Participatory Video

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Participatory Video = Collective filming and editing, controlled by communities


"Participatory Video enhances research and development activity by handing over control to the target communities from project conception through to implementation, monitoring and evaluation. We believe that opening communication channels for project recipients is the key to developing successful participant-led projects with sustainable and far-reaching impacts.

Participatory Video in a Nutshell

  • Participants rapidly learn how to use video equipment through games & exercises.
  • Facilitators help groups identify & analyse important issues in their community by adapting a range of PRA-type tools with Participatory Video techniques.
  • Short videos & messages are directed & filmed by participants.
  • Footage is shared with the wider community at daily screenings.
  • A dynamic process of community-led learning, sharing and exchange is set in motion.
  • Completed films can be used for horizontal and vertical communication"



The I Witness project, see


From the Wikipedia [1]:

"How does Participatory Video differ from documentary filmmaking?

Whilst there are forms of documentary filmmaking that are able to sensitively represent the realities of their subjects' lives and even to voice their concerns, documentary films very much remain the authored products of a documentary filmmaker. As such, the subjects of documentaries rarely have any say (or sometimes have some limited say) in how they will ultimately be represented. By contrast, in PV the subjects make their own film in which they can shape issues according to their own sense of what is important, and they can also control how they will be represented. Additionally, documentary films are often expected to meet stringent aesthetic standards and are usually made with a large audience in mind. The PV process, on the other hand, is less concerned with appearance than with content, and the films are usually made with particular audiences and objectives in mind.

What are the origins of Participatory Video?

The first experiments in PV were the work of Don Snowden, a Canadian who pioneered the idea of using media to enable a people-centered community development approach. This took place in 1967 on the Fogo Islands, with a small fishing community off the eastern coast of Newfoundland. By watching each other’s films, the different villagers on the island came to realise that they shared many of the same problems and that by working together they could solve some of them. The films were also shown to politicians who lived too far away and were too busy to actually visit the island. As a result of this dialogue, government policies and actions were changed. The techniques developed by Snowden became known as the Fogo process. Snowden went on to apply the Fogo process all over the world until his death in India in 1984.

Since then, there has been no uniform movement to promote and practise PV but different individuals and groups have set up pockets of PV work, usually molding it to their particular needs and situations. PV has also grown with the increasing accessibility of home video equipment." (

More Information

Wikipedia article at

"Insights into Participatory Video: A handbook for the field" , at

"The UK/France-based Insight has just released a field guide to participatory video (PV). The guide lays out instructions through text, illustration and photography to assist amateur videographers in setting up PV projects regardless of their location.

Insight's work focuses on empowering individuals and communities to give voice to their experience by learning about the tools and processes required to direct, film, and produce videos. Much of their work involves applying video techniques to Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) practices, which encompass a broad range of local, collaborative methods for assessment and planning in communities both rural and urban.

This of course runs quite parallel to the work of Witness and other efforts to expose injustice through local, participatory video. While Insight's work goes more in-depth on the entire video-making process, their globally-applicable handbook may prove informative even for capturing more on-the-fly footage through developments such as Witness's mobile phone project, which enables citizens to document human rights violations through cameraphone recordings, as well as environmental data documentation, as Jamais mentioned with the idea of Earth Witness." (