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Progressive Media Seminar round-up

by Andrew Garton

The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival’s Progressive Media Seminar, 21 May 2011, held at The Cube, ACMI, Melbourne, Australia drew a small number of punters, a hand-full of which left during the first 20 minutes or so. Those that remained were clearly interested and perhaps sought more. That’s the impression I got from the few questions that were raised and the discussions I’d had with some attendees after.

Although a strong set of questions had been prepared, the discussion and often instructive nature of responses was not as effective as it could have been were the seminar to provide for a hands-on-approach. As such, I feel we had barely got going when the seminar came to a close and for those who stuck it out with the panel, it’s hard to say whether it was effective or not.

Progressive Media Panel - HRAFF 2011
Progressive Media Panel - HRAFF 2011. L - R: Tim Watters (Fair Projects), Andrew Garton (EngageMedia), Helen Sartinas and Peter Long (PlugIn TV)

From my perspective, in spite of the small numbers of people there (approx 20 – 25), the seminar pointed to a need for a more hands-on approach. I’ve done these kinds of instructive, anecdotal talks all too often. I don’t think people want to be told how to do this or that, but rather to have it shown in a way where they get to work out their own strategies.

The issues that seemed to stand-out, in need of more discussion and certainly hands-on design, include:

  • action/advocacy planning
  • identifying your audience
  • creating a distribution plan
  • video archives of re-use content – where are they?

The kinds of workshops we run in Indonesia are starting to become necessary, if not urgent, in Australia. Unlike Indonesia, where these workshops are funded, would Australian filmmakers and activists pay a reasonable fee to not only cover our costs, but support the ongoing work of our organisation?

In closing, I reckon it’s time to stop talking and start strategising. We can all talk and some will be prepared to listen, but can we act? I think we can.