"Advocacy films may show the struggles and problems of people but the final message counters defeat...the advocacy is in the final message of hope."

So concluded ‘Digital Video Production for Activists’, a workshop conducted by Isis International in Quezon City, Philippines, from 10-11 June 2012.

‘Digital Video Production for Activists’ was an echoing of the Citizen Video Journalism Activist School for Women from the Middle East and Afghanistan conducted in Bangkok in December 2012 by Iranian activist and film-maker Mahbouhbeh Abbasgholizadeh. Based on the results of that Activist School, Isis International saw the need to echo the training in the Philippines, where a dynamic civil society has demonstrated an eagerness to incorporate information and communication technology into their advocacy work.

Participants were drawn from locally based NGOS, and each of the nine women and two men, came with the intention of developing their skills in digital video production to develop video documentation for their organisations, and further their advocacies. With digital video production more accessible, and the internet and social networks making distribution easier than ever before, advocates are seizing the opportunity to broaden their audience online and find ways to circumvent the dominance of mainstream media.

The participants engaged in a participatory, hands on introduction to digital video production and dissemination. They began with a morning dedicated to learning about camera techniques, including shot sizes angles and framing, with a focus on empowering the subjects of their videos. Participants also learnt about the elements of digital video production and storyboarding. Thus equipped, participants then began the process of creating their own advocacy videos, spending the afternoon shooting on location, and reviewing their footage.

The second day of training was focused on learning basic editing functions and applying them to their digital videos before developing strategies for distributing their videos, exploring the potential and pitfalls of social networks, and discussing cyber safety and copyright. Participants faced first hand challenges that accompany digital video production for activists, including pressures in terms of time, limited resources and the ethical representation of their subjects.

A diverse range of digital videos were produced, which dealt with issues such as youth engagement, the right to decent housing including for urban poor gays and lesbians, and women’s sexuality and rights. The videos were screened before their peers as well as Libay Linsangan Cantor, Isis International Associate and former University of the Philippines Film Institute faculty member. She provided expert feedback to the participants based on her experience as a film producer and women’s rights advocate.

Participants commented that their experience over the two days helped them to enjoy digital video production, become more confident about their ability to harness digital video production for their advocacies and develop the networks with the other participants.  And just as advocacy films illustrate struggles to end in a message of hope, so too did these activists overcome their personal challenges so that they can go forth to promote their advocacies.

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