Some Advice for Community Video Training in Small Island States
In 1992 Producer Phil Shingler and Director David Halliday were invited to the Solomon Islands to work with islanders on the production Of "Rif Blong Yumi". Here are some vital tips from the production trainers for would be trainers embarking on similar projects:-
Be Invited- ensure that you are welcome and have the support of the local people. Whether training using local tutors, or bringing in support from abroad, it is imperative that you are welcome. Phil & David were invited to develop the project by a range of government organisations, including the Solomon Island development Trust and the Government information Centre.
Research- conduct thorough research in advance of any other preparations. Done properly, this will anticipate problems and will, more than likely, turn up people who can provide valuable advice, equipment and logistical support. Find out who the key players are and whose approval you need to get things done, that is political and community leaders. Their support can be gained by making sute they are involved. As well as general research, it is vital to undertake local cultural research, in order to understand variations in regional traditions and customs.
Local Contact- enlist the support of a local contact who can operate in the field. If the training personnel and resources are to be brought in from outside the islands-as in our case- it will be necessary to have an informed and influential local contact who is willing and able to steer any training proposal through the potential labyrinth of local bureaucracy.
Training for a Purpose- establish precisely what the training requirement is and for whom. Educational Videos were already being made in the Solomon islands by the Museum and Catholic Communications Centre, but they needed to improve their production skills. The Department of Fisheries had a particular interest in two of their officers learning underwater video techniques for surveying coral reefs. Focus on training
Funding-Ensure you cover all avenues for funding. Initial research should have established what equipment and resources can be provided locally and free-of-charge. Whatever is left will have to be financed through funding and/or sponsorship. Fund-raising for the Solomon Islands Video Training project proved difficult because there was little interest from potential sponsors apart from Television Trust for the Environment. This was when the research paid off: a production office and air conditioned training space in the radio station, an edit suite, accommodation and transport were found through exchange with local organisations.
Be Flexible- Be Prepared and patient:the unexpected always happens. On arrival in the Solomon Islands, despite having received written official permission to enter the country, the 90 kilograms of video equipment was impounded at Honiara airport for two days. Think laterally and don't take an intransigent position, a little diplomacy always helps.
Backup- Be prepared to provide some follow-up to the training course. Without any subsequent back-up, the initial work will be of limited benefit. The Solomon Island trainees requested follow-up in how to sell their programmes and ideas outside the islands. It is important to note that, even in a country with only a radio station and television broadcast system, videos can be of great educational importance.
Published in TVE's "Moving Pictures" bulletin (Islands in the Mainstream-Sustainable Development and Small Island Developing Nations) Issue 20 April 1994.