Gathering 1: The launch – Direction from PV practitioners and enthusiasts world-wide


On the 6th May we began our collective journey towards better practice with the largest ever web gathering of participatory video practitioners, experts and enthusiasts. Leading PV practitioners took part in a launch event at the Open University, joined by 90 people from 20 different countries, including India, Australia, Canada and Nigeria. They shared their ideas and perspectives on the key questions raised, whilst adding new and challenging topics for discussion over the coming months.

“I thought I had died and gone to PV Heaven…”

This is what Tony Roberts, PV practitioner, PHD student, and alumni of our UK-based PV training course, wrote about how he felt after the face-to-face launch event of the ‘Better PV Practice’ webinar series. In his blog post he describes the event on 6th May and how much he enjoyed meeting and sharing experiences with ‘real-life PV Gurus’ such as Jackie Shaw and Clive Robertson (Real Time Video), Julia & Rick Goldsmith (Catcher Media), Nick Lunch and Gareth Benest (InsightShare), Chris High (Open University) and Christoph Warrack (OpenCinema).
Click here to read the blog.

A great start of the discussion through presentations, audience contributions…
During the morning face-to-face session, a group of 25 PV practitioners split up into 3 smaller groups to collective explore the following questions: What is PV for? What is PV today? and Where is PV going? During the web gathering they presented the outcomes of their group discussions. As these three questions are central to the web gathering series, we are keen to hear from people all over the world! We therefore invited the 90 online attendees joined to contribute to the discussion by writing their views and questions in the chat box.

What is PV today?
PV is a tool for people to learn about their environment and their issues; a tool to make links and share ideas, skills and solutions; a tool to create dialogue with, within and between marginalised groups. One of the main challenges is to translate our PV Practitioner ideals into practice and avoid raising expectations that can’t be met. How do we best learn about the impact and consequences of PV projects? What is appropriate in which place, with whom and for what purpose?

What is PV for?
Amongst the PV practitioners present at the face-to-face event there seemed to be a consensus that PV is a tool for social change: a tool for democratisation, emancipation, challenging power relationships and supporting people to work towards the change that they’d like to see through enabling people to tell their own stories in their own voices and images and by stimulating dialogue, horizontal and vertical sharing and encouraging shared ownership. At the same time PV was described as is also a tool for skills building, awareness raising and increasing peoples’ media literacy, confidence and their ability to think critically.

Where is PV going?
Going forward there is a need to build common framework, share experiences and case studies and develop an evidence library. The practitioners also expressed the hope that in future PV will have a strong focus on intent, that it will be owned, initiated and adapted by communities, that it will trigger important conversations and create safe spaces for complexities to be recognised and that it will enable people to discuss and prioritise future plans and strategies and to learn through a truly two way process.

The largest ever collective drawing exercise on PV
Interestingly, the 5 minute collective drawing exercise was the topic that most people were tweeting about during the web gathering. To represent what PV means to them, the attendees were invited to draw or write their ideas on a virtual white board. The result of this exercise was rather messy (see the below) and the ethics of the enthusiastic drawers could be questioned – as some people were writing over, or erasing other peoples’ contributions! The final image does however seem to capture the value of experimental learning and the spontaneous and positive approach of participatory video. Whilst it seems impossible to distil any concrete insights from this fun exercise, it was exciting to experience how the web gathering software allowed people based all over the world to work on something visual together.


Let’s continue this discussion together…
We have created an invitation-only free discussion group on the C4D platform. Click here to join the debate and gain access to all the resources that will be produced during the course of the web gatherings. Please take a minute to write a line or two about yourself when you sign up. The discussion forums open for your contributions include:
General PV Discussion
What does PV mean to you? What is PV for? Where is PV going?
Risks & Challenges
share your experiences and strategies


Share your knowledge, present your work and network
During the web gatherings your PV peers asked great questions. Some asked for examples of specific PV applications. Others were looking to people with experience of applying PV in a certain field or people to collaborate with. You might have relevant knowledge or experience that can help to answer their questions, maybe you know of a relevant project that they could look into, or maybe you facilitated relevant work yourself? We invite you to explore the different thematic forums in the C4D group,  where you will find peoples’ questions. The platform also features a Meet & Greet forum where you can present yourself, share resources and connect with your peers – we hope this might lead to some new partnerships!

Live feedback

During the web gathering we received live feedback from the attendees, for example about how they felt about what they had heard thus far. As you can see in the image above, a lot of people were keen to hear more and many thought that what had been shared sounded exciting. However, five per cent of people also indicated they were not sure yet! We found all of this direct feedback very useful and will integrate similar polls in the remaining web gatherings of this series.


Enroll now for the first virtual field trip
The next web gathering will take place on the 16th of June at 12pm GMT.  It will be a virtual field trip to explore participatory video practice and experiences from India. We will hear presentations and case studies from Rikin Gandhi of Digital Green, Vasuki Belavadi from Children as Media Producers (CAMP), and we are hoping to be joined by representatives from the DECCAN Community Media Trust. The web gathering will be hosted by Chris High and Gareth Benest live from the International Association of Media and Communications Research Conference in Hyderabad. Enroll here to join us!

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