Development Cooperation Handbook/The video resources linked to this handbook/The Documentary Story/Getting partners on board
Getting partners on board
One of the conditions to present project proposal to EU Commission is that the project will be implemented in partnership amongst different organizations. The basic idea is that each organization has a specific field of competence and a specific area of influence and so the partnership together has the capacity to integrate these differences and so together they can achieve higher professional competence and wider project impact. Another reason is that it is easier to monitor a partnership then a single organization, because one can interview separately the partners and learn more about the project; while organizations may have a less transparent way of carrying out their business. The idea is very good. I have also been always in favor of it. However often partnership are just designed on paper amongst partners who do not really know much about each other. They often just sign the project paper without really understanding the work involved in it. They only look at the fact that there would be some money for them to do something that they will understand better later on, with other people whom they will come to know later on, if and when the project is financed.
Our partnership was built amongst NGOs from 5 different countries: Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Syria, India. The objective of the project was to communicate to the European citizens the work in progress for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, i.e. a big United Nation Programme with 8 strategic objectives which had been receiving very little media attention. The partners of EU had to cooperate in communication in their respective States; the Indian and Syrian partners were supposed to facilitate the documentation of project on the ground. We had to film projects also in Africa and South America, but we did not have formal partnership over there.
So now that the project was approved I had to organize the partnership. But what is a real partnership in media production? If I act as a director who tells everybody what they have to do, then it is not really a partnership. Sure I have to assign roles and distribute tasks. But I have to do it in such a way that each person contribute in a creative way. So I had to find the proper balance between telling people what they had to do and leaving them free on how to do it. Well. Not too free either. I have also to find a way for which I pay the salary of contributors only as much as they really contribute. And I have to do it all at a distance, with distant partners, whom sometimes I do not know very well. And who do not know me well.
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