In India, something is happening. India’s next digital wave to emerge through improved mass connectivity is on the horizon. Its impact, emerging from millennials and rural inhabitants, will be seismic forging a new digital workforce and a shot in the economy’s arm. I have been invited as a keynote speaker in India’s premiere journalism conference.
I find myself in the company of Gerald Ryle behind the Panama Papers. The Guardian’s Nick Davies (Wiki Leaks and Milly Dowler story) and Raju Narisetti of News Corp.
Our approach to telling stories, I say, could be vastly improved by understanding the psychology of different audience’s reception to stories and how varying platforms and technology can help enhance their experience, let alone even capture their attention.
“If men were able to be convinced that art is precise advance knowledge of how to cope with the psychic and social consequences of the next technology”, posited Marshall McLuhan in Understanding Media “would they all become artist? Or would they begin a careful translation of new art forms into social navigational charts?”
We travel a 1000 kilometres by car meeting students, VCs, CEOs at a number of private universities, and entrepreneurial villagers near Udaipur.
We stop off at a village and film (drone, mobile and Canon) a young Masters graduate in Social Studies (in blue below) employed as an advisor to work with locals to help them raise their standard of living through trade and new businesses. The government refers to them as ‘Young Professionals’ who engage in knowledge transfer. It’s a programme that is as innovative as it is, we come to realise challenging to deliver.
Backed by World Bank finance, the graduates, some eighty of them, have to commit a minimum of two years to the project living within the communities learning their hosts’ customs and dialect.
The man with his hands clasped (above) couldn’t stop praising his wife (wearing a green scarf) for buying him a new tooling machine and bringing more money in from her new blacksmith business — an endearing sight to witness.
Schemes in which villagers are loaned money are not uncommon in India, but the government says it’s learned from previous mistakes and the new programmes involve locals have a greater say in the administration. There’s competition to succeed and to pay back loans so other villagers can borrow money too.
Completing the shoot in the style of cinema journalism provided proof of concept. Here’s the trailer
What happened next was equally exciting. Working with our host, we delivered a Master class to Amity University students who were highly receptive to bringing together their ideas, and tech, to create one epic story from a series of filming events across jaipur.
I have devised and delivered television documentaries modules at my university in the UK, so have a firm understanding of student-film-engagement. Indeed many of my UK students have earned stripes winning awards or becoming finalists in the last four years.
What was devised in the few days here in India raises an interesting bar. Ten documentary, film and photography students were chosen, who are set to film in a number of villages in Rajastan using cinema journalism. The project called One Day documents an important social record of the work of young professionals and workers in the village but also gives the students real-world engagement in a hitherto workflow they haven’t experienced working collaboratively.
This following video was made for the hosts on a mobile phone to say thanks
In the evening we met with a young and dynamic team of VR specialists who we’re looking forward to introducing to the young filmmakers for further collaborations, which should result in a VR of the village for you to experience.
I’m looking forward to a return visit to gauge progress.
I’m grateful to Talk Journalism’s organisers, Avinash Kalla, Aqueel and Jameel for their generous hospitality.
For more information on this scheme, part of the Interfactual media lab, you can email me at David@viewmagazine.tv . I teach and train a variety of people from corporates to students, from around the world e.g. Beirut, Syrian border, China, Cairo etc. See www.viewmagazine.tv and www.videojournalism.co.uk