Media education Professional training

Film as experience and inspiration

Discovering point of view

In my latest trainers training workshop in Germany, (March 2016) the participants, experienced theater pedagogues themselves, were aiming to get inspired and implement our practice with their drama youth groups in schools. The theme of the workshop was quite special: “Film as cultural experience and as an inspiration point for youth productions especially in theater with the aim to combine video and drama”. I will give here a short account of my concerns and some solutions I proposed. A more developed description is already presented in the manual of “YouthDocs” , an Erasmus+ project that dealt with video and drama in teenage productions, 2014-16 and can be found here.

Obviously there is no given methodology to face this so I was challenged to look back both at my familiar set of tools from “reading and writing media” and reconsider qualities of film and theater that would help build upon. Thus, my planning involved specifying certain common issues: characters, theme, story-line. setting and the fact that what we produce is always a transformation of reality into something else. This representation and transformation requires the use and manipulation of the basic elements of both these languages. Thus in terms of form I wanted to indicate how useful a focus on the close up may be as well as the importance of sound. Why? Because these elements condense narrative, point of view and atmosphere.

A new way of using a tablet as a camera: on earth level

I was also searching for a more theoretical concept which would underpin the above. I found this in the notions of “engagement” and “alienation”, as both film and theater have done in the 20th century (e.g. through the ideas of Brecht and Godard). This was a “bridge” that helped me connect content and form with history.

Furthermore I felt that I had to help participants become aware of how “young” film is as an art form and how quickly it evolved in its short life: I wonder if we could ever compare 2000 years of drama to less than 200 years of still and moving image?

Finally, through small samples and extracts, I aimed to show how human creation around media has developed:

From photography to moving images.
From very short clips to full-length movies.
From B&W to color.
From static camera with slow funny walking of the 1900 to speedy editing.
From silent movies to sound design.
From cinemas to mobile device watching.

Visual close ups take a different meaning in relation to a real pose

However, when theoretical aims and intentions, become part of a training, they need to be embodied in practical processes and outcomes with the group. So through hands on exercises we gradually built a common language in relation to images and sounds as meaning bearers. At the same time this particular workshop had to keep a strong connection to the way drama approaches communication and help participants reflect on drama through (the accuracy of) media. This means that we would use the power of feelings, actions and body in connection to the language of images and the way they create meanings.

I think that the special characteristic about this workshop for me was not only its intensity or richness but that a mutual exchange was happening unconsciously. Some of my techniques and learning modules became a field for propositions, instinctively and quickly happening due to the theater pedagogue mentality of the team. Open mindedness, quick reactions and experience flourished in a creative dialogue. I believe this is exactly what is missing from the training field.

Media education Professional training Reflexions

Visions of a space through mobile apps

Collage with caption "TIME"

One of the interesting things I see about certain apps on mobile devices is that they can become an introductory or concluding space for media literacy and expression. The central role of still pictures in many apps which use images and the possibility to manipulate, organise and add elements of text or other symbols, may very well lead to narrative structures and conscious choices as long as there is room for dialogue between content and form.

What we are interested is a process of choosing a point of view for our work, no matter how “small”, “short” or “ephemeral” the result may be. Apps’ possibility to function relatively quickly and directly from shooting to “editing” minimize the maturing process from idea to (audio)visual text . This offers aspects of entertainment, appropriation and a feeling of solving a riddle which engages audiences and – especially young- users. Of course this same speed, usually neglects deeper thinking and possibilities for synthesis. Could we thus grasp the graphic and expressive qualities of such creativity, even though it may be evanescent and evaporating in the mobile device environment, and turn it towards further narratives and critical thinking?

Signs in close ups
Signs and arrows showing the way

Here are some examples of such a pilot project with “Photo Collage” and “Pic Collage” during an adult workshop that I offered at the Media Meets Literacy conference in Warsaw (22/23 May 2015). In relation to media education work such apps lend themselves to pluralism and possibilities for both group work and solitary expressions which are important to both young and old. In addition I find particular documentary qualities in “playing” with these apps, as “point and shooting” with our mobile phone cameras has become almost a trivial habit for almost anyone. The challenge is to turn an often meaningless gesture of “clicking” -which however is charming enough to happen in millions everyday all over our planet- to a thoughtful choice.

The participants here, worked in pairs or three and were asked to reflect on their impressions from the venue of the conference. We had a short discussion which, in a normal workshop would follow a more detailed brainstorming session. The important documentary element was to guide participants to switch point of view on the space they have already been all morning without thinking about a specific interpretation. The should come back with a collage version of their vision of the space. Pictures could serve a way of thinking or rather a way of LOOKING.

Female details
Female details
Collage with a focus on windows
Window idea
Humans and patterns
Humans and patterns

Although we lost some time in technicalities which are still inherent with such uses (who has what device, which platform, free and payed versions, adapters, transferring materials etc) the feedback about the process was that it was both absorbing and entertaining and the results have a visual quality one can built both meanings and feelings. It is worth remembering that our initial inspiring question was the space itself and our vision of it , a purely documentaristic or street photography question. The interesting thing is how the interactivity of the app affects form and leads us to new scenarios. Imagine that we almost didn’ t have the time to touch upon the layer of adding text and captions, leading us thus to a more complete narrative. In addition we would like to have more time to compare how the same space inspired different approaches, and to discuss the narratives that occurred.

Professional training

Objects trigger images

Participants thinking over the exhibition
Participants recreate stories from observing their objects

One more “object based brainstorming” session for a Media and Theater workshop this time. It is a very interesting technique we practiced with Andreas Treske for young documentarists at the North Aegean Narratives project on the theme of identity and immigration. Later I applied it again for beginner documentary makers to trigger images for the very special heart of Athens. This time personal identities in the spectrum of public life were targeted.IMG_1078 IMG_1084 IMG_1085 IMG_1086
As always, little surprises occur both from the selections of objects people make and their associations. A big surprise was a “live” object which was carried in our small installation: a child was brought to join memories and secret objects or bureaucratic items.

A child next to other items.
A child stands next to other items as proof of a life cycle.

Here at the Theater in Education 2014 Seminar in Pilion, Greece, the workshop is collaboratively done with N. Govas and Ch. Zoniou, two excellent theater pedagogues.

Media education Professional training

Film literacy for librarians

On the occasion of the publishing of my subtitled interview on the media language workshop for librarians I also post a few words and photos.

Interview for the Future Library workshop

The Future Library program gave me the chance to work with 100 people who are surrounded by books, who work in a space full of words, jumping out of pages. Who currently search for new ideas and paths to approach their visitors (and their books). Our photo-stories, built from images and story lines proved a great tool, handy and accessible for short and longer term methodology, for younger and older, for digital and paperback!

participants taking photographs
Creating characters and perspective
An imaginative team played with figures and sarcasm
Participants looking at each others work and photostories
Always important to share and comment




A colored object was the starting point for our stories each time, following the overall theme of colors in books and literature. In 2,5 hours the tams had to grasp the idea of creating a story with images and words and produce it!