Between Christmas and New Year, we stayed with my brother in law Dylan’s family. Dylan’s wife had given him a camcorder for Christmas and he’d filmed his family opening and playing with their presents on Christmas morning. He played the disk back and it was interesting to watch how people construct home videos. What Dylan had shot was a documentary-style piece showing other people – but not Dylan himself – opening their presents. We did hear Dylan’s disconnected voice from behind the lens, giving a running commentary and asking questions to his subjects.
Watching this home video set me wondering about what Dylan might need to do to get what he’d shot at home out on TV.
Our team here at BBC Wales is part of the Video Nation project. Under Melanie Lindsell’s leadership we’ve helped around 80 people to get video they’ve shot themselves onto the web and/or BBC TV. One of the defining features of Video Nation shorts is that there’s a strong authorial voice. These are personal stories; you know whose story it is and you know they are holding the camera and – if they’re not holding it themself for a shot or two – you know who they’ve given it to hold or that they’ve propped it up to record a piece-to-camera.
Going back to Dylan’s video, all he’d need to do to have all the shots he needs to edit a Video Nation-style short is to stand his camcorder on a bookshelf, look into the lens and say something that sums up what he feels about what’s been unfolding in front of his camera. This will give meaning to the footage, will make this a truly personal story and turn his home video into a more engaging piece of viewing.
Yes, if that’s what he wants, by taking on the look and feel of the Video Nation genre Dylan has the potential to get his home video broadcast on TV. All we need now is a TV climate where such content is made more welcome. And I’m hoping that moment is just around the corner…
Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on 4 Jan 2008.