Video for Change Approaches
While Video for Change practitioners can use varied approaches and techniques to create impact, two practices are common:
- The first practice prefers ‘bottom-up’ or grassroots change. With a deep understanding of local contexts, a Video for Change practitioner doesn’t examine issues and tensions in isolation or give preference to short-term gains (such as creating a popular or viral video). Rather, practitioners work toward longer-term gains that seek positive and sustainable social change.
- The second practice emphasises a broad and holistic understanding of impact. Video for Change practitioners focus on understanding how the process of production and distribution affects people’s lives and how this process and the content can catalyse deeper forms of engagement with a campaign, issue or social movement.
Video for Change consider issues of power, participation and inclusion, accountability, and safety and security in designing for and assessing the impact of a video initiative. These considerations form a key pillar of this toolkit and can be explored further in Values and Methods.
Below you will find an overview of the different Video for Change approaches we have identified. Although each approach is categorized separately, we recognize that in reality there is overlap between them. Initiatives often use multiple approaches at the same time.
Video for Change Approaches and their Historical Contexts
Participatory, Grassroots and Community Video
- Provides access to media-making tools, technologies and training as well as access to targeted audiences
- Often focuses on addressing social inequalities and supporting marginalised groups to tell their own stories
- Engages in critical thinking/analysis (particularly in relation to development and politics)
- Allows for self-reflection and reflection on the project
- Focuses on locally led change and on collective action
- Often commits to providing local actors or participants full ownership and control over footage, as well as editing and distribution decisions
- Emphasises the importance of local knowledge
Social Documentary Video
- Usually focused on exposing a single problem/issue
- Often guided by traditional journalistic practices and principles, particularly in terms of accurate data, facts and perspectives, but incorporates aesthetic devices and interpretations
- Often aspires for broad outreach and at times also seeks broad audience participation
- Focuses on addressing specific law, policy or practice change, or influencing a particular event/ongoing situation
- Determines success or impact according to the video’s influence on specific and targeted audiences and communities based on a strategy that sets out how law, policy or practice change can come about
Communication for Development and Communication for Change
- Promotes inclusive social, economic and political development
- Supports and engages with reflective, critical discourses relating to development plans, practices and outcomes
- Can support marginalised communities to critique and have an impact on development and development projects
- Usually provides access to media tools, technologies and training as well as access to targeted audience
Citizen Journalism Video
- Supports the broader public to report on the issues that matter to them
- Values and enables the production and distribution of local news and media
- Focuses on exposing or addressing rights abuses or social injustice through the collection and circulation of visual evidence
- Can include raw video from direct witnessing of an event or personal testimony documentation
- Quickly educates and mobilises a broad audience through capturing a real-life incident that brings certain social issues to the surface
- Uses intimate and personal experience as an approach to change-making
- Focuses on personal story as a form of empowerment
- Supports people to tell their own stories, in their own voices
- Sometimes emphasises the building-up of collective memory and/or community-building through story sharing
Change-focused video memes, remixes, mashups and curated collections
- Engages with issues through media
- Can support people not directly affected by an issue (who may be located in another country) to become advocates
- Emphasises creative commons licensing (a public copyright license that allows for free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work) and the value of remix/participatory cultures
- Curated collections can focus on amplifying the reach of videos (whether online or through screening events) or serve to bring different videos together to tell a larger story
- Interaction enables the user or viewer to take an action directed by the video-maker. Examples include:
- donating to a cause from within a video
- choosing a story path or ending, which allows the viewer to consider and assess various scenarios within a community or environment
- responding to prompts or questions, allowing the viewer to be tested and educated on the material in the video
There are many types of Immersive media, though currently the most commonly used in social change initiatives are created through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
VR is the computer-generated simulation of 3D images or environments that can be experienced as if “real” using special electronic equipment, such as a headset. AR is virtual content that can be experienced or interacted with in the real world, such as digital images that ‘pop out’ of real objects.
- Places the media user ‘inside’ the experience, which conveys an idea of being in the same location and context of the community or issue depicted
- The experience creates an enhanced sense of intimacy and immediacy
- Beyond all the ethical considerations of a two-dimensional Video for Change initiative, immersive media have their own particular ethical issues:
- There is evidence to suggest virtual environments leave users more open to manipulation than 2D experiences, and that there are influences that users don’t even notice.
- The risk for ‘armchair activism’ — that is, claiming activism but not taking any real action — is greater because users feel like they’ve “been there”. This could lead to lazy or dismissive social change efforts.
- Emphasises knowledge creation and access to knowledge
- Focuses on documentation of events and histories that may otherwise be ignored or forgotten
- Takes responsibility for collecting and making videos available to the right people (may not be public access)
- Can emphasise bringing together different videos to tell a larger story about a specific issue or history
- Emphasises knowledge creation and access to knowledge
- Often plays a special role in indigenous communities by seeking to ensure local knowledge and languages are not lost
- Often focuses on ensuring people are able to record the stories and histories they feel must be told
- Can play an important role in post-violence or post-conflict reconciliation