DigiTales is a digital storytelling project involving people from across Europe making short films about their lives.
The DigiTales method works with people to develop story ideas through story circles, drama, photography, drawing, music, video clips and narrative. They learn how to write a script, edit photos and drawings, and make them into a two minute film, which is, with their permission, posted onto the DigiTales website: personal stories across nations are exhibited and exchanged and, as the site grows, a patchwork-quilt of personal moments builds to create an evolving picture of diverse populations in Europe and beyond.
The pilot project finished in December 2007, when the EQUAL funding came to an end. In order to facilitate the development of DigiTales beyond the pilot phase, Goldsmith's London University is supporting the project through a newly formed Company Limited by Guarantee, Digitales Ltd. that is linked to the University's Communications Dept. through Goldsmith's Investment Fund. Goldsmith's was a partner within Inclusion Through Media and undertook evaluation and research to support DigiTales. The benefits of this collaboration enables DigiTales to develop and provides a wealth of academic, media and research professionals to contribute to its growth, providing contextual, evaluation and training expertise within the context of a major UK flagship University in the field. It is Goldsmith's ambition to connect with universities in countries where DigiTales initiatives and projects take place.
The partners are in the process of forming a Digitales Association which is due to launch in 2008. This will be a vehicle to take transnational digital storytelling forward and is likely to involve partners from Sweden, Bulgaria, Poland and Lithuania as well as the original participants.
The DigiTales form is very flexible and adaptable: a Tale can be a simple combination of still photographs/drawings and voice-over, or it can be a short animation or live action movie, silent, or with music or a fully scripted voice-over or dramatic exchange. The stories themselves can evolve from whatever a 'Digiteller' wants to express about their lives, or they can be developed thematically, to focus on a particular issue or topic. The approach is dependent upon the reason for which DigiTales are being made and the skills and resources available. For example, in our pilot project, we trained trainers using the simplest format (stills and voice-over) to make a two minute tale about an important personal moment in their lives. The result is a fascinating collection of insights - extraordinary moments from ordinary lives - of people from different cultures across Europe. Our German partners, BGZ, used the approach to run a film competition for film students, who would make live action, silent movies that would explore themes around racism. In Amsterdam, our Dutch partners from the 'Zina' project, working with Muslim women in the west of the city, have been commissioned by the local authority to use the DigiTales method as a means of consultation with the community, in an area which is about to be regenerated.
DigiTales can be a simple sequence of images with a voice-over, or they can take more sophisticated forms, such as animation, or moving image. The form depends on the skills and resources available of those making the films, and on the most appropriate way in which a DigiTeller wants to communicate their story.
DigiTales workshops have also taken place in Sydney, Australia in January 2008. People working with excluded young people were trained and supported in running their first DigiTales workshops - the results can be seen on http://ice.org.au/projects/digitales. DigiTales is also currently running a train the trainer project for the British Council as part of the 'Living Together' Imagine Your Future programme. DigiTales will work in Greece in June 2008 and Israel in September 2008 to train 24 people from Azerbaijan, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, Macedonia, Slovenia and Armenia, who will go on to produce DigiTales with young people from ethnic minority and migrant communities. DigiTales has also been approached by organisations in Portugal, Spain and Brazil.
DigiTales has been used in a variety of settings for a range of different purposes. Because it focuses on personal stories, and results can be achieved in short periods of time with relatively little equipment or resource, the DigiTales method is very transferable, as we have demonstrated through the pilot project. DigiTales enables people to tell their own stories and learn digital media skills, as well as building confidence and self-esteem. The method places the stories under the control of the storyteller. The aim is to bring people together through their personal stories and to capture a wide variety of experiences across all of the partner countries.
Digital storytelling is a simple format to pick up and use with young people and with people who do not have advanced technical skills. As a method, it has enabled more personal forms of filmmaking and storytelling because the technology - and its costs - are less of a barrier than other kinds of filmmaking. Often stories are built from people's own photo collections, or people can generate new images using photography, video, drawings, animation.
DigiTales can help to:
DigiTales is managed by a Board of six directors: Mark Dunford, Tricia Jenkins, Robert Smith, Jerry Rothwell, Gareth Stanton, and Outi Vellacott.