Friday, May 13, 2011

Our first PROFESSIONAL video

This week I want to thank Matt Twomey, who is editing a video of Little Rock Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD).

Matt does print and web journalism and documentary filmmaking. He has an MA in journalism from Syracuse University, and served as a writer, copy editor and editor for such publications as Business Week, the New York Post, and the Japan Times. We are indeed fortunate to have such a talented professional helping us spread the word about Little Rock.

John and I have come to the conclusion that to call Little Rock an ECD understates what it does. Yes, it IS a nursery school – and a very good one. It is nurturing, child-centered, and does a beautiful job of preparing these little ones for primary school. We would have sent our own children there – except that we were blessed not to be living in Kibera.

But Little Rock is so much more than a nursery school. Its mission is to support the whole family, and so director Lilly Oyare has reached out to teenage moms, providing a day-care center so these girls can finish school. She has included deaf and handicapped children, preparing them for primary school, finding schools that would accept these children, and – when no school would take them - teaching them the primary school curriculum. She provides a workshop for parents to sew, weave and knit as a way for them to earn income. The Little Rock Library purchases all the primary school textbooks, so graduates can be tutored after school and do their homework. She even fields a soccer team that is the champion of East Africa!

Last February, Lilly spoke about all this in a video we hope to use to raise funds for Little Rock. Matt is doing an amazing job editing this video. We’d love to know if you have any thoughts about it. Please comment here so we can all discuss how it could be improved before we open it to a wider audience.


  1. Eric says:
    I thought that the video was done quite well. I liked the commentary highlighting/clarifying the key points in text across the screen. Ideally, I would like the video to be shorter. Nevertheless, I am not sure what to eliminate and if someone has an interest, they will likely be willing to sit through 9 minutes. For those people without an interest, whether it is 5 minutes or 9 minutes might not make a difference anyway. I will watch the video one more time later and try to have some tangible suggestions but I believe that you are creating something wonderful.

  2. Liz says:
    Wow, what fantastic progress! The video is wonderful. I have 3 questions/suggestions.

    Would it be possible to include some text at about 2:00 into the film stating how many children are in the special needs program?
    I thought the only piece that didn't really add to the big picture was the interview with Daniel.... I loved watching the uncut footage you took of him, but i'm not sure the portion you've included in the film adds a lot. Does anyone else agree?
    Is it possible to have smoother/cleaner transitions in the places where Lily's interview has been edited? The way it has been cut makes it very evident that the interview has been edited, and there may be a way to make it look a bit more natural (although I personally don't know much about these techniques).....
    I can't wait to see the next version!

    Love, liz

  3. Vicky says:
    Hello John and Judy--
    LOVE the video! Wow, truly amazing, important and inspiring works. Lily is amazing.
    Here's my feedback:
    -Title-- instead of ECD, spell out words (you have to listen to know what this is); I would get "Kenya" into the title
    -Love that Lilly talks about the importance of food-- "can't teach a sick or hungry child"-- so true, and opens up other possibilities for help
    -Not sure about the music between the segments...maybe a better choice? Could just be me.
    -Results-- so glad you have this! I was going to suggest and it popped up!
    -Pads for Peace- suggest making a stronger point about the impact -- lifted this from your site "Once a girl begins to menstruate, she is generally unable to keep herself clean during the school day. Many girls miss a week of school every month. In a few months time they are hopelessly behind. The result: only 20% of African girls go on to secondary school." Trim that down, but somehow strengthen the point (in the text box, not the interview).
    -All the text boxes are great, they drive home the main points. Great use of those.
    -Daniel's story-- GREAT! The personal story is huge (John- is that your voice asking the questions?)
    -"If No Little Rock"-- great! I was just writing that you should add something like that...and there is was!

    Final thoughts:
    -perhaps a commentary by one of you, why people in the US should care about what happens in Kenya. You can take a minute to tell your story, as a US citizen.
    -call to action, maybe? List "5 things you can do right now"-- The book Half the Sky does that at the end. Great time to catch your audience. If you have watched through to the end, you must be hooked!
    -Fantastic work, truly!


  4. Another question: should be have subtitles while Lilly is speaking?

  5. This is a powerful, beautiful video. Watching it absolutely inspired me. Here are initial thoughts:

    1. I wish you included a word or two on Lily's background. The footage goes from slums--so we are thinking things are really dire--to a beautiful school founded by an articulate and intelligent woman. The contrast was a little startling. I wanted to know where she came from and why she came. Here I mean one sentence, but I think it would smooth the transition from the slums to her.

    2. I agree with Eric, I wish this was a bit shorter. I'm not sure what you could cut, though I'm with Liz on the Daniel issue. Lily focuses on him, so we're expecting something tremendous and it just doesn't come across. His dream of becoming an engineer is noteworthy, but the whole segment weakens the overall message.

    3. I agree also that the editing is choppy and sometimes awkward, particularly in the section when Lily talks about what future expansion plans are going to cost. One cut ends with her looking down, and that feels wrong. She should come across looking sure and determined when discussing the millions she is going to need.

    4. I do not think you need subtitles for Lily. she is so articulate and subtitles might get in the way.

    5. I love the music and the block print!

    Amazing work, powerful video! Even if you kept it exactly as it is, it would be very well received.

  6. I agree with most of the comments above. The length is right if people are interested. Have you considered making shorter versions focusing on parts of the program - 2 minutes on early childhood, 3 minutes on the after school program, a few minutes on the mothers' income programs? These would be excerpts from the overall video and might draw people in. I also agree with the comment about getting Kenya in the title - I was wondering why EPN was supporting something in Arkansas when I first saw "Little Rock".