At a glance

Policy stage: 
Level of involvement: 
Number of participants: 
1-500 people

Participatory Video (PV) is a set of techniques to involve a group or community in shaping and creating their own films.


PV is a group activity that uses video to aid learning and engagement. It allows participants to use video equipment to be creative. This can be used for:

  • Group or individual development
  • To scrutinise their problems to find solutions
  • Promoting local innovation
  • To initiate community led action
  • As a voice for marginalised groups
  • Communicating with policy makers

The process of film making is equally as important as the film itself. Both can be used as a means to greater participation.


  • Local members of a community and/or particular groups



  • Costs include acquiring video cameras and organising workshops for participants to meet and review what has been done.

Approximate time expense


  • This can be lengthy due to the time it takes for participants to make and edit the video as well as scheduled workshops for group discussions.


  • Puts control in participants hands
  • Empowers members
  • Improves technological skills


  • Equipment can be expensive if used by many
  • Cannot resolve complex, polarised issues


The origins of Participatory Video are in the work of Don Snowden during the 1960s. He used media to enable a people-centered community approach with a small fishing community on the Fogo Islands off the eastern coast of Canada. The films made by the villagers were shown to politicians and helped change government policy as a result of the collaborative techniques used, which became known as the Fogo process. Snowden went on to promote this technique around the world. PV has grown since then with the accessibility of home video equipment.