Express yourself with FILM

Some of you will have done some filming whilst in country – some will have more footage than others. As the expression goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. One way for you to tell your friends/family and community about your Platform2 experience is through this footage.

Let us know it's out there so we can feature it like this:

If you have been unable to edit your film at your Express residential Platform2 may be able to offer you some time in your local Christian Aid office using editing software. Alternatively you could buy or download your own editing software and look out for free tutorials on the internet.

Ctrl.Alt.Shift are always looking for budding film makers to join their community of activists. Check out their website () and be in touch if you have any ideas about making your own development related film or contributing your Platfform2 film to their website.
Below are some tips for your next film project:

As with photography, you should ask for permission to film people.

Camera tips

1. After you have framed your shot and pressed record, HOLD THE CAMERA COMPLETELY STILL FOR AT LEAST 7 SECONDS.

That 7 seconds starts from AFTER you have adjusted focus, framing, iris and everything else. If the camera gets jogged or if you move before 7 seconds, you need to start counting from the beginning.

2. DON’T zoom, pan or tilt

To do this properly you would need a proper tripod and professional equipment. But the main point is that it is UNNECESSARY, time-consuming and nearly always unusable.

3. Get at least one WIDE SHOT

Once you have this, your audience will know where all your close-ups and mid-shots are happening.

4. Enough quality footage

Get enough shots that will tell the story you want to tell. For example, if you are making a 4 minute video you would need at least 40 six second shots – and that’s if every shot you took worked out, which they won’t!

All those 40 shots need to be steady, in focus and should show something that is relevant to the story you have decided to tell. (Filming is not an investigative activity – you should have decided what you’re going to make the video about, and what kind of shots you’ll get, before you start).

5. Action shots

Shots of people doing something, so kind of activity, are much more interesting to watch and entertaining than:
          a) People staring at the camera
          b) People talking (meetings, seminars, speeches, conversations)
So you often have to ask people to carry on with what they were doing.

6. Interviews, Filming

Select background and position for interviewee – somewhere quiet if possible and relevant. Not up against a wall! Ask anyone making a lot of noise nearby to stop or move, or move yourself.

7. Interviews, questioning

Ask open questions like “Can you explain what happened from the beginning?” rather than closed questions like “Did you go to the authorities?”

Where someone says: “It has caused a lot of problems…” the viewer won’t know what “it” is. So try to get interviewees to spell it out (eg “The water shortage has caused a lot of problems…”)

8. Sequencing

This is where you take a wide shot of someone doing something (eg hoeing a field), then take close ups that match this (eg just their face looking at the hoe, or just the hoe going into the ground). When these are edited together they form a sequence that make visual sense to the viewer.

More complicated sequencing would be, for example:

  1. A shot of man walking down a path and leaving frame walking away from the camera.
  2. The person he’s going to meet facing camera while he walks up to them and they shake hands.
  3. Close up the hands being shaken.
  4. Close up of man A’s face while shaking hands and saying “hello, how are you?”
  5. Close up of man B’s face while shaking hands and saying: “hello, how are you?”Building your story

1. Preferably working in a team, think about the issue you want to investigate.

To help focus, think about what’s different / the same / what’s unfair and really strikes you about your community.

2. Think about what message you want to communicate to your audience back in the UK.

Let’s use education as an example here. You might see that some of the young people in the community you’re working in can’t go to school because they need to help out at home.

To build an interesting story, no matter what your opinion on the topic is, it’s good to get at least two sides of any discussion. The more different the opinions, the more interesting your film will be to your audience.

When talking to people, you will get the best interviews from them if you show respect for all opinions. If someone says, ‘school is a waste of time and I need my daughter to help out at home’, respect that opinion and ensure you get another view to balance the comment out. This way, you can make sure your audience watching your film are engaged and can form their own opinions about the issue.

3. Write out steps you need to build your story before you begin filming

  1. What’s the issue? You need to set the context. What shots do you need to do this? Can you get someone to introduce the topic?
  2. How can you get lots of different angles on the story? Think of people you can interview who would have different opinions; action shots of people (remember to think carefully about how you do this, especially if the topic is sensitive and could be upsetting or cause strong reactions).
  3. How can you summarise your ideas at the end and round off the film to make sure that your audience are left thinking about the issue?

4. Start filming!

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