Recently I proposed that an organisation (I am a FIFO activist on this) organise some video vox pops around an event that they’re organising for about five weeks’ time. This post is how I would do it. (Or rather, how I like to believe that I would be able to do it. By now, pushing 50, I should have realised that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, and that my self-regard outstrips my ability, almost always…)
It’s divided into before, during and after.
Comments, criticisms and suggestions on all three are very welcome
With all these events, there are usually three acknowledged goals
- Get media attention on The Issue
- Build the media profile of the organisation(s)
- Get the mythical New People involved
To this I would almost always add a fourth goal –
- Build the knowledge, skills and relationships of those who are organising the event, whether they are centrally involved or more peripherally in putting the event on.
So, I’d try to get agreement from ‘the organisers’ about what the headlines of the event are, especially if you’re also doing a video advert for the event (another blog post that).
And I’d try to get organisational buy-in by framing the video vox pops as a way of not only building profile and maybe attract new folks, but as something that can help sustain morale in the weeks/months after the event (when there is inevitably a post-event dip in energy and enthusiasm – see my famous and much-liked post on emotathons).
Part of that buy-in is agreement from organisations and individuals that when the vox pops are published online, they will be included in news digests, e-newsletters, reposted on websites and social media.
I’d go so far as to clear the questions we’d be posing to the people who took part, to head off any complaints and grumble (and, given that you are doing something new, and ‘stealing limelight’ from others, there will be grumbles…)
I’d come up with a bunch of different questions that were checked for wording and politics (see above)
The first one would always be someone’s name and where they are from.
The other questions would include
- Why did you come to this event?
- What personal changes have you made in your life because of [the issue]
- What do you think the government should do about [the issue].
- What do you think activists and organisations should do about [the issue]
- Why and how should other ordinary people get involved in campaigning about [the issue]
- How do you keep your hope alive, given the trajectory of [the issue]
- Anything else you’d like to say?
I’d get all of these numbered, printed in the biggest possible size in landscape A4, and laminated
I’d also have a simple ‘disclaimer’ form ready – something like
‘Hi, we’re making a series of short films about the people who come to this event. You choose three questions, think about your answers. We point a camera at you. After the event, we will edit a short film of you. We will stick it up on the internet in a private site. We will then contact you to find out if you are happy with the film. If you are, we will make it public. If not, we don’t. If we don’t hear back from you, we assume you’re so unhappy you can’t actually type, and the video doesn’t go up.
We need your name
Your email and your phone number.
We will ONLY keep these for as long as we need,on paper, and we will not share them with anyone else at all. Once the video is up (or not) you will not hear from us again.’
[I don’t know what the laws are for consent of kids around this, and I’d be anxious anyway about asking people younger than about 15. I’d try to get legal advice about all that).
I’d find someone (or even ideally two people) willing to work with me especially before and during the event on the day. Find out from them what their skills and experiences are, and what knowledge skills and relationships they want to build. This has to be someone who is reliable. Don’t bother with flaky people.
I would take the promises of help from people who on the day will be busy ensuring that their organisations logos/stalls/propaganda are prominently displayed with a large pinch of salt.
I’d then do a practice run with my sidekick(s), and address any difficulties.
On the Day
I’d turn up with
- Video camera/recording device fully charged
- Back-up camera and/or battery.
- Storage device to transfer files (because I am uber paranoid about losing stuff).
- Clipboards and pens
- Participation/consent forms
- Two complete laminated sets of the agreed questions.
I’d have a ‘vox pop’ booth away from any point sources of noise. I’d have a neutral background for it, and the whole thing positioned as best as could be for light etc.
I’d have one person in charge of the camera (and the tripod)
The other person(people) are making sure we get copies of people’s signed consent forms
They talk them through which of the various questions they want to answer.
They mike them up if we’re going down that route (me, I am a sound clutz. That’s not good).
I’d start the filming with the person holding up their name and email on a piece of paper, which can then be edited out (obvs) which just helps make sure the right person gets the right ‘are you happy with this video’ email later.
I’d keep filming for a few seconds after they finish their answer, in case they think of something else they want to say.
At the end of the day I’d do a debrief with my sidekicks while memories were fresh.
- What went well?
- What went badly and what can we do better next time?
- Other ideas?
I’d want to start getting the vox pops up as soon as possible after the event. I’d choose therefore one of the most straightforward ones done straight away. The closing credits would include the logo of the event, but not of individual organisations that were sponsoring it (so it doesn’t look like those being interviewed for the vox pops are endorsing any/all of the organisations)
I’d stick it up on a private site, contact the subject immediately.
That first one could then be press released (with the person’s permission! – but that is probably best if it is an already engaged ‘activisty’ type person who can fake being normal.)
‘xxxx of xxxx today said xxxxx. Speaking at [name of event] she said ……..
Once the first one(s) were up, I’d just try to plough through all the other editing (until I got tired/more sloppy than usual) , stick them up privately, send out the ‘are you okay with this?’ emails.
I’d then want the videos going up once or twice a week on the same day(s) until all the ones that had been okayed were ‘up’.
I’d then do a celebration/post-mortem event with the sidekicks and ask what more would be needed for them to lead the next time a video vox pop was proposed.
I’d not stress too much about viewer stats. That shit is only partly under your control.
If anyone wanted the names/emails/phone numbers for their organisations contact list, I’d tell them to… [redacted for reasons of taste].
What did I miss? How will it all go horribly wrong?