Feedback from our training

PV Training Feedback:

Grace Albert (from Guyana) wrote in her blog: “It was a certainly a tremendous three days with our two Participatory Video facilitators; Rick Goldsmith of Catcher Media Social and Chris High from the Open University. We did not only focus on the use of advanced  equipment like the camera, tripod, monopods and microphones, but further learned and did practical activities on how to conduct interviews. This was very important for us, since we are more connected and will be working with our Indigenous communities in and around the North Rupununi in Guyana.”

Watch the completed the video (that formed a large part of the training).

“Every once in a while a training course comes along that stays with you as much more than the learning of techniques: it becomes part of who you are and how you work.  A few years ago I was lucky enough to take part in course on participatory video up in Newcastle with Catcher Media. Yes, it was amazing how quickly a Luddite like me got into shooting and editing video, but even more amazing was the lasting understanding of how well participatory research can work. Somehow, having the technology as a focus meant that the process of learning and sometimes sharing my own knowledge with people was both eased and illuminated. In those couple of days of a brilliantly facilitated course I learned even more about working as a cohesive group while fostering individual creativity than I did about cameras, sound and editing software.”

Kelvin Mason PhD. MA, MSc, B. Engineering, Visiting Research Associate, Geography and Planning University of Liverpool

I attended Catcher Media’s 3-day participatory video workshop in Newcastle. At the time I had just started my first academic research post which had so much potential (researching education and teacher education in Sub-Saharan Africa) but despite having an MPhil which had included a research methods module, I was definitely stuck in a qualitative rut. This workshop completely changed how I thought about research – methodologically of course – but also about collaborative knowledge generation at a more conceptual level. The facilitators were excellent and the group gelled almost immediately thanks to the relaxed and hands-on nature of the training. I have used some of the participatory learning techniques in almost every research project I have carried out since then (including my PhD) and have used visual / participatory approaches in several projects including working with a university in Sudan to evaluate a new handbook for teachers using participatory photography and using participatory video with teachers working in rural Malawi. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this workshop was one of the most important (and fun) aspects of research development I have engaged with in the last ten years. I really wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone interested in using film in research, but also those interested in developing their skills in facilitating or engaging in participatory social learning approaches.

Dr Alison Buckler, The Open University

“In 2007, I learned about participatory video from Rick and Chris. In a two-day workshop, they introduced me to a much richer, more meaningful way to use video as a tool for social change. Now, as part of my work, I facilitate visual storytelling in international development contexts applying many of the skills and principles they promote in their introductory class.”

Tamara Plush, PhD candidate, Centre for Communication and Social Change, University of Queensland, Australia

PV Project Feedback:

Henry Joseph NG’ombe (teacher/participant from Malawi) said: We have made a film and this film is really a film that will educate a number of people and will make people know how education standards are in Malawi, and how teachers, children and the community are co-opertating in the school activities. This is a very good film that one has to watch.” (Project page)

Michaeil Nyando (head-teacher/participant) said: “This film will help a lot, both the learners, teachers and the community – they’ll be looking at this film forever.”

Feedback from participatory media and heritage project “Chewing The Cud – Memories from Hereford’s old livestock market.”

Audience feedback:

“It’s wonderful that you’ve captured all those characters and their memories to keep for the future.”

“Thanks for a very entertaining and worthwhile project.”

“Excellent production – hope to see more work from this team.”

“Can’t wait to see Son of Cud!”

“Herefordshire is lucky to have you”

Independent evaluators:

“Overall, Chewing the Cud has been an excellent project which has exceeded the planned outcomes. The film and Take One exhibition were enjoyed by over 3000 people, and there has been a strong consensus that it has contributed significantly to recording a part of Herefordshire’s heritage. (…) Catcher Media Social should aim to build on the success of Chewing the Cud and use every opportunity to identify topics and funding for similar projects in the future.”

Previous participant feedback and monitoring:

2  x Chewing The Cud volunteers (Abby and Bethany) secured places on the prestigious film-making courses, citing their experience on ‘Cud’ as a major factor in interviews.
John Quarrell: Has own media company ‘Qproductions’ and freelancer (with Aardmann among others)
Abbie Morgan: Works as a full-time ‘A’ Level Film Studies tutor at Hereford Sixth Form College
Get it On: Three students gained places onto BTEC / University Drama courses
Sexpert?: At-risk excluded student secured place on Drama course
Prisoner’s journey: Involvement on the film-making, part of his rehabilitation through Restorative Justice programme.

External Evaluator’s Report of Chewing the Cud volunteers:

Recommendation: “The approach to working with volunteers on a ‘live project’ should be replicated in other work undertaken by Catcher Media Social (…) Some of the volunteers felt that their experience of volunteering on the project would have a long term benefit to their future careers.”

Volunteers said:

“I feel that I am little bit more employable in that direction. I just feel a little bit more clued up”

‘Catcher Media have helped me because even after the project I have got to work with them on other shoots. I’ve met professional people in the industry as well who have also asked if I can help out…so it’s opened doors”

“In today’s job market volunteering opportunities like this are invaluable as they often lead to a job.”

“Over all the experience has been a very positive one, aiding me in my future career within media, has allowed me to gain new skills and have some hands-on experience with an up-and-coming new type of media.”

“It was great because it was very flexible and you always felt like if you wanted to give something a go then you were able to.”

Three of the volunteers were also students at the Hereford Sixth Form College and one from Earl Mortimer College, Leominster doing related A levels. The experience of volunteering on the project has complemented their academic studies very well and has also provided evidence of practical skills for university applications.

Overall the project benefited volunteers in the following ways:

•    It helped to develop new skills or refresh skills that had been learnt previously
•    It created a sense of achievement and pride
•    It built volunteers’ knowledge of local history
•    It provided solid experience for people to use on CVs or applications to Higher Education
•    It gave people the opportunity to build new relationships

The case studies below, describe the experience of volunteering on the project in more detail.

Abby is aged 20 and at the time of volunteering on ‘Chewing the Cud’ was studying Film Studies at Hereford Sixth Form College. Abby was really pleased to start volunteering on the project because it gave her useful practical experience that complemented her studies well. Abby had been unable to find other opportunities for gaining practical experience in filmmaking in Herefordshire.

Abby really enjoyed working as part of a team on Chewing the Cud and most of all learning from the experience of the Catcher Media Social team. Abby also volunteered at some of the screenings which gave her another opportunity to use her film-making skills but also allowed her to see the impact of the film on the audience which she enjoyed.

However, most importantly for Abby volunteering has led to further opportunities
“Catcher Media have helped me because even after the project I have gone to work with them on other shoots..I’ve met professional people in the industry as well who have also asked if I can help out…so it’s opened doors”

Abby is now studying Film-making at Bristol University and feels strongly that her involvement with ‘Chewing the Cud’ led to her being offered a place on the course.

Prior to having her two children Teresa Flanagan did a film-making degree and worked in the industry for a while before giving it up to focus on raising her family. She saw the opportunity to volunteer on the ‘Chewing the Cud’ project advertised locally and was attracted to it as it combined her love of film with her interest in local history.

“There are so few opportunities when you’ve been out of it for a while I thought this was too good to be true.”

The project offered Teresa the opportunity to refresh many aspects of film-making she had learnt as a student and also to use different technology and try her hand at new skills such as interviewing which is something she had never done before. With traditional film making courses being expensive, Teresa found that volunteering on the project enabled her to gain some hands-on experience that was also flexible enough of be able to fit around her other commitments.

“It was great because it was very flexible and you always felt like if you wanted to give something a go then you were able to”.

She also valued the opportunity to work on a live project, working alongside experienced professionals and all the challenges that came with filming in different locations and having to meet a real deadline. Teresa moved to Herefordshire 7 years ago but knew little about the farming community or the heritage of the cattle market before volunteering on the project.

“The film was a great way of connecting the farming community with the wider community. Having heard peoples stories I now have ultimate respect for them”.