May 16, 2009

Today was a very special day for us. We got to hold a camera workshop for a group of very talented young people who are one day going to put us so-called professional shooters/editors/directors out of a job. We started with a sneak preview of a 4-minute video about the Slums Act case at the Constitutional Court, which Chris put together literally overnight. It got us going about how important it is for the shack dwellers to be telling their own stories to the world, when their story is so often under-reported and ignored by the news media here in South Africa.

We brought with us two FLIP cameras and a tripod, and began to go through the camera. The FLIP camera is really a beautiful thing (no, they’re not paying us to say this – I wish!): it’s so easy to use, the quality is brilliant, and most importantly, the shack dwellers can take the videos off the camera right onto the computer in their office, and upload clips to their website – no more tapes, no more digitizing. Of course the next step is getting an edit system onto the computer, which we hope to install on our next filming trip in September. After brainstorming a few ideas for the video project, Zodwa came up with the winning idea: a video about the University of Abahlali (their own, homegrown university – a place to learn ‘living politics’). They are having trouble explaining the concept to new members, and so a video would be a perfect way to do it. We split into two groups, each with cameraperson, interviewer, interviewee and director, and the ideas, creativity and natural knack that flowed over the next few hours blew us away.

We watched the footage, reflected on the day, and planned the way forward – towards having a fully-fledged video production unit churning out living politics in captivating moving images that will put the South African Broadcasting Corporation to shame!