Making Memorable Great Stories, the 8mm Cinema Journalism Way

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah
5 min readMay 28, 2023


Photo by David Freeman

“Movies are dreams that you never forget” says Spielberg’s trailer for The Fabelmans (2022). It’s where childhood dreams realised through an 8mm camera (much like the one I’m holding) blossom.

If “Movies are dreams that you never forget”, journalism is the reality that remains memorable. Or generally it should be, but there’s a snag.

If you ask an audience, for instance journalism students, to name a moving image idea, form or subject that’s stayed with them, chances are they’ll cite a fictional movie or a documentary-cinema. Why? I’ve done this countless times around the world.

How do you get to produce consistently memorable, immersive and talked about journalism particularly for our era? And yes it’s about the subject and maker. In movies you have actors, locations, cinematographer, and a honed script.

Yet there is a form that can help you accomplish this, and you’ll not hear it from industry or elsewhere, but it is incredibly powerful.

Before we dive into it, let’s hear briefly from three different groups what they think of it and the work I’ve produced around this.

Firstly, the audience. This 30-second clip was recorded presenting at the annual and much talked about creating gathering that is SXSW in Austin

SXSW delegates

Secondly, one of the UK’s most revered broadcast journalists and a former news anchor on Channel 4 News. This 28-second clip was recorded when I was his news producer.

Thirdly, a 50-second clip from one of the UK’s most respected filmmakers and writers of cinema and documentary, the award winning Mark Cousins, behind the acclaimed The Story of Film.

Mark Cousins

So what is this form? What if you could merge cinema and journalism?The thought draws sharp breath from senior journalists execs because of the belief this means fictionalising journalism. Nothing could be further from the truth. That concern stems from a misunderstanding of what cinema was, and is.

I’ve interviewed and analysed highly respected multi-award winning journalists at networks and amongst them I’ve been able to identify a rare number who use elements of cinema journalism in their structural approach.

Blending cinema and journalism seems crazy. So crazy that after years of showing how it worked, I could construct a theory behind its cognition, styles, impact and workflows and did a PhD. I analysed storytelling across the world. It was a huge undertaking, but I proved its value and how it worked.

Cineists might tut tut because the very idea of blending cinema and journalism is absurd and the two are wholly incompatible. Cinema represents a vast world of story telling divorced from the thought processes of journalism, or vice versa. But in practice when you screen films made in this style without any disclosure, all camps highly approve.

Little heard of Cinema Journalism’s been featured in storytelling and tech spaces such as this, Apple, seven years ago.

Around the world and on MA programmes I’ve lectured and trained outfits and groups from The Financial Times/ (FT.Com), across Europe and different journalists at Chicago Tribune (US), to working in universities.

2005, was a seminal period for newspapers around the world and the UK. In the UK, the BBC was considering going hyperlocal which would have been a threat to regional newspapers, so they fought back by adopting video. The UK’s Press Association asked me if I could train the all regional journalists and I did, hundreds of them. In this 40-second clip we hear from journalists involved in the first untried training programme

Why a post about it today? Why is it so significant now? What can it do? why is it so significant, and what’s the reference to 8mm?

In a world awash with video and stretched attention spans, just how do you cut through ensuring your work as a storyteller get’s noticed and remains memorable?

If we consider how much disinformation and misinformation is prevalent in media, how can your approach cut through this and reveal in powerful visual ways the harm disinformation causes?

How can you create stories that cut down on time and workflow? Here I deploy the 8mm approach. Pre-digital and the use of film, an 8mm camera had about 3 mins of film use. You had to develop an understanding for shooting the story-in-camera. That is minimal editing later. When I’ve used techniques in training, cohorts come down from 28 mins shooting a three minute film, to seven minutes within a day.

Cinema journalism is not about the technology per se, whether that’s mobile phones or an Arris cameras. I’ve used the methods in mobile phone filmmaking making shorts. A good cinema journalist, like a director, uses tools that are apt for the story seeking to be told. This story here about Bass Culture was screened at the famous cinema in Central London that screened the Lumieres bros films.

What cinema journalism also does is to give its practitioners the tools to recognise, as well as challenge tropes. This revolves around the work of icons. Those who set standards for others to follow. This isn’t uncommon in other forms like art, design and literary forms.

Remember how the impressionists challenged romanticism, design thinking challenged its pre scientific approach, and in literature African spiritualism and culture cut through to a new style and understanding within story.

Cinema journalism provides a way of interpreting and producing events and at at time when the growing meme amongst global south groups is “You’ve told out story, it’s time we told ours”. It does so because it plays into cultural forms of storytelling. This short promo reflects experts talking about the need for new forms of storytelling.

Finally at least for this post, whilst the reach and impact use of AI requires attention. I spoke about this in a BBC article last week, I see how it could be analyse news and journalism it has yet to accomplish.

To hear more please do subscribe to this feed. I post regularly on innovation, social impact and journalism.

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah is a leading videojournalists and creator of cinema journalism. In his journalism career he’s worked for Newsnight, Channel 4 News and was a freelance correspondent based in South Africa in the early 1990s. He’s a reader/ associate professor of innovation and applied storytelling at Cardiff University. More on me here

Photo by David Freeman, Blend of AI.



Dr David Dunkley Gyimah

Creative Technologist & Associate Professor. International Award Winner Cinema journalist. Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled Top Writer,