Why make an interactive documentary?
It’s time to go beyond the headlines and beyond just-the-facts stories about routine sexual violence in India. This is a creative, interactive project that tries to show what it's really like for a young woman in urban India to accomplish the simple task of getting from one place to another-- whether that's on a train, bus, or just walking down the street. What environmental and social forces contribute to the violence that seems to be increasing, particularly in public places? And what does it mean to be “fearless,” as the victim of the Delhi gang rape was called?
These larger issues aren’t new. In fact, sometimes we hear so much about violence against women that we forget what the impact is on real human beings. That’s why I’m creating a first-person, interactive documentary: An experience where YOU get to walk around a city, take local transportation, encounter harassers and make some real-life decisions. I’m hoping this new, creative format will engage people and rekindle interest in a subject that is often so inscrutable or overwhelming that we withdraw completely.
This past summer I went to Mumbai-- widely cited as one of the safest cities in India-- interviewed dozens of women and investigated the safety of women there. Now I’m trying to go to Delhi, sometimes called the “rape capital” of India. Even in Mumbai, I couldn’t go everywhere I wanted to alone, so this time I’d like to go back with another student who will crew with me.
Getting to India is the most expensive part of all this, and even though we’re in school and have access to digital equipment and faculty for editorial guidance, we don’t have the travel funds we need to make multiple trips. That’s why we need you.
We are asking 100 people to donate $50.
(But of course any amount helps!)
What do you mean by interactive?
The idea is to create a "choose-your-own-adventure" style documentary that will live online. As the user, you'll navigate the streets of urban India and go from one place to another, simulating the experience a young Indian woman might have during the course of her daily routine. You'll have to make some choices about your mode of transportation, whether than means the train, the bus, or something else (like a rickshaw). You'll encounter harassers -- and confront them. Along this journey, you'll also get to meet real people (from young women to police to activists) from all backgrounds who will share their personal experiences with sexual violence.
But you’re just a student!
Which is great! As a student, I’m lucky to have access to some of the best faculty advisors in the world, free equipment, pressure to get work done on deadline, and a not-yet-jaded attitude towards journalism. We’ve also had hundreds of hours of practice improving our camerawork and our storytelling techniques in TV and multimedia classes.
Oh, and I happen to have visited India several times and speak Hindi, which is a pretty big reporting asset.
But you’re just an American! All Westerners do is tell negative stories about countries they don’t really know. Why can’t you ever report on the good stuff that’s happening?
Violence against women is certainly not unique to India and we realize there are other issues –- good and bad -- that deserve to be covered, as in any country. But that’s not a reason to not do a story, especially one that has so many people talking right now. And even though this story is about a horrible problem, the positive side is that so many people are now speaking up about harassment with vigor, many for the first time.
Where did you get the numbers in your video?
Data and statistics are admittedly hard to come by – especially when incidents are underreported and government bookkeeping is less than reliable. The statistics in the trailer are from two surveys. The first statistic is from a survey of a thousand women in Mumbai done by the We The People Foundation. The second is from a larger survey conducted by the Hindustan Times and the Akshara Centre which included about 4,000 women. Anecdotally, almost every woman I spoke with in India over the summer had experienced some form of harassment.
Where is my money going?
The money is going to fund the production of this documentary. That means airfare, accommodation, local transportation, and food for two people in India for about a month. Anything left over will go towards incidental equipment costs and/or a local guide.
What’s in it for me?
Besides eternal gratitude and inner peace for helping out a grad student? Check out the nifty incentives :)
Music in video: "Rhizome" by Pariah Carey
Risks and challenges
The main challenge is to do some solid shooting in a fairly chaotic environment (India) and then edit the footage into an engaging interactive platform. Since I've already had the experience of shooting in Mumbai over summer and have begun editing the footage, I am confident our trip to Delhi will be targeted and efficient. And with the rising use of gamefication and online interactives to tell stories, coupled with input from mentors embedded in the multimedia world, I strongly believe we'll be able to produce an immersive experience that will be worth the effort.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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