Capturing Everyday Stories: Call for Participation

The U.S. Embassy in South Africa and Sunshine Cinema are partnering to provide a series of intensive, five-day virtual workshops that train aspiring storytellers in Gauteng in the ability to capture local engaging short films made on their mobile smartphones. The workshop is open to journalists, activists, media professionals, local leaders and others who want to tell truthful and valuable stories about their communities, and learn more about how to use those stories for impact.

Participants will learn from Sunshine Cinema’s media educators and U.S. filmmaker Dawn Valadez whose documentary film, The Pushouts, will be featured in our virtual screening calendar in March 2021.

Dawn Valadez, is a queer, Xicana, filmmaker, social worker, artist, youth development specialist, resource wrangler, and impact strategist. Dawn is spearheading The Pushouts impact campaign. The Pushouts engages audiences through a character-driven story of Victor Rios, “dropout,” 3-time felon, and now nationally recognized expert on the “school-to-prison” pipeline and beloved professor of Sociology at U.C. Santa Barbara. Dawn’s media work focuses on race, class, education and coming of age in the 21st Century U.S, and she will bring her valuable insights and decades of experience in documentary filmmaking and impact-producing to the workshop.


– Virtual film screening of The Pushouts: 23 March 2021 (attendance compulsory)

Workshop: 24, 25, 26, 29 and 30 March 2021 (participation in the full workshop is required by selected participants)

Specifically, the workshop addresses the following themes in 2-3 hour slots per day:

Day 1: THEORY: How can we use photos and video to engage an audience for social impact? Who is your audience. Who do you want it to impact. Do you want the film to create change, awareness?

Day 2: DEVELOPMENT & PRE- PRODUCTION: What is your story? What do you have access to? How do you want to tell it? How do we set up and plan a mobile phone production? How to review and understand documentary styles and structures, including understanding a 3-act structure.

Day 3: PRODUCTION: How do we use our smartphones like a professional, pitching your story, and formulating a shoot plan. Technical focus on smart phone filmmaking.

Day 4: POST-PRODUCTION: How do we organize media files and edit a video on professional software?

Day 5: DISTRIBUTION: How do we share our films through networks and platforms to reach our targeted audience, creating pathways for impact?

Upon completion of the workshop, participants would have each completed a short video portrait about a strong character of their choice by the end of this course, and learnt about impact producing and socially engaging distribution strategies. The course will help those that already have experience improve their storytelling and technical skills.  

The workshop will be limited to a maximum of 30 participants. Participants will be selected based on responses to this survey. More detailed responses will accordingly be more competitive. Feel free to share the link to this survey if you have a colleague who may be interested in participating.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Participants must attend all five days of the virtual workshop (two to three hours each day)
  • Participants must have reliable access to the internet, a notebook and pen, laptop with an up-to-date operating system, a good quality smartphone with a camera, enough available memory to shoot video, with full battery, charger and cable to connect the device to a computer, and headphones.
  • Open to participants between the ages of 21-35, in Tshwane, Johannesburg, and Soweto, South Africa.


Application form must be completed before 5pm on March 10th 2021.

No late or incomplete submissions will be considered.