Collective films - The process

The making of collective films draws on collective and participatory dynamics and on constantly evolving work processes.

Since its beginnings in the mid-1970s with the creation of the Vidéobus, the Centre Vidéo de Bruxelles (CVB) has always paid particular attention to giving a voice to ‘ordinary’ people, the inhabitants of Brussels, citizens and all those who are often on the fringes and go unheard. This attention takes the form of collective video workshops that are permanent (like Coup2Pouce) or temporary, where both process and outcome are important. Today, we call these productions ‘collective films’ to underline the collective nature of the work and to set them apart from other productions, where a more individual approach is taken.

The challenge of a video workshop is to enable a group of people (adults mostly) from diverse cultural backgrounds in Brussels to collectively express themselves through film, using an approach that encourages creativity and critical thinking.

This approach is the total opposite to the usual media ‘swoops’, which constantly produce an outside view of things and people, and rarely an insider’s perspective.

Our approach is to alternate between the different phases of discussion and creation, equipment handling and technical training, analysis, reflection and the construction of a cinematographic language. It is a global approach which uses what the participants ‘have to say’ as a starting point. It highlights intention and the project as driving forces and pays particular attention to drawing on the resources on the ground as well as the knowledge and know-how of the participants. The workshop thus becomes a space for dialogue, exchanges and encounters.

It encourages individual expression and the development of a collective point of view, and it teaches techniques, artistic language and how to shape and structure a project, with a strong emphasis on wanting to speak, do and share, and enjoying it.

Each filmmaking stage is an opportunity to develop skills, such as teamwork, taking responsibility for your ideas, actions and choices, respecting the choices made by others, constructing a sensitive and clear discourse, etc.

Stages and challenges:
- choosing a subject matter > expressing oneself, creating, writing
- visualising a film > observing, analysing
- script-writing > describing, structuring a story
- location finding > observing, confronting, comparing, differentiating
- framing and shooting > observing, choosing, taking a shot
- sound recording > observing, choosing, listening, making a recording
- interviewing > meeting, understanding, discussing, talking, structuring one’s thoughts
- directing > working in a team, taking responsibility, respecting the choices made by others
- editing > comparing, rating, prioritising, choosing, getting involved and discussing
- screening > taking responsibility for one’s choices, sharing

From the more standard ‘video as a mirror’ situation to developing self-awareness, recognising the group to which you belong and thinking about how to communicate with others, the work involved means most participants progress in identifying what is important to express, both for themselves and others.

Each collective film is shown to the public and/or published as a DVD or a Vimeo link. Our distribution department takes care of further screenings throughout the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and abroad, as well as at festivals.