Tuesday September 16th, 2014

Promoting Journalism and Democracy

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, 16 September 2014 — Met this morning with reporters from Diario El Mundo newspaper and showed them my film, “The Gangs,” that I made last year in Guatemala. Both countries suffer from the presence of urban gangs, so the journalists here could relate to the piece.

I’m here this week on a State Department assignment, the theme of which is “The Role of Journalism in a Democratic Society.”

This is the first time I’ve been here in 25 years. So much has changed. But not much has changed.

(Photos by Bill Gentile)

Below, students at the University of El Salvador at the end of my afternoon presentation there.


Sunday September 14th, 2014

Express Yourself, Engage Others, With Video

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania, 7 August 2014 — Digital cameras (in this case an iPhone) and the Internet now grant us the opportunity to express ourselves and to engage others as never before.

For the first time in human history we can communicate instantly, globally and in a language, the visual language, that is understandable by all — if we know how to speak it.

I teach the visual storytelling process. At my Video Workshops I teach participants to tell stories, to express themselves, to engage with others, using video. See http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live

There are just 5 days left to register for the 2-5 October workshop. Registration ends at midnight on Thursday 18 September.

Join us. Express yourself. Engage others.

Best regards,

Bill Gentile

(Photo by Bill Gentile)


Saturday September 13th, 2014

Ticket and Tool. Stories With Video.

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania, 7 August 2014 — At some point in my mid-20s I figured out that the field of communication could equip me with “a ticket and a tool.” A ticket in that I could travel beyond the region of my birth in southwest Pennsylvania, to other parts of the world. A tool in that I could engage in the exchange of information to impact people and events.

Now, digital cameras and the Internet empower us more that ever before. The ticket can take us to the other side of the world. And the tool can impact millions.

I teach the visual storytelling process. At my Video Workshops I teach you to use the “ticket and the tool” by telling stories with video. See http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live

There are just 6 days left to register for the 2-5 October workshop. Registration ends at midnight on Thursday 18 September.

Join us. Write your own ticket. Use your own tool.


Bill Gentile

Saturday September 6th, 2014

$100 Refund for October 2-5, 2014 Video Workshop

WASHINGTON, DC, 6 September 2014 — Get a $100 refund when you join us at the October 2-5, 2014 Video Workshop in Washington, DC.

Learn to “Raise Your Voice!” by making powerful videos during this four-day, total immersion into the visual storytelling craft — and save $100 while you’re at it. For more information, click HERE.

Registration ends at midnight on Thursday 18 September.

Monday September 1st, 2014

From, “Born From Blood:” Best Stuff First

KIGALI, Rwanda, 26 July 2014 — I’ve learned to put the best material first in the films I make. Studies show that we have a limited time — just seconds, really — to engage an audience either intellectually or emotionally. If we don’t “hook” them in that brief time period, we lose them.

I’m making a short film, titled “Born From Blood,” about my recent return to Rwanda after having visited there for the first time in 1996 when a colleague and I were on assignment for ABC’s Nightline With Ted Koppel to make a piece on the women raped during the 1994 Genocide.

A young Tutsi woman, Chantal, was our interpreter and guide on that visit. And for the past five years she’s encouraged me to return to her country to witness the transformation of Rwanda since my first trip.

The attached clip shows Chantal visiting a community work project in Kigali. It’s fun and it’s exciting. I may begin the film with this clip. To see the clip, click HERE.

This is the kind of lesson that I teach at my Video Workshops. To learn more, click HERE. My next workshop is scheduled for October 2-5, 2014, in Washington, DC.

If you want to take the workshop ONLINE, click HERE.

Either way, please contact me with questions.

Best regards,

Bill Gentile

Friday August 29th, 2014

From “Born From Blood:” How to Pan

KIGALI, Rwanda, 26 July 2014 — I traveled really light on this trip to Rwanda, carrying only my iPhone and no other gear. No tripod. So it was nice to know how to make a fairly steady pan when I saw the opportunity.

I visited a community project in the Rwandan capital, shooting my central character as she showed me around a city that I hadn’t visited since 1996. And a pan shot of the work, the people and the location, seemed appropriate.

So to make a pan with no tripod I suggest: Find something on which to stabilize yourself. A wall. A pole. A car bumper. Anything that will help keep you and the camera stable. Take position at the point where you want to END the pan. Then twist your body to where you want to BEGIN the pan. In this case, I twisted my body to the right. Hit the “Record” button and allow your body to relax and just flow from right to left. As your muscles relax, your body will move smoothly to the end point of the pan.

Pushing your way INTO the pan is counter-productive, in that your muscles are straining (as opposed to relaxing) and this results in unsteadiness. Check out this shot to see what I mean. Click HERE.

These are some of the lessons that I’ve picked up during nearly 40 years in the field, and that I teach both at American University and in my Video Workshops. For more information see http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live.

For my ONLINE course, see http://videojournalismworkshops.com

Wednesday August 20th, 2014

Raise Your Voice! at October 2-5 Video Workshop

WASHINGTON, DC, 20 August 2014 — Learn to Raise Your Voice! with video at my Video Workshop in the nation’s capital on October 2-5. This four-day workshop is an intensive immersion in the craft of visual storytelling. Learn to tell powerful video stories. Raise Your Voice! about issues that are important to you.

To register, see http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live. Space is limited.

See you in October!

Best regards,

Bill Gentile

Tuesday August 19th, 2014

Nicaragua Photos on Cover of Joan Didion’s “A Book of Common Prayer”

WASHINGTON, DC, 19 August 2014 — I received confirmation this morning that two of the images from my book of photographs, “Nicaragua,” will be used as the cover of Audible’s audio edition of “A Book of Common Prayer,” by Joan Didion. This is a great honor, with so much connective tissue.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Joan Didion, but I knew Didion’s daughter, Quintana Roo, who spent some time in Nicaragua during the 1980s. At the time I was working as a photojournalist, and Quintana was interested in the craft. She actually spent more time with my youngest brother Rob (also then a photojournalist) than she did with me, but I remember her as being a pleasant young woman.

Quintana died of acute pancreatitis on August 26, 2005.

I’ve read Joan’s book, “Salvador,” quite some time ago. It is a riveting account of life in that Central American nation during the civil war. From what I understand, John Hoagland spent time with Didion, showing her around Salvador and explaining some of the harsh realities of one of the darkest, most violent corners of the earth at that time.

John and I had spent a lot of time together covering the 1979 Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua. We were “stringers” then. He moved on to El Salvador and became Newsweek Magazine’s Contract Photographer for Latin America and the Caribbean. He was killed covering a firefight there in 1984. A year later I became Newsweek Magazine’s Contract Photographer for Latin America and the Caribbean.

I plan to purchase “A Book of Common Prayer.”


Saturday August 16th, 2014

Use Long Lenses to “Pull” elements of the Image Together

ARUSHA, Tanzania, 2 August 2014 — A Masai goat herder tends to his animals on a highway just outside of Arusha, on the way to Tanzania’s National Park.

Had I not made this image from a moving vehicle, I would have stepped back and used a longer focal length on the camera lens, to “pull” the goats closer to the viewer. We know that longer focal length lenses compress images, and wide angle lenses separate them.

These are the kinds of things I teach in my Video Workshops, the next of which will be conducted in Washington, DC, on 2-5 October this year. To learn more about my workshops, see http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live

(Photo by Bill Gentile)

Friday August 1st, 2014

Making Video in Post-Genocide Rwanda

NYAMATA, Rwanda, 29 July 2014 — Chantal was the interpreter working for a colleague and I who visited Rwanda in 1996. We were on assignment for “ABC’s Nightline With Ted Koppel,” doing a report on Rwandan women who had been raped during the 100-day killing spree that has come to be know as the “Rwandan Genocide.” I’ve returned to visit some of the friends I made during that first trip, Chantal among them. I’m making a film about my return to Rwanda after 18 years. Chantal is one of the characters in the film.

Some of the 800,000 victims of Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide are buried in a memorial here, in this town about an hour’s drive south of Kigali. I first visited this site, with Chantal, in 1996. I filmed some of the dead.

In this picture, Chantal tries to explain to her 9-year-old son Peter what happened here in 1994, why the remains of so many Rwandans are enshrined in this memorial, why all these people were killed.

It was a tough conversation.

(Photo by Bill Gentile)