how to make a memorable home video

Home video has a bad name. The very words bring to mind interminable evenings watching footage of the neighbours on holiday in Marbella, or at their daughter's wedding. It is invariably shot with a technique unique to home video: Wobble-O-Vision. And, worst of all, it is haunted by the cackling spectre of You've Been Framed.

It doesn't have to be like that, though. The Video Nation scheme has shown that home video can be used for something more challenging than the banana-skin antics that so delight Jeremy Beadle's audience. Over the past two years, Video Nation has showcased the lives of "ordinary people" whose words and deeds have been screened every day on BBC2 in that juicy two-minute slot just before Newsnight.

At any one time, Video Nation has up to 50 contributors, and all their tapes will be lodged with the National Film and Television Archive. "That's one of the motivating factors for contributors," says Chris Mohr, co-producer of Video Nation, "it validates the importance of everyday life."

Conrad Gorner, a contributor and ex-miner from Lancashire, agrees. "Those Pathe Newsreels are becoming quite trendy now, people are buying them for the year they were born. But you can only generalise with Pathe News, like saying who won the Cup. With Video Nation, you can go right down to the last detail of the way we are now. Things that seem trivial now, in years to come, will mean something."

Before Christmas, I attended a training-day for contributors at the BBC to see what it takes to get on Video Nation and, in the process, become part of our national heritage. The other people attending gave an indication of the range Video Nation covers: an 86-year-old Jungian psychotherapist rubbed shoulders with a Millfield schoolgirl, a deaf student, an Asda shop-worker, a gamekeeper, a night-club worker and a prison warden. You couldn't have contrived a better cross-section to represent a microcosm of Britain.

They were united by a desire to tell their own story. Mohr explains that: "They all say, `you don't see people like me on television. I just want to show people that I'm like everybody else'. Everybody feels misrepresented and turned into a one-dimensional person by television."

In introductory discussions, Juliet Wilson, a Video Nation researcher, emphasised the importance of personality in the films. "It's lovely to have a sense of the person behind the camera. If you just say, `this is a tree', it's very difficult for us to make anything of that. But if you say, `this is the tree where I carved my name with my boyfriend', that allows us to key into something personal. We feel we're privy to what's happening."

We went on to be tutored in the basics of film-making - general views, close-ups, cutaways, zooms and pans - but perhaps the most instructive part of the day was listening to the experiences of Gorner, who has had several films broadcast. He advised contributors to be selective and resist the temptation to shoot randomly. "Try not to use it like a new toy at Christmas," he said. "You need a beginning, a middle and an end - whatever the subject is. Camcording is like train-spotting. So you don't get bored with it, you have to wait till something actually happens."

He also recommended that contributors be themselves. "If you're a posh person, be posh. Don't worry about what other people might think - that just spoils your flow."

Mohr hopes that Video Nation will carry on until the end of the century, and believes that "Some of the material will yield its greatest interest in 50 years' time". In the meantime, she denies that television is overdosing on camcorders. "I don't think there are too many video programmes," she asserts. "I think there are too many cookery programmes."

A new, extended, four-part series of `Video Nation' starts tonight at 7pm on BBC2. Those who wish to contribute should write to: Video Nation, G509, BBC White City, 201 Wood Lane, London, W12 7TS

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk