I love making media with young people. I love watching people tell their own stories, become inspired to create, and lose their inhibitions as they learn how to use equipment. With a little time and energy, a pencil, video camera, or audio recorder can easily be turned into a powerful tool for transformation, connection, and organisation.
I spent Friday May 14th until Monday May 17th at one of El Salvador’s most beautiful beaches making videos with 25 young people from various Progressio partner organisations. People came from various regions in the country, urban and rural, as representatives of youth and women’s organisations that work with Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña (UNES), Asociación de Desarrollo Económico Santa Marta (ADES), and Instituto de la Mujer (IMU).
These groups were invited because they have all been involved in media workshops with Progressio development workers and have different levels of experience and practice to share with each other. We also saw this invitation as a way to validate the work they are doing and encourage them to continue.
|Participants in the media workshops|
We used a methodology that is part of a worldwide artistic movement called ‘Kino’, where video lovers come together in ‘Kabarets’ to make video shorts in little time and with little resources. Kino is based on the values of everyone sharing resources and responsibilities: everyone pitches in towards the necessary steps to make a short – acting, makeup and costumes, scripting and storyboarding, video shooting, and editing.
What I love about this methodology is the value of working with whatever resources you have, and of valuing the entire process of making a video (the collaboration, team work, and fun), not just the final product.
The participants usually make media about issues like climate change, mining, deforestation, youth rights, HIV and AIDS, and sexism. For our youth media-making retreat we decided to make media about whatever subjects people wanted, and I found it interesting that in the end, all the videos people made were comedies: parodies of traditional Hollywood movies, a mummy on the beach, receiving a phone call from God on one’s cell phone, and what would have happened if the whole Kabaret had gone wrong.
On Friday we brainstormed ideas for the videos, formed our groups, and made the scripts and storyboards for our shorts. All day Saturday we spent running around shooting video, trying to coordinate the needs we had for actors and actresses, props and scenery, learning how to use the equipment, and learning a lot about each other along the way! Of course we took time to enjoy the setting, taking little breaks to cool off in the ocean when we could.
Sunday was editing day. Many people hadn’t edited before, so it was a chance to get to know editing programs. Then we lost electricity for six hours. Not having power to continue editing put the pressure on, but at about 10 pm we were all able to present our final videos! The waves of laughter were an affirmation that the process had been a success: we had all learned something and there were hopes and a commitment to continue the friendships that had been forged.
Each person who was at the retreat is a fabulous youth activist involved in important community and national work. To have had the opportunity to give everyone an enjoyable experience to learn, exchange, and express interest in continuing personal and organisational relationships was a gift, and I feel lucky to have been a part of the process and what’s to come.
Maggie Von Vogt is a Progressio development worker in El Salvador