Young Writer Shifts to Video Storytelling for Better Reach

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Mr. Svay LeeMeng and his partner Keo Chanchakrya learn how to operate a camera during Basic Video Training at Development Innovations. [Photo Credit: Development Innovations]
Svay LeeMeng, 26, a young Cambodian writer, has been writing stories about his life as a teenager since he was in high school. However, he struggled to get people to read his stories. He wanted to look at new mediums to connect with his audience, especially video, but didn’t have any skills and didn’t know where to start. “Back then, I had a small team with no formal skills training, and no equipment. So we used our phones to capture videos, and learned some video editing from Youtube and the internet. I wanted to join a video editing course, but it was too expensive for me.”

In 2015, he signed up for a Cambodian short film competition, 1st K-Film Contest, a contest sponsored by the Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) to encourage young Cambodians to get involved in the film industry. Since he had no equipment, he used his phone to take a video and asked his friend to edit the footage for him. Unfortunately, he was not selected as the winner. LeeMeng said, “Camera operation and video editing are very important skills for video production. Even though I had a good concept for my story, the movie was shot in low quality video and I didn’t have strong editing skills. So people didn’t watch it all the way until the end, and they didn’t get my concept.”

After the competition, he saw an announcement on social media and signed up for Development Innovations’ Video Advisory Service. Next, he was referred to join the Basic Video Training at Development Innovations. He learned a lot from this training, including script writing, camera operation, and video editing. “I had no idea about standard video formats, such as what is Vox-Pop and how it is different from interviews, until I completed the training”, he said. LeeMeng completed the basic video training and produced a two-minute video following the training.

In 2016, three days after the training ended, he joined the 2nd K-Film competition to test his new skills. This time, he used Development Innovations Equipment Lending Service, and took his camera, tripod, and microphone on a trip to Banteay Meanchey province to get his footage. “My friends and I couldn’t believe that I could make a film with this quality. They told me I improved a lot, and I believed I could win the next competition”, he said, after completing the video. LeeMeng was right. His video, entitled 3 Heros, about three Cambodians that use natural ingredients to help their village escape from an evil witch’s curse, won 3rd place and $200 from the 2nd K-Film competition. Following this validation of his work, he committed to joining more competitions and continuing to tell his stories with video.

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