Before your group can begin suggesting topics it can be helpful to make sure that they have a broad idea of the range of options that are available to them in terms of genre, topic focus, media form (eg short film, website, mural). It’s also important for participants to begin building a group identity and trust in each other.


  • Affirm the reason for the group coming together (To make media!)
  • Build a sense of community and mutual responsibility the group and the project.
  • Media saturation.


Depends on:

  • The nature of the group.Is this a one-off project, or is this a group of people in an organisation that has its own history and values that need to be instilled in the group before embarking on a project?
  • The group’s experience with media-making. If the group is inexperienced, they might need to spend a good amount of time in activities such as watching and discussing media, and they might need to be trained in the fundamental concepts of media production.


Depending on the goals of your particular group, activities at this early stage could draw on team building, media literacy, and technical trainings from the CuriousWorks Toolkit or other resources. For facilitators, the emphasis at this point should be on tapping into and encouraging excitement in the group around the project. Suggestions for activities that help build excitement about media production:

  • Media Show & Tell
    • Participants bring a clip/image/song etc that inspires them to produce their own media. This allows participants to get to know each other through their interests and shared love of media arts. Facilitators should take care to affirm the validity of each individual’s personal preferences, and dig into the various techniques and messages that attract each person to what they enjoy.
  • Mini Film Festival
    • Facilitators “curate” a selection of films or clips that demonstrate a range of genres, styles, or techniques and lead the group in discussions around the feasability of replicating those techniques in their group.
  • Technical Trainings
    • Wherever possible, get the group’s hands on the gear! Nothing is as frustrating as talking about media production when you’re expecting to have a camera in your hand. See the Workshopssection of the CuriousWorks Toolkit for activities that will get your crew’s hands dirty.
  • Field Trips
    • A trip to the movies, an art gallery, an outdoor technical activity, or any activity that gets the group out of their routine can help to create a sense of collective identity. Fun is key to keeping participants coming back in the early days of any program, and field trips can be memorable experiences.

Depending on the focus of your program, there may be a whole range of fundamental educational activities that need to occur before topic selection can begin. Wherever possible, incorporate discussions around media into these fundamental activities. For example, a group working within an organisation with a focus on environmental issues might have an educational aspect to their program that introduces current issues in environmental conservation. A media lens could be turned on the topic by examining portrayals of the topic in various media.

Team-building and the development of trust and affinity among participants can occur through media activities, but can also be built through simply sharing enjoyable time together. Use icebreakers and energizers to create a fun, comfortable, safe environment in which participants feel valued for their contribution. This type of activity can at times feel superfluous to the activity of media-making, but is in fact crucial to the formation of a functional crew.


This model was developed by Dan O’Reilly-Rowe, benefits from his collaboration with a number of educators at Global Action Project in New York City, and builds on practices common in many youth media organisations. The model was first recorded and refined as a part of the Youth Media Learning Network Fellowship , 2007-2008.

Storytelling Prompts | Finding Topics to Explore

Morgan Sully, 2010.  Coming up with a worthy topic for a story can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here’s a few prompts to get you started. Participants Can work for small or large groups.  Not much technology is needed for this activity. Skills/Technique This...