I am passionate about producing video documentaries of 30 mins and or an hour.
This is because I have a firm opinion that this communications approach can have greater impact on educating, informing, entertaining and influencing change with people and the greater communities.
Majority of us respond well to watching and listening rather than reading.
I have therefore embarked on this- directed and produced a 30min and an hour documentary.
The experience indeed was tough in many respects and I am always working to improve my productions from video to script, research, edits, graphics and animations.
It was not a cut and paste stuff and an easy walk in the park for me mind you.
So for how much effort that’s been put and whatever the final result was, I say well done EMTV for producing the 22 episodes of “My Province My Country.”
One can only improve by doing more.
I have watched most of the episodes because so far we rarely get such local productions on our screens.
I wish to offer some objective critiques though as an advocator for communications for development in journalism and an avid video documentary producer.
I watched productions for most of the provinces except for Jiwaka, NCD, Central and West Sepik.
I did not watch the full production for Oro.
So my comments will be broad but specific on critical areas I feel are worth discussing.
I will focus on sequential flow of storyline that relates to the broad theme of development in the last 43 years and subscribing to the inverted pyramid approach of journalism.
I hold that strong use of the inverted pyramid because I realized in all pieces of good journalism- harnessing that inverted pyramid approach makes the product unique and stands out.
It does not need to be clearly defined as in hard news development but in the craft, this approach is subtly felt spread in the body like in feature writing.
I always embrace this- may be I am conservative that good journalism writing subscribes to this approach.
Essentially it means you state what is happening now, expound on it in the body and concluding it with background stuff or history.
As opposed to scientific research, which uses the inverse pyramid, you start with background, giving the details on research and conclude with the findings.
So I am saying I don’t think its appropriate to begin and spend quite sometime focusing on history in the introduction.
My other key focus is about that ability to script.
No matter what! No matter what.
One can have the best videos and interviews but if one can’t script well to tell and control the story based on ones theme by first creating the hook, delivering the punch and taking and holding a viewer through ones storyline for the total period- it’s a terrible production.
I always remind myself that content (script) is the king and layout and design is the queen.
Good video shots complimenting the script should be held in very high regard.
It’s always good to tie back your conclusion with your intro, as in feature writing, to reinforce a summative objective view about the provinces development progress in the last 43 years.
Finally I will broadly comment about what I noted were in my view did not impress in a production.
I appreciate if my comments can be accepted as endorsement of your efforts and feedback for the broader journalism industry.
Based on the program theme “My Province My Country” 43 Years On” and as a viewer I was keen to watch what happened post 1975- the good and the bad, the challenges and what’s being done to improve or better “development” and or change in respective provinces.
I believe most viewers would share the same view.
So if a journalist spends a segment of 10 mins providing historical information about the province that’s pre-independence stuff, I would consider it as irrelevant and a- time filler.
The rounds or topical areas that I was keen to have reporters covered broadly are in health, education, agriculture, infrastructure, business and investment, social services and law and order.
Other areas of content value can be captured within the body of the inverted pyramid.
It is always important to remember that a good story is about people.
It’s first about what and how they are doing now or a public policy intervention is impacting on their livelihoods. It’s not about what the policies are, what the government is doing or intending to do. These come after.
I am satisfied that a few have crafted their pieces keeping that in mind.
What I was looking for is an approach that briefly introduces the province, then starts with a striking area of interest which fits into business, agriculture, health etc and then expounding and connecting from one area to another.
There must be a sequential and logical connection from one story idea to another really dissecting it- remember it’s not newspaper that they can flip back so we can’t afford to lose viewers following the storyline.
Since it’s about independence it would definitely be ideal the Governor, open MP’s or a government official is interviewed. I understand there may have been challenges in securing an interview with some and that happens. Not always they swing by our time.
It makes the story more inclusive and objective speaking to ordinary people and non state actors as well.
There were some good videos shot.
As they always say and I believe in it, shoot….shoot…shoot and later you choose the best. The more, the better.
But it’s always good to shoot, communicating with your camera man what you want so he or she does it sequentially and it helps reduces production time.
I noted in few productions same videos were used over and over again as cutaways.
I can’t stress more that writing a good script is number one in a good production.
The words you use describes and reinforces what’s in the video and gravitates viewers to it.
I found that’s the strength veterans like Scott Waide and John Eggins have and makes their work so admirable.
One must be able to choose appropriate words, write and dissect issues and themes.
I note few productions had so long of just videos and music under for about a minute.
Just far too long.
To be frank I despise that.
I consider that as lazy and define that as “time filers”.
Well in newspaper designs, picture captions are sometimes referred to as “page fillers.”
Keep your inserts or grabs to as low as 4 to 10 seconds.
Control your storyline through your narration. The longer the insert it kills the story.
Sometimes I feel use of long inserts, when most of what’s said is disconnected from the preceding narration becomes only as “time filler” – to meet time and amounts to being lazy.
I have seen many not doing what I am concerned about.
CONCLUSION AND MY RANKING OF TOP THREE
My number 1 choice is Jack Lapauve’s West New Britain piece.
First he was able to sequentially tell and connect a story idea from one to another.
There was cascading logic.
Then he was able to speak to politicians, government administrators and ordinary citizens to outline the issues and challenges.
In his piece, he captured important pieces of history and or statistics in the body of the script so it’s very comprehensive and in the one hour I learnt a lot- well done.
My number 2 choice is Vasinatta Yama’s Enga piece. Her approach was quite similar to Jack’s and I found it very comprehensive with logical flow.
My number 3 choice is Scott Waide’s Morobe piece. He is the legend in these productions and his script is always far too good. He began with speaking to ordinary citizens as opposed to the “usual” we journalists look to find prominent people. And that’s well done. I thought there must be more focus on government as people would be keen to know about what the government is doing. A good focus was made about the significant contributions of the Lutheran Church.
All in all everyone did well and as I began, producing documentaries is not a cut and paste walk in the park stuff.
My comments are my own and are not based on a standard review criteria or methods.
It is aimed at promoting more of such productions and perfecting them.
I suggest TV stations across PNG should now prioritise documentary reporting among their news and current affairs programs.
These productions allow the journalists to build confidence and develop the ability to critically analyse, research, investigate and write.
Writing for documentaries demand more than producing a hard news piece of 3 minutes or less and really challenges the journalists abilities to produce.