Focus: Communications - Three minutes with ... Mary Matheson, producer, togetherTV

What is togetherTV?

It's a Christian Aid project that was set up three years ago to bypass the media and allow people from developing countries to speak directly to people in Europe and elsewhere. Our website was recently shortlisted in the new media category at the One World Media Awards.

Each short film consists of an individual talking straight to camera about an aspect of their everyday lives. We receive EU funding and produce films, between 30 seconds and three minutes long, that can be downloaded from www.togetherTV.com. By using the internet we can reach bigger audiences - this year we have already received 104,175 hits.

Why is the project needed?

We have found it more and more difficult to get programmes about the developing world broadcast on mainstream television. Our films challenge people's perceptions about people in these countries. They tend to be quite intimate, so you get a real insight into their lives.

How are the films produced?

If Christian Aid makes a visit to one of its projects, we take the opportunity to fit in a couple of days of filming. We try to find people who we think have got an interesting story to tell - it's amazing how at ease most people seem in front of the camera. We also broadcast the films on Discovery Networks Europe and use that to direct people to the website. We have had some great feedback from people you wouldn't normally think would be interested.

Do any films stand out?

We made one recently, of a girl in Africa showing us around her home, that almost seemed like a home video. We also featured a retired lady in Swaziland who wanted to be active and helped out at an HIV orphanage. I liked that one because it could have been a retired lady in the UK - only she was talking about something most of us never have to deal with.

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