would be making the most of the camera they already had in their hands in the form of a smartphone. 

Participants were able to upgrade the capacity of their smartphone with tripods and additional memory cards. 


Spectacle has been developing a training programme for just such remote smartphone based video research projects. Anyone who has tried knows, it can be difficult to achieve good quality videos on a smartphone, and even more difficult to record footage which can be easily edited. Through a series of participatory workshops, Spectacle worked to upgrade the capabilities of the participants’ smartphones affordably, and offered clear guidance on best practices and filming techniques. 

Participants such as Fanny Chidoola learned to film interviews
Demonstrating how to achieve good exposure using a smartphone 


By the end of the workshop series, the participants felt ready to use their smartphones to record the performances, instruct others on how to get the best results from their smartphones, and already had recorded a good bit of quality footage of self interviews, location footage, and interviews with other stakeholders on the ground. 

Khumbo Matemba reviews framing and technique of a self-shot interview 


We are very excited to see the final short film from Dr. Nicholson-Sanz’s Young Ecovisions project when it premiers. 

If you are running or considering starting a participatory video project, consider the possibilities of Spectacle’s training workshops for your participants or yourself. We conduct our training remotely, in almost any timezone, and using any equipment available from smartphones to camcorders. We have worked with hundreds of academics, researchers, and community organisations and received very positive feedback on our approach and the results that our trainees can achieve with their cameras after just a few workshops. 

Participants such as learned to film location and action shots in their town

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Collaborate on a Participatory Project

 

Participatory Training & Production Hybrid 

Are you an NGO or Community Centre or organisation looking to include your participants in the making of compelling videos addressing their interests and concerns? Why not engage them in a participatory video project? Spectacle has successfully adopted collaborative documentary making models for over 40 years, including award-winning participatory documentaries that have been broadcast on national and international television. We can design hybrid training-production programmes which will give you the best aspects of a collaboratively-directed film combined with professional quality production. 

We offer:

1) Training in shooting and editing film for you and/or your participants

2) Our professional shooting and editing services 

3) A final short film and a fast turn around participatory project 

Why Participatory? 

Because every community is different, there is no single participatory process model. The goal is to create a space which is open to equal participation, sharing, and creating for a community. By giving artistic and editorial control to non-professionals, the final results are vibrant and multifaceted. The participatory video process centres the lived experiences of many people. 

The benefits this can offer from a research standpoint are obvious. Whether you want to understand people’s experiences or just build community, a participatory project can be a joyful experience of co-creation and co-authorship of knowledge and art.

Spectacle has a long history of participatory work. From Germany to Colombia and across the UK we have led, co-led, and facilitated participatory film groups and workshops both in person and online for groups of all shapes and sizes. 

Why Spectacle?  

For over 40 years Spectacle has worked with groups that want to begin participatory projects. From setting up community video groups to facilitating ESRC funded participatory research projects. Further we’ve run workshops for people around the world online and in person and trained hundreds of people in our methods. 

Spectacle is an award winning independent television production company specialising in documentary, community-led, investigative journalism and participatory media. Spectacle’s documentary work has been broadcast and exhibited internationally. We have produced work on commission for clients including Amnesty International, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Howard League for Penal Reform, Council of Europe, Groundwork, the London Health Commission, the NHS, Big Local and the Wellcome Trust.

As well as undertaking productions, Spectacle runs short, sharp, affordable training courses and community based media workshops. We believe our courses are the best around, largely based on the exceptional feedback we have received from the hundreds of people we have trained over the years.

We are a small, socially-minded company, our training and commissioned work income supports our unfunded community based work. 

How do I begin a participatory video project?

We are offering a bundle of services that will guide your staff through a specifically designed programme of training and production based on your video project. There are many options for how we could design your programme together. We can accommodate any time zone where your participants might be located. 

We can offer practical workshops on video making. These bespoke training workshops can be tailored to the needs of the client including: a variety of cameras including smartphones, DSLRs, camcorders, etc; visual storytelling including storyboarding or idea generation; filming techniques guaranteed to generate quality footage.

We can teach you how to teach your participants to film, and how to run your own participatory project. 

Travel permitting, Spectacle can assist you in your real shoot. You will have complementary equipment (second camera, audio recording, lights) and extra crew if needed. 

We can train you on how to effectively use video editing software, sitting together in front of your project to get the editing process started. 

If you want professional editing, we can finalise your video with the possibile option of drop-in editing sessions.

Finally, we can guide you through uploading and promoting it on your social networks and media platforms.

We can facilitate this entire process from beginning to end, give you the skills to run it yourself, or any hybrid in between. 

Read more about our participatory model and past projects.

Contact Us

For more information or to chat about your project and ideas email us at training@spectacle.co.uk 

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