IndiaUnheard Training : from discussing practical details to debating environmental issues

The morning session usually balances technical advices and larger debates, on the themes covered by the Community Correspondents (CCs). Video Volunteers is not merely training good filmmakers, but attempting to raise awareness among  its CCs on issues crucial in contemporary India.


The IndiaUnheard process

Stalin starts the day with explaining the whole IndiaUnheard process to the Community Correspondents. He first reminds them that the IndiaUnheard project covers 11 themes, that are simple suggestions for them, and should never restrict them if they have original ideas. He also insists on the core principle of India Unheard, that is to cover stories that are left behind by mainstream medias or to give a community perspective on an issue already covered. He tells them that CCs should feel proud: they are those who cover the missing stories, and recover the forgotten voices.

Stalin then reminds them that they all have to produce a minimum of 2 videos a month and explains to them how the Video Volunteers’ staff will individually mentor each of them. Through regular phone calls, the mentors are going to help and support each CC in the process of finding and drafting story ideas, finding his characters, etc. All story ideas also have to be approved by the mentors before shooting. This mentor-mentee process is crucial in the India Unheard project. It means a concrete support for every CCs, and a continuity of the training camp. Meanwhile, Stalin insists: they have to be autonomous in their work. The mentor is helping, but the video will remain their own work, their own story ideas and research. The CCs seem confident with this idea. The training is coming to its end, and they certainly have learnt enough to feel capable of creating their own videos. Stalin then goes on with very practical, but nonetheless crucial, aspects of the process: how to burn their video, how to send the DVD to the Video Volunteers’ office, etc. The CCs can now work in full confidence.

Debating environment

Stalin then starts the session on environment. The CCs enumerate all sub-themes that come to their mind in relation to environment. Stalin lists them down on the board: deforestation, encroachment, domestic waste, pollution, global warming, climate change, etc.

After the tea break, the CCs are presented a campaign the Video Volunteers will be soon launching. VV often associates with other NGOs in campaigning, thus putting its original perspective at the service of political mobilisation. VV has now a project on climate change, in association with other Indian NGOs. Indeed, on the climate change issue, voices of community are drastically missing, and it is crucial now to retrieve them, if one wants to draw relevant policies. The CCs nod, they are now aware of how certain voices are given spaces while others are forgotten.

It is now time for the CCs to think about stories for videos. Stalin asks them how their communities experience climate change. The CCs mention untimely flood, untimely rain, extreme temperature, melting glacier, early summer, increased quantity of rains, decreased overflow, increased snow. These themes resonate with their experience, and they all have concrete examples to give. Margaret tells the group how irregular the monsoon has become in Tamil Nadu, Nadeem speaks about the extreme temperature in Kashmir. Stalin asks them to think about who they could interview on this climate change topic, reminding them that what matters here is to get community voices. Thus, the CCs mentioned fruit growers, potters, fishers, professional trekkers, and many more. Stalin insists: what is important in this campaign is to get people’s voices, to focus on local experiences. A good informant would then be anyone with close contact with nature, and not an academic, an intellectual or government member.

The CCs have already learnt a lot this morning, and they have now started to relax. The examples get funnier, jokes are told, but everybody now has story ideas, and material for video making.

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