Always assess the risks before filming or sharing - the individuals filmed, their community, the filmer, bystanders, and others included in the production of the footage may be at risk if the footage is shared. Audiences viewing and sharing the video could also be targeted.
When conducting an interview, ask the interviewee if they want their identity concealed. If so, consider having them wear a mask, face away from the camera, film their hands or feet, or against a light-source coming from behind them. Alternatively, you can blur their face or distort their voice in post-production.
Consent is a living agreement- it can be withdrawn at any time and the individuals filmed are not required to explain their reasons for doing so. Do make sure to explain that there are some limits to withdrawing consent - once your footage has been shared online, it is impossible to track and delete instances where the video has been reposted, screenshot, or otherwise saved privately.
It is most important that the integrity of the file remains intact, but whenever possible, also make sure the chain of custody is well documented. Use a spreadsheet or database to keep track of where you store the footage and who you share it with. When handing off to lawyers or investigators, you will most likely need to attest that you recorded the video and that you have not altered the video file in any way.
Remember that some people are not out with their gender identity and/or sexual orientation- this may include separate handles and accounts on social media. If your interviewee chooses not to obscure their identity, during the consent process ask which identity they would like to be associated with in the footage. If the video will be tagged and shared online, be sure to get the correct social media handle.
Always remember to carefully consider any identifying information which may come across on screen- location of the interview, tattoos, scars, and voices can be easily identified by a member of the individual’s community. Be especially aware of reflective surfaces in the background which may give away information which is otherwise intended to be hidden.
When discussing consent with an interviewee or subject who appears in your footage, never make them feel pressured or guilty for withdrawing or not giving their consent. This is especially important when conducting interviews. If a minor is involved, you must obtain informed consent from their legal guardian.
Provide the audience with context about what is depicted in the video, and when possible, include information about what happened before or after the incident. If you believe there is value in sharing content that is misleading or distorts the truth, explain why you are doing it. Think about potential harmful uses of the video after it is shared, and remember once something is online, you lose control of how and where it is shared.
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Before filming, consider your safety both during and after the footage is captured. Keep the identities of those you are working with and individuals being filmed secure. Use secure communication channels to plan and share information on filming locations, times, equipment used and any corresponding payments made for filming purposes. Choose trusted professionals and contacts who are also aware of the risks to assist with filming and editing.
Consider sharing with a trusted friend if you believe the footage is at risk of being taken away or deleted. If the footage is sensitive or carries identifiable information which may put you or others at risk, take steps to secure the content by using encrypted file-storing methods and protected drives.
Once shared, understand that any identifying information about you may be used to request verification and permission for further use by others. Sharing footage includes potential targeting of yourself and people you are associated with by perpetrators of on-screen violence you have captured.
Before taking action, STOP. List out your goals and consider how and if video can help you achieve them. There are no clear cut rules but the guiding principle here is to do no harm. Talk to trusted contacts in the field about alternative methods of documentation before filming or sharing a video.
Whether you are filming, sharing, or viewing human rights abuse footage be aware and mindful of the effect it can have on you. Graphic imagery, regardless of how many times or long it is viewed, can be a traumatic experience and have lasting effects on your well-being.