Thursday 1st May, saw the first of my #housingstories workshops. #housingstories came about as a response to the increasing tide in the mainstream media of negative stories about people who live in social housing. “Benefits Street” and “How to Get a Council House” are just two examples of the recent trend for TV, newspapers, etc. to stoke the fires of negative stereotyping of the people who live in social housing. I have long argued that people now have the tools in their own pockets, i.e. their smartphones, to produce material of a decent quality that can contribute to telling their own stories, and that gives us all the ability to shape and disseminate our own stories. It has been clear, however, that the social housing sector has been slow to take advantage of these opportunities. So, the aim of #housingstories is to demonstrate how this can be done and to create a cohort of people within the social housing sector with the skills and confidence to tell their own digital stories and to help those they work with, particularly social housing tenants, to do so for themselves.
So, the format for the workshops is that we start off by talking about the importance of storytelling and why we do it, moving on to some effective examples. We then explore storytelling techniques, before undertaking some practical work, during which participants interview each other on camera. We then explore some basic editing tools, and we critique the interviews they have recorded to provide some pointers for improving the quality of their output for the future. And we also cover uploading content to Youtube and other sites, and promoting it via social media.
My emphasis in these workshops is on assisting people to produce good quality content with the tool they are likely to carry with them all the time, their smartphone. Most smartphones these days can produce good quality, usually, HD, video. I know that the purists will always say that there are deficiencies, particularly in sound and lighting. Yes, you can get better results using an external microphone, and, yes, you need additional lighting in certain circumstances. But, I maintain that people are highly unlikely to carry such additional kit with them as a matter of course, and that, if they believe such equipment is necessary, then they will run the risk of missing good stories.
So, in the workshops, we cover techniques for overcoming the deficiencies of lacking additional equipment. These include:
- getting as close as possible to the subject to make sure the microphone is adjacent to their mouth
- cutting down background noise by moving to a quieter location
- making sure you shoot video in a well-lit location
- cutting down wind noise on external shoots by putting a sock or a glove over the microphone
I think the videos participants shot were pretty good efforts for a first attempt. See what they came up with below. I am keen to do more of this kind of thing in other parts of the country. Let me know if you’d like to host a workshop.
Hayley Collins interviewed by Jess Dewhurst
Jess Dewhurst interviewed by Hayley Collins
Adrian Capon interviewed by David Troupe
David Troupe interviewed by Adrian Capon
Stephen Blundell interviewed by Andy Leppard
Andy Leppard interviewed by Stephen Blundell
John Middleton interviewed by Peter Greenwood
Peter Greenwood interviewed by John Middleton