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Video for Change: What is It and Who does It?

By Tanya Notley and Julie Fischer

A few months ago we started our research for the video4change network. The aim of this research is to learn from the different ways that individuals, groups or organisations are measuring the impact of video for change projects.  To get to this we felt we had to start by asking: what is ‘video for change’?

We knew that the video4change network had already defined it like this:

“the use of video to support social movements, document human rights violations, raise awareness on social issues, and influence social change.”[1]

But as we started to do some research using the term ‘video for change’ we could see that very few organisations and practitioners who use video as a tool or approach for creating change actually use this term. This introduced a problem: how could we learn from a diverse range of practices and experiences if we don’t know how to find them and if we don’t know what might be included? We decided to start with the broadest possible definition possible for video for change:

“any initiative that emphasises the use of video for creating change, whether that change is at a personal or individual level, is focused on a group or a specific issue or is at a broader social level.”

From here we have been able to extend our keyword search while we also draw from the knowledge of experts in the field, both from within and outside of the Video4Change network. In the next post we will provide a brief overview of these approaches. So far it includes guerrilla video, participatory and community video and advocacy video. As we carry on with this research we wanted to ask video for change practitioners:

How do you define video for change? Does it resonate with you or your organisation as an umbrella term? What approaches should the term include?





I worked with Kampung Halaman for about 7 years. We believe that Youth should become the most important member of community in this world that became a key of success of regeneration process.

How we work

By introducing video camera to the youth as a participatory tool of education, it is expected that they will be able to creatively master, as well as understand the functions and strength of audiovisual medium. They are also expected to be able to develop a ‘new language’ using that medium.


 More importantly, this medium will:


1) render possibilities for them to reflect daily realities


2) foster horizontal communication and visual literacy


3) enable the exchange of experience (through discussions)


4) encourage self and community’s actualization, and on later stage, eventually serve a tool of empowerment.


 These are all possible because as a medium, video/film have a distinct strength that is absent on other medium. Motion picture and the sound resulted from this medium is more reflective and experiential; they are expression of the experience as encountered and understood by those who are affected by it. By making a video about their own community’s condition, the communities’ members will be able to identify their position and simultaneously able to identify the details of their daily lives that are often overlooked. When synthesized, the two identification above will transform to a force of change. 

Now we are partnering with many community in almost all over Indonesia (from Papua to Aceh), reach thousands of Indonesian youth who speak up their perspectives about their issues that they faced through participatory media based community, particullary video diary and video community. A methode that we develop since the we were born. 

From my experience,change happen at many levels. It begins with youth is more confident when they screen their video to the  people. They feel (and they are!) important because they have 'space' to speak what they really think about the problem they face and people (not only their friend but the adults :teachers, neighbours, local officials) listen their opinion. In Indonesia adult tends to treat youth as an object, telling them to obey, to do  this and that, to respect them, not to critizise because it is not polite etc. So really listen to the youth is not very common and that is why it is very special for youth. We created moment where we (older people) trust youth through video making and screening. Several participants said to me that the moment (when we did our program with them : media training, media youth camp and other program for several days or  months)  is a life changing because they experience that they can create (do) something together and people appreciate it. That makes them want to do more and more... in their everday challenges. ... and that is a change.  A change because people assumed that youth is a young person that you can't relly on, they don't have experience, they are lazy, they are nothing but trouble. But now things are different, youth prove that they can do something. Audio visual is very helpfull for this process. 

That life changing is memorable, not only for youth but also for their peers, family, people in school. One girl team live in a traditional village explain to me that they are known by people in their village as girls who made the video and screening at the village hall. In their village, girls ussualy forced to marry at 15 or 17 when a man proposed to their parents. Sadly it is very common that after the marriage they divorced and got nothing to do because they were shame for some periode of time. After that they find other opportunity, is to marry again or work as household helper in another country following the previous generations and because they don't have other skills.  If they are lucky they can have money to help their parents to improve their family economic.

Years after the video making and screenings, we distributed their video in many screenings, also festivals. The video surprise the Seoul International Youth Film Festival, they invited the video makers to come and join the event.

In that village there are once memorable event where people think differently about the meaning of a girl. Girls are valuable human being, going abroad making Indonesia proud not only by working as a housemaid helpers like other girls but also by being a more respected person. 

We don't work with video, we work with peolpe. Video helps us to facilitate the issues and further spread the message to other communities.




tnotley's picture

Thanks so much for this detailed response Cecilia! It's so interesting because at our last network meeting a number of people pointed out that 'youth media' should be included in our literature review since there is so much work done in this area and so many people are using youth media models for video for change. Thanks for confirming! You already suggest the many ways you see change happening in this approach. It will be great to have you posting over the coming weeks as we continue posting on our literature review. Particuarly it will be great to know how you think about impact in your youth-centered approach to video for change. Hope to hear from you again!

tnotley's picture

Thanks Seelan. Are they useful because they are different kinds of examples of Video for Change? Is that what you meant? Tanya

Yes Tanya, I feel that they are different kinds of examples, and they give an overview of stuff that's coming out from the region (like providing a sort of visual framing).

I also wonder if the definition needs to be a little more specific. There's a danger of the term being too generic to be useful.

Also thanks Cecilia for the detailed comment. Great!

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