Development Cooperation Handbook/The video resources linked to this handbook/The Documentary Story/Editing the stories


Editing the stories

Originally we thought that I would have started editing the stories only after the first edition done by RAI. But as RAI approach became more and more diverted from the MDGs and as the material we were collecting was becoming more and more abundant, we decided we needed to start editing before the RAI output were ready. Even if the contractual agreement was that we could not put the stories on line before RAI has used them for their television programs.

Until then we had continued to put interviews on Youtube. Then we started also to put what we called “backstage portions”, showing us working at the project and talking about how to manage it. But in fact that was more than a backstage. It was a meta-communication about what we were doing, and so it was the story of our documentary project, which would have later become the main narrative trend of our editing. It was a backstage for the initial TV RAI product; but it was the central axis on which to built the documentary.

I even published on youtube some videos where I was talking to Shachindra, the main editor of our team, about the style of editing I wanted to experiment. What was really important for me was to avoid as much as possible “God’s voice”, i.e. the impersonal speaker. I wanted to use as much as possible the interviews of the stakeholders and the team internal dialogues. This would have allowed us to bring forth the different perspectives and so made a documentary which would be acceptable to viewers from different cultural contexts.

In these backstage portions we also started showing some internal challenges of project management and the difficulties of team building amongst professionals from different fields and with loyalty to different organizations.

This approach of various “layers” of editing was becoming very long and was involving many resources. But it was a sort of “organic process” that was in accordance with the development of our story and our mission itself. So we could avoid the dogmatic element which is always superimposed when we manipulate the material to suite our preconceived ethical stands.

Next Script.pngAdding more stories in India

In the editorial process of the documentary, we have been proceeding along three different editorial structures:

  1. The main editorial line has been moving along the 8 MDGs In the 8 episodes we we included the "stories" pertaining to the specific Millennium Goal. Film-Camera.pngThe stories related to the specific MDGs
  2. Along with the 8 MDGs subdivision we included for each episode one of the development issues into which we organized the arguments brought forward by the testimonials Film-Camera.pngThe development Cooperation Issues. This in order to create a dynamic interaction between the specific projects, that are implemented "at the grass-roots level", and the general debate, taking place among international institutions and the global media.
  3. The third editorial line instead proceeds along ⇒ the story of our project as it unfolds and as team encounters project challenges.

Along these three patterns we are weaving the story as we jump (with flash-forwards and flash-backs) from what we call the "front-stage scenes" that narrate the projects stories and the "backstage scenes", i.e. the recording of the TVP team at work and the dialogues among team members. The "front-stage scenes" narrate what the team has seen. The backstage scenes reveal the "interpretations" and the work done for integrating the diverse viewpoints collected on the ground. Besides giving a plot to the various independent stories and opinions of experts, putting "us" in the story removes the typical journalist pretentiousness of being "objective"; and since the team members belong to different cultural contexts, their dialogue enables the articulation of different cultural viewpoints. So, the viewers from different parts of the world will find that they are not only the "observed ones" but also "the observers". And enables us to broadcast, without major editorial changes, the same product in the different countries which have been partners of the global effort to achieve the MDGs.


  Backstage ⇒ Editing Issues