What guides what we tell and what we owe to our subjects?
I’ve been thinking a lot about ethics in non-fiction video production and storytelling over the past couple of years, in particular. For a lot of people, video production means just setting up and pointing a camera, getting some good light on the subject and… Voilá! Put this clip next to that clip and you have a video! In reality, there are so many more levels to this than most of us realize. There are at least 4-5 different major software applications for editing, alone, with different values and variables for each. But one big component of video production which distinguishes elite producers from those still learning is ethics. (I know, I used to think ethics was boring, but it’s pretty exciting, actually!) This will probably be a multi-part (at least 2-part) series, so I will keep these posts fairly simple.
To begin, ethics means a lot more than “right or wrong,” when it comes to representing people. With the DSLR revolution in video production, many people previously accustomed to knowing a video camera when they see one are now often unaware they are being video-graphed. Does this change the rules? At the least, should we ask if people are okay with video being taken of them? One major consideration is that they will no longer be “candid” or natural and this will change the value of the video for the shooter. But this is just one of the ways ethics is important and is a slight digression from the point of this post.