Community Video Units

Community Video Units (CVUs) create platforms for communities to dialog and find solutions, and empower people to take action on local issues. CVUs are local production entities, created by Video Volunteers in partnership with different NGOs, that are run by up to 10 community members trained in all aspects of video production and distribution.

These community video producers make films on issues decided by community editorial boards, that they then screen back on widescreen projectors to thousands of people in the community.  Thousands of people have taken action on their issues after seeing these films, and you can read about the impacts here. There are currently ten Community Video Units, who have organized more than 3000 screenings in over 300 villages which have been seen by more than 250,000 people.

Learn about starting your own CVU here.

What is a Community Video Unit?

A Community Video Unit (CVU) is a local production unit run by 8-10 community members who are trained in all aspects of video production. They work full-time and receive a salary.   Each CVU has digital video cameras, computers for editing, a TV, and a wide screen projector and sound system for outdoor screenings.  Producers are trained full-time, on-site for 12-18 months by a professional filmmaker.  The CVU produces one video magazine every eight weeks on different social issues.  Topics are chosen by an editorial board of community members, the CVU team and the NGO.  One video magazine is screened every eight weeks month in 25 villages or Bastis (slums) and ends with calls for action.  With an average of 200 people at each screening, the video reaches around 5000 people in community settings alone.  The screenings foster participation and ownership by the community.

Establishing Community Video Units

By supporting the establishment of Community Video Units (CVUs) in which the disenfranchised produce and distribute their own locally relevant video programs, we empower local communities to lead, connect and change, and then voice their issues to a global audience.

With a five-year goal of creating a network of more than 200 Community Video Producers on four continents, we aim to transform the global media landscape by enabling those who are currently excluded to be seen and heard around the world.

Solutions-Based Media

Each CVU produces a “Video News Magazine” every six weeks.  The content of the Video Magazine is based on viewer feedback and key campaign issues decided by a Community Editorial Board consisting of community members, the CVU producers and the sponsor NGO. Different segments might include:

  • Community News - the issues of poor communities, such as government schemes, local health issues and upcoming events that are not covered by the mainstream news
  • Opinion Polls – that capture community consensus and call to action on particular issues
  • Success Stories - such as families that have found economic success through educating their girls
  • Short Documentaries – for example, stories where families speak out against alcoholism
  • Legal Tips - i.e., what to do if your name is not on a voter’s list
  • Local Culture and Music – could be introductions to the festivals of another community/religion
  • Expose/video raids – such as short clips of closed government health services followed by an on-the-fly interview with the concerned government officials
  • Editorial – where the organization and the reporters take their stand-for-change on the issue and give follow up action points
  • Local humour/jokes/skits – because we need to make people laugh!

National and International Distribution

Since 2006, twelve Community Video Units have been launched by 12 leading NGOs. Video Volunteers is now working to create opportunities to leverage these voices into the mainstream media by distributing their media on the Internet and on our network’s own site CVU Films. We’re exploring advocacy campaigns, and starting to work with the mainstream media that is showing a growth in stories from the “bottom of the pyramid.”

To watch all of our CVU films, click here.