Participatory Video


Themba Records an Interview of Nosiphiwo

Themba Records an Interview of Nosiphiwo


Participatory Video – In Relation to our Project

In our prep phase our team believed that participatory video would be a huge aspect in our project. We created a preliminary plan for how we could incorporate this process into our project and how we could use it with our vendors. Our original plan was to create a documentary to allow vendors to express themselves and to have the opportunity to tell their stories. Upon arriving at The Big Issue, however, it became evident that a documentary was not a sustainable way for vendors to continuously express themselves. Our sponsor expressed that she was interested in creating an online platform where vendors could upload content about themselves. This website platform would be a sustainable way for the vendors to express themselves. We determined that creating videos about all the vendors to put on the website would not be practical, due to the limited resources at The Big Issue. These limited resources included the lack of personal to edit the videos and access to camera equipment.

Although participatory video was not used in the same way as we originally thought, we still wanted to use some of the aspects of this participatory progress in our project. We found that teaching the vendors how to use the cameras proved to be an excellent and fun ice-breaking activity. It allowed them to open up, become more comfortable with each other, ask each other questions, and be exposed to technology that they may have never been exposed to before. When we then sat down to interview them one-on-one in front of a camera to share their stories, we found that they easily opened up which was very exciting.

How Participatory Video Works

In Nick and Chris Lunch’s handbook “Insight into Participatory Video” (2006), participatory video is defined as a filming technique that uses a first person point of view. It is less focused on the quality and appearance of the video, but more on what a person is trying to say. Participatory video is a great technique to use to involve a group or community in the creation of their own film. The main focus of this process is to allow the community to take charge to explore and hopefully solve their own problems. Participants learn how to use video equipment and how to identify important issues in the community. They then take part in planning, filming, and compiling the video into a product that tells the message they want to get across. During this process, daily screenings are held to allow the participants to see their videography progress and gather feedback from others so they can become better and exchange ideas with each other. The final product is often shared with other communities to encourage them to try their own. Participatory video is a great tool to use because it gives communities the ability to document their experiences, needs and hopes through their own perspective. This personal insight would not be as easily captured or displayed by an outside team and empowers the communities to take charge in expressing themselves (Lunch and Lunch, 2006).

Participatory videos have also been used to provide therapy for the mentally ill or disempowered. It gives the disempowered a way to have their voices heard and gives them the confidence boost many so greatly need. Participatory video is a powerful tool in the fact that it can capture people’s experiences, needs and hopes from their own perspectives. It advocates for creativity within and beyond a community. This method of storytelling provides the participant with a face when it is not normally heard or seen.

Participatory video is a way for a community to take action and advance itself in innovation. (

Breaking Down Participatory Video

The following is an explanation of a 12-day participatory project that was developed by “” with farmers from six sub-Saharan African countries. The project was broken into basic stages. A visual graphic of the process is also provided below, along with basic descriptions of each stage. Read a full participatory video manual and case study.

Participatory Video

Graphic adapted from report “Participatory Video with Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Skills Development

In this stage, the participants learn basic video skills and it typically lasts for about four (4) days. This helps them gain confidence when using a camera and when being in front of a camera. This stage also emphasizes effective teamwork and discusses how to plan a project.

Analyzing/ prioritizing/ planning

This stage focuses on supporting participants so that they are prepared to investigate and analyze issues in their community. The facilitator defines the space for the group to brainstorm topics worth discussing, deepen their understanding of varying opinions, and find focus on the aim for the video. A storyboard or map is also created with the participants. This stage typically lasts between one (1) and two (2) days.

Video production

Using the storyboard and plan, the team gathers the desired footage they need to complete the video in this stage. This footage can include interviews, dramas and statements, even demonstrations of local practices and images of the environment. Between each recording session the team re-watches the footage and review plans for the next day while incorporating suggestions which is an important learning process. This stage typically lasts between three (3) and four (4) days.


In this two (2) day stage, the participants and facilitators watched all footage obtained. The desired edits are either drawn or written on note cards and then those cards are ordered the way the participants want the story to be told. The facilitators edit using computers connected to projectors to allow the group to follow along and be the directors.

Local screenings & Dissemination

Once the video is finished, a screening is organized and the community is invited to watch and discuss it. After this screening additional material can be added to the video and an evaluation of the project will be given to the participants. If this project is to be sustained, next steps should be discussed. This may even include creating a new participatory video or inspiring another community to create one (

 Continue to PhotoVoice