Development Cooperation Handbook/The video resources linked to this handbook/The Documentary Story/The story of the story
The story of the story
It was the idea of Shachindra to write the story of our project as the basis for the text of the documentary. It was the summer of 2011. We were in Goa. We were supposed to do the “final editing” of the documentary. We were late (according the wishful schedule!). More than a year had passed since we finished the shooting on project locations. RAI had broadcast its version. We were happy that they did it on primary news time (5 TV7 and a Speciale TG1 all dedicated to the project were a good result!). But we were disappointed at the quality of the reportage. They had done a plain job. The whole novelty reduced to the fact that the topic was different. But no live in them. No blood. No courage. They passed by almost unnoticed by any TV critic, and my any opinion maker. Money taken out from programs against hunger, against injustice, against deceases …. With the scope of informing about the global challenges and informing the public of what are the issues at stake with International Development Cooperation. Which however had not nourished the spirit of anyone, not challenged any injustice, and surely not cured the disease of indifference that affects our TV public. And we were not even given recognition in the service. We appeared as some sort of facilitators. They thought that by giving us more recognition perhaps their role should have been somehow made less prestigious …. Petty mentality.
But that was the value I was thinking we had. We had on camera how the news makers behave! We have their working style. We have their limits. We can now really talk about the responsibility of media in affecting the global communication climate!
I had patiently collected and organized all the interviews to what we called “the pundits”, i.e. the experts. They had not been used by RAI. They were revealing the inside story of international al cooperation, the real challenges of peace making, the difficulty of overcoming the barriers to dialogue. I had thought that by inter-waiving their talks to the stories of the project we could have given them the vitality that they had lacked in the RAI editing. And I was now passing the task to Shachindra, a real guru in the field.
But Shachindra was unconvinced. The editing style that I was proposing would have made the documentary more vital, ore learned, more politically correct than what RAI had made. But it would have not made a big big difference. Basically would have remained a collection of development cooperation stories with an approach of justifying them in from of the public. We could have done a better work then others who did it before us. But we would have repeated the same lesson once again. What was the real novelty of our approach, he asked me?
It is a fact that we challenged the stereotypes. We have been able to take the journalists with us and made them talk of things no one has been talking. We succeeded. And then we documented their limitations. And we took the mission to reveal them to the public. And open new avenues and new style of communication that would overcome the usual political filters. And that use a combination of media formats and communication tools so as to link manuals, web and TV not only to reach a wider public, but to create a sharing and ever expanding knowledge base. ….. OK replied Shachindra. Then that is the news. And it is the project story that should become the narration axis. But I do not see a script based on your project story. I do not see the images organized in that direction. So how can I edit that way?
O God! He was terribly right. At the beginning I did think that we were the story. But then I had to go through the process of involving all the others and had prioritized the development projects. I had not written the script basing on our story, even if I continued collecting video footage about our “backstage” and had written a full manual about the issues at stake.
I suggest you one think – said Shachindra. Forget for a while the documentary script. Write the story of the project as it has to become a novel. Then from that we will prepare the script.
And I who was thinking I had arrived at the end of documentary making …. Having now to expand the whole work by including a novel also! I wanted to feel desperate for this! But also intuitively felt that Shachindra was right. That was what the project was asking us to do. And so, patiently, we had to obey.
And I started the story of our documentary narrating the stories of development cooperation work and the challenges of putting on media the work being done for peace building and international cooperation dialogue. I thought that in that story I should also have included all the observation which prompted me to write the manual chapters and to chose where to go , what to shoot and who to involve. And that was the story you are now reading. Which I hope will one day become the script for a nice documentary.