Evidence is a web documentary, telling the story of Kidane, an Eritrean refugee fighting for his asylum in Denmark.
His trip resembles that of many others: every month at least three thousand people fled Eritrea in the hope of reaching Europe, according to UNHCR.
The journey was started from Eritrea to Ethiopia and then South Sudan, North Sudan and through the Sahara desert to reach Libya. And from the city of Tripoli to cross the Mediterranean.
The Eritreans are fleeing from dictatorship and want to land on the Italian coast, to be able to get in the Scandinavian countries.
But Kidane Berhe, 31, had decided to document this journey, recording – in secret – video with his phone: filming the journey to be believed, to have a proof of what the people are forced to endure to find a better life.
The documentary reflects his current situation with his past, the dangerous journey he made to achieve this point. The documentary uses original footage from the journey that Kidane himself recorded with his mobile phone.
In the middle of this hazardous situation, he realized the absurdity of the struggles the refugees go through and wanted to have an evidence from the journey.
His aim was to tell about it to the world if he made it to Europe. Kidane began its journey 15 July 2012, and he also lost his friend during the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. Now he lives in Denmark. Kidane’s footage takes the viewer to the Saharan desert, in traffickers cars, and finally to the small boat in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, the documentary shows Kidane’s today’s life situation in a Danish asylum center, and follows his path all the way to the final asylum interview in Copenhagen.
The special combination of Kidane’s video material and professional footage illustrates the migrant trafficking issue in a way it makes hopefully a powerful impact on the viewer.
Evidence was presented during Slideluck Roma.
a. What program was used to create the multimedia?
We used Final Cut Pro X. The work was made during an international workshop at Danish School of Media and Journalism led by the storytelling agency Bombay Flying Club.
b. How and why did you choose that music?
The music is one of the most important things in every web doc. Knowing that, we spent a long time choosing the best songs. To make the process easier, we divided the documentary in different parts, and asked ourselves what kind of feeling each of them is connected to. For instance, when we see Kidane’s mobile phone videos from the dangerous trip through the desert, we feel drama and suspense. To enhance that feeling, we browsed through different types of ethnic music, with many different instruments.
The most difficult thing was to choose the music for the beginning, when we see Kidane’s life in the asylum center, when his days were full of emptiness and waiting. How does it sound like when you’re doing nothing? For subtle emotions like this, it’s very easy to choose music that can mislead the viewer.
If we can give some tips, this could be the first one: take time to choose the right music, try different variations, and choose the one that gives you the strongest emotion. But – as a second tip – do not overuse the music. Sometimes silence is golden. For the final version of the documentary, we cut off most of the music we had in the previous edits. If the music starts to get too sentimental and begins override the footage, it’s better to remove it.
We found our music from the website www.neosounds.com. They have many tracks, and if you search long enough, you can find something good. It’s possible to download a demo version of the song that you can test in Final Cut. If you like it, you can buy the real track later.
c. Tell us about the editing process when you think of a multimedia.
We think that for a multimedia you need a good main character, and that’s what we found in Kidane. He was different from the other refugees we had met during our careers. Kidane is an educated man who is aware that his people are victims of injustice, and he looks you straight into the eyes and asks: “Why?”.
A multimedia piece also needs a storyline. Even though we had a good theme, a refugee’s journey, and a strong character, we needed to find a specific story in his life that we wanted to tell. During the time we were shooting, Kidane was facing hard times, worrying about his missing sister and preparing for his final interview. It was sometimes stressful to be a friend and a journalist at the same time, experiencing those fears next to him, and trying to choose which way to shoot. We couldn’t know how that would end – as a tragedy, disappointment or happiness – but Kidane gave us the permission to document what we wanted to. Through discussions we found out which way to go. It was vital also for the future editing process to know what kind of material we needed.
A good and profound interview track was essential as well. At the beginning of the editing, we sat down with our long transcribed interview and picked up the parts that were related to the storyline we chose. Once we had the audio, it wasn’t so hard to build up the visual narrative. We got a lot of inspiration from Kidane’s own video clips from the journey, which we had the privilege to use. They affected both our shooting and editing. In Final Cut, we just needed to find a way to bind together the past and the present in a natural way.
Planning, shooting, constructing and editing a multimedia means a lot of work, and we were glad to be able to do it together, as two photojournalists, both with our strengths and weaknesses.