Communities are not a singular entity. They come in all shapes and sizes and are made up of all different types of people.
To a large degree community viability is determined by the communication which occurs between its members and how they perceive their personal connection to that community. Of course that is nice to say and likely few people would disagree, but how do you establish those connections.
If it were a military community or a community such as an Amish religious community or a small village involved in fishing on the coast, communication among its members would be easily visualized because all of the members have some fundamental thing in common.
However, let’s say that it is a community that has a population of several tens of thousands, has existed about 150 years, has had industries come and go and has a rural influence. A very common type of community.
In reality it is a community comprised of many neighborhoods. Some are defined by geographic boundaries. Some are defined by membership in an organization. Some are defined by a special interest. Some are defined by an issue. Some are permanent and others transitory. Not knowing who is who of course makes the trick finding a way to reach these people.
Knocking on every door is a way, but takes a lot of time and is happenstance as whether the people are home or not. Newsletters are better but can be both time consuming and costly. The telephone is one way but getting all telephone numbers is problematic and it is time consuming. An ad in the newspaper is another way but not all people use the newspaper.
Technology has provided another way which is not costly and uses little time and that is taking advantage of your local Public Access Television Channels.’ Most communities are served by cable television and as part of that most communities have at least one channel dedicated to use by the public. The use of that channel is usually available at no cost with the opportunity to use it multiple times with a single program.
While any person can create such a program by the use of their own video camera, many communities have a video studio for television production. The goal is to use these resources productively.
This begins with defining what you are attempting to achieve.
Certainly you want to bring the neighborhood together, however, it is important to know over what issue and to accomplish what goal. This is no small task. If you cannot define in detail what you are trying to achieve, you’ll never convince anyone else to join you.
Your next step is to write a script.
Sure you know what you want to say, but how will it come across to other people and what is the best way to present your appeal so that it will result in the most positive presentation. Through the scrip development keep in mind: “What is the purpose of the video?” And, “for what audience is it intended?” If it helps, write the answers to these two questions on poster board and tack them to the wall so that they are always plainly in sight.
First, write the “story” of the presentation in straight foreword language and don’t clutter it up with technical instructions as to camera shots, inserted graphics, music, and other elements of the presentation. The point here is to get the story down and agreed to among your support group.
Now that the story has taken shape, how are you going to show it on the screen? A simple talking head reading the script? A dialog between two or more people. Maybe one of them a moderator? Pictures with voice overs? How will camera shots best support this presentation and when should they occur.
Begin to note these items on the script.
Part of this will depend on what recording tools you have available. That is, a single camera basically resulting in a more or less sequential presentation. Or, maybe you have access to a studio (my community has one) with three cameras and a directors booth and editing equipment.
Will the story you are presenting be made clearer if maps or external shots or graphics are included by being inserted at the appropriate point? Do you have access to editing equipment to do such manipulation post the shooting of the primary program?
Does it enhance the presentation to add a sound tract of music? If so do you have access to music which you can legally include?
It is quite likely that you will have access to various methods of changing from one shot to another, such as a slow fadeout/fade in, or using various tools such as reducing the picture to a flyaway as it is replaced by a new picture. Decide which, if any, help with you presentation. Too many special effects can reduce the message.
Don’t forget that like a book, you’ll have a form of a title page which lists who is part of the presentation, the producer, the director, the camera people. In shots of other people also include a signoff sheet so that you can legally use other people in the presentation.
Time the entire presentation. Those managing the Public Access Channel will tell you how much time you have available.
For example, a 30 minute program is not 30 minutes but more than likely 25 or 27 or 28 minutes, because the managers of the Public Access Channel will have other items to add to that time as leaders and trailers just like a commercial channel adds commercials.
Once it is put together workout with the managers of the Public Access Channel the scheduled times for airing. Can you play it once a week, more? Is this going to become a regular program with different subjects at each airing?
You will also want to create a set design. You will want to design something which is easy to put up and tear down and store as others with other programs will likely be using the same studio area for their programs.
You now have a special tool which you can use to reach new members of the community you are attempting to address to being proactive. Once you start down this road you will find that your personal creativity will provide more ideas than you will ever have time to produce.
That brings up another subject. You will want to develop a team of people who will work together to develop these productions. You’ll need those who can work cameras, act as director and/or producer, script writer, as well as people who will move, set up and store props.
Always keep in mind that you want to enjoy what you are doing.