Paths for projects for the prevention of violence through audio-visual practice

Pedagogical structure of a workshop.
3 October 2020. Published by Benoît Labourdette.
Reading time: 3 min  

Violence, and especially “gratuitous” violence, with no obvious explanation and operated by young people who are a priori not concerned, is a fairly central contemporary prevention topic. Based on field experience and professional training that I have co-animated with Serge Tisseron on the prevention of brawls, here is a concrete example of an audiovisual creation workshop within the framework of violence prevention projects.

Problems of territory

Violence between young people can become recurrent in places where there are “borders” (geographical and symbolic) between neighborhoods and/or neighboring cities. The public authorities must intervene to change the local context so that young citizens can see themselves in a different way than in antagonistic relationships.

What is violence?

What is violence? How does it arise and how can culture be a tool for prevention? Violence is a way of imposing one’s place in the world, it is a primary mode of expression, by taking power over the other, considered as an object and no longer as a subject. One of its causes is a lack of empathy, i.e. the ability to put oneself in the other’s shoes. To rebuild empathy, one must first work on recognizing and naming one’s own emotions, in order to then be able to envisage them in the other person.

Violence in the public space often takes place in the midst of difficult social realities. On the other hand, intra-family, educational or intra-professional violence is not included in social distinctions. Thus, violence can emerge everywhere and all the time.

Cultural projects for the prevention of violence

A cultural project that opens up spaces for young people to express themselves, be it through images, text, music, etc., cannot, of course, resolve issues of violence on its own. But, coordinated with social and educational projects, cultural projects are a powerful lever of prevention, because they allow structuring one’s own expression, and thus remove, one by one, the need to resort to violence in order to find one’s existence.

Video, an expression tool of the 21st Century

Conducting video creation projects with young people, which allows both to give space to expression as well as to build diffusion projects that enhance and structure the social space, is one of the most effective ways today to succeed in cultural democracy projects.

It is important that young people be accompanied to create their own films, their own subjective representations of the world, in a sincere and open way. Thus, classical filmmaking projects are less responsive than before to the reality of the problems of contemporary youth. The approach « Pocket Film », which consists of the demanding supervision of spontaneous filmmaking with cell phones, is a method of lively creativity, motivating for young people, and surprisingly qualitative in terms of productions.

A workshop model for 4 middle school classes

Four college classes could be involved in this project. Each class will aim to make a film on the theme of violence between young people. The films will be promoted by a restitution, at the end of the project, in a cultural place (ideally a movie theater) in the city. The young people will be made responsible for the organization of the restitution, in order to give a very concrete finality to their work.

Each class will be accompanied during 4 half-day sessions to make the film. There will be two additional sessions to organize the restitution.

  • First session
    The method consists in starting not by writing a script in the classical sense (which is discriminating) and difficult to carry out in a group, but by making a collective film, semi improvised, from the first session, on the theme of violence, which will be watched in its wake, and gives each person confidence in his or her ability to express himself or herself.
  • Second session
    The second session consists of the creation of 6 small teams in the classroom group, each of which will be responsible for creating a film independently, during the session, on the theme of love (i.e. the opposite of violence). The films will be viewed at the end of the session. And, in the minds of each person, confidence grows and the subjects to be dealt with become clearer.
  • Third session
    The third session begins with a brainstorming on the subject of violence between young people, and the collective conception, based on what was invented during the first two sessions, of a film in 6 sequences, each team being responsible for one sequence. First versions of the sequences are filmed and then viewed.
  • Fourth session
    During this session, a second version of the sequences is shot and viewed. The young people being responsible for their sequence are motivated, because of their responsibility. Then a third and final version is filmed and viewed.
  • Fifth session
    The film is viewed in its entirety. According to the skills of each person, roles are given for the organization of the restitution session: communication, technique, mediation, reception, etc. Concrete work tracks (and coordinated with the other classes) are given.
  • Sixth session
    Shortly before the screening, a point, a dress rehearsal, is made, in order to prepare the full investment of the films’ valorization.

The show will have been so prepared that it will gather a large number of people. The fact of sharing it between 4 classes builds a precious bond, through the discovery of the work of the others. It is a privileged space for building empathy. This screening will be a very strong moment, very invested, with an undeniable social impact.