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Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

INTERNSHIP REPORT

EVERYDAY PROJECT - CPH:DOX*

SPRING SEMESTER 2017


MA - FILM & MEDIA STUDIES
UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN

EXAMINER
JESPER KOPPEL

HALITIM SAWSAN
DJS 786
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

As part of my studies in Film & Media at the University of Copenhagen I had the chance to
take a project-oriented module during my Master program. This choice has been made primarily
upon my will to apply part of the knowledge I could have gained through more than three years of
academical studies into a more practical sphere(META MISSION). It has also been a great
opportunity for me to step in the working milieu of a foreign country and therefore approach
another work culture (CULTURE).
In November 2016, I applied for an internship in a department of CPH:DOX* - the third
biggest documentary film festival in the world (according to the festival's own datas and rankings
from the last edition in 2015). I have been accepted for starting an internship in January 2017 and
for a period of six months within one of the festival's departments called Everyday (formerly
Everyday Project). Everyday defines itself as “a new video platform developed by CPH:DOX*,
with videos created by the users themselves.” 1. It is an online and digital opened space which first
of all offers room for sharing personal perspectives, stories, and representation of one's own reality.
This project''s editorial guidelines reside in its ontological mission to give voice and power to
people through video-making and so that is to say through the filmic medium. In fact this is exactly
the reason why I was deeply willing to work with Everyday more specifically than for CPH:DOX*.
Everyday project wants to bring to the fore alternative and original point of views of our society and
at the same time use the filmic medium to empower individuals' understanding of and grasp on the
world. Everyday Project is therefore aiming at challenging traditional and mainstream medias by
giving a chance to each and every one of us to share its own stories with an original point of view,
and to depict an authentic reality. Since CPH:DOX* is a film festival dedicated to documentary
filmmaking, Everyday is also primarily a project encouraging and reaching out for documentary
filmmaking but is of course not exclusively restrained to this genre. Of course I have always been
keen on documentary filmmaking and that is also why I wanted to work with this filmic genre as
well as for an organization which was thoroughly promoting it.

As a digital opened space, Everyday is primarily represented by its own website but also
exists in the virtual world through social medias like Instagram and Facebook. In addition to being
an online platform willing to help people reconnecting with realistic and authentic recorded
realities, Everyday also has the ambition to gather people together both in the digital and physical
space. Everyday redaction team organizes open editorial workshops during which anybody is
welcomed and pleased to show materials (clips of an ongoing project, previous video works, or
maybe only thoughts about a new project). At least once a week, amateur video-makers and

1. https://www.everydayproject.dk/page/about -under the section “About Everyday”.


Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

professionals constituting what we call “Everyday community” have a chance to share their projects
and experiences as well as to reflect upon another's work so this latter can get feedbacks and
updates during the creative process. Moreover the community can also interact online through a
public Facebook group called Everyday Community. This group has been created in order to
maintain relations between users and also to enhance communication between all of them. In fact,
Everyday has always been trying to connect people together around video-making and to follow up
on their activity since the former ambition of this project is to create a community on a long-term
basis which will be able to grow and develop itself through and thanks to its own resources – so this
community can stand in opposition to mainstream, biased medias.

In regards to organizational theories and with a particular focus put on the workplace
structure and its relation with more broad cultural factors, I will try to highlight the important
factors and working conditions I have evolved in and will alongside propose a personal account of
my own work experience.
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

Since Everyday has been created by and developed under CPH:DOX*, it is an important
step to first get an insight into CPH:DOX* organization. CPH:DOX* is now a huge film festival
which takes place every year in Copenhagen and who gathers professionals and film amateurs from
all over the world. Indeed, it was already in 2015 the third largest documentary film festival in the
world (ranking from the same year's edition). As a film festival, CPH:DOX*'s former mission is to
promote and bring to different audiences various documentary films. Nonetheless this danish
festival is also willing to encourage the documentary film production -by recognized filmmakers as
well as new talents-, it is also interested in general in audiovisual products, media, art performances
and any kind of manifestation that awakes creativity amongst people in order to serve hope for a
better world. As it is claimed on their website, “CPH:DOX* wants to be the best film festival in and
for the world” and “insist on freeing the transformative potential of art and documentary films, that
is the potential to have a direct impact on the social context”. 2

Since its year of creation in 2003, CPH:DOX* has grown and has developed several
initiatives to enhance its impact onto wider audiences and fulfill this mission to empower people's
stories and change the world. From being a simple film festival based in Copenhagen, it has now
become a festival reaching out people and schools throughout the entire country, organizing musical
events in addition to film screenings, presenting experts' debates about current issues concerning
medias, and so on. CPH:DOX* counts now almost 15 departments in its organization, whom are
most likely divided depending on their mission and domain-based impact. For instance, the Youth
and Child department will have as first goal to reach out young film enthusiasts in schools in order
to on one hand expose them to the documentary genre and on the other hand encourage and find
talents of and for tomorrow. Another department, the Program department would be responsible for
finding new materials to be shown during the festival, the Graphic department would primarily be
focused on producing visuals and graphic material for promoting the festival, the Guest department
would contact the professionals invited to and for the festival and organize their stay, and so on.
Therefore each department has its own mission and function dedicated to the festival production,
development, distribution, and exploitation. However, all these departments remains slightly
dependent in the sense that they all serve the same goal and often need to interact with each other to
efficiently achieve this latter. The Youth and Child department would for instance call for the
Graphic department's knowledge, skills and techniques if it is needed to produce an important visual
to promote one of their initiatives or project. Different departments can thus collaborate together in

2. https://cphdox.dk/en/about-cphdox/about-us/
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

order to make the best of what the entire organization can accomplish. By considering what Alain
Desreumaux labels as “the strategy/structure logic”, this type of organization can be associated to a
“dynamic network structure” within which all department's resources (knowledge, techniques,
skills, …) are vertically shared so that the entire organization can benefit from it. In his paper
“Nouvelles formes d'organisation et évolution de l'entreprise”, he points out that this type of
organizational design can allow a structure to generate more accurate products and efficient
production methods and process (since it is primarily goal-oriented), since it gathers a large and
diverse array of knowledge but also implies issues in communication between the different entities.
This dynamic network structure however, might be put into troubles sometimes by CPH:DOX*
management structure. This latter could be assimilated to a regular bureaucratic structured system to
paraphrase Max Weber and its famous work on Power and Bureaucracy. Indeed such hierarchical
organization as CPH:DOX* features the head and founder of the festival at the top of the structure,
which relies on head of departments who themselves relies on employees. It is important to note
that most of the employees (at the exception of each head of department and high positions) are
interns and therefore the hierarchy within each departments remains really narrow. In the terms used
by Mary Hatch & Ann Cunliffe in the article “Organizational Social Structure” (2006), CPH:DOX*
organizational structure is similar to a flat structure, in which each department would have a
director supervising all the others employees. Therefore all the departments would function upon a
3 or 4 layered structure fragmented as follow:

Festival General Director


→ Head of Department → (possibly 'Project leader' or 'Department Manager')
→ Employees/interns.

The internal structure of each department therefore is supposed to confere to interns and employees
a great freedom within the development of their work but was always bypass by the great authority
of the festival director. Numerous times, I had to wait for an approval so that I can use CPH:DOX*
logo for a video, or EVERYDAY visuals to promote a project. But Everyday was one of the freest
and more independent department of CPH:DOX*, especially because its role was not restricted to
the festival itself. In contrast to the other departments which are dedicated to the festival's
production and therefore only into play before and during the festival, Everyday has an ongoing
mission and interns and employees of this department are working all year long. Its own structure
and management can be compared to an organic structure, still to quote Mary Hatch and Ann
Cunliffe dichotomy of structural designs. Our department was based on lateral internal and external
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

communication with mostly horizontal integration based on very low formalization and very few
close supervision (each intern was free to work as they wanted and could ask for advice or
supervision just when they felt the need) as well as featuring a high internal decentralization (not
external because of the required approval of the director).

The difference of organizational forms within CPH:DOX* and our own department was
probably mostly due to the fact that our work at Everyday was more creative than for the rest of the
festival's department. On my opinion it was not a problem but rather a necessity to have a less
authoritarian and regulated functiuning in order to be creatively productive.
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

From the every beginning of the internship, the head of the department and the project
leader defined for all interns a list of different tasks and activities that each of the interns could take
part in. General tasks for the entire department were to run the website by producing content,
curating the front page, developing 'Fokus' (that is to say series of videos relating to the same topic),
as well as improving the website's interactivity so the users experience can be enhance. Moreover,
we all had the mission to think about how to promote Everyday throughout social networks, press,
and medias so that it becomes more and more famous. One of the main mission was of course to run
workshops, to improve teaching methods and to develop partnership with other institutions
(schools, universities, associations, …) so Everyday primary goal could be completed: giving power
to the people through filmmaking. I have personally been the most implicated in two different tasks,
reaching out audiences and running workshop.

Amongst all my co-interns, half of them were foreigners and therefore we all promptly felt
the need to think about how to reach out a more international community. As a first apporach to
tackle with this problem, we all decided since the very first days to individually explore Everyday's
website. Through this approach, we could afterwards have a real idea on how Everyday's users'
experience could be defined and therefore we could all identify different issues related to the
website's interactivity, understanding, functionalities, and so on. Since our goal was to make the
website accessible to a non danish speaker audience, we of course considered that the language
would be a problem. In fact, most of the videos with dialogues displayed on the website were in
danish, and it clearly became one of our first and main mission to subtitles those videos. By doing
so, we actually anticipated what would be one of our future task. Indeed for the first time this year,
Everyday department took entirely part in the festival edition by organizing its own events and
building up the concept of the Blue Room – a room located at the festival head quarters, Kunsthal
Charlottenborg, which would confers space for reflections relating to specific films and issues
through talks with directors, panel debate, interactive activities, …-. A bit before the festival, we
have been asked to keep on subtitling videos, in addition to translate the website in english. We thus
have anticipated so market-based demands since the festival itself (that is to say our head superior)
was willing to open itself to a new market. We made sure that all the international guests taking part
in the festival could have an easier access to our website, and a better understanding of what
Everyday is doing throughout the year.

With one of my co-intern we also tried to develop new initiatives to reach out foreigner
video-makers so that some new content could be easily accessible for non danish-speakers. The first
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

issue that we encountered with my colleague that was although CPH:DOX* is the third biggest
documentary film festival in the world, it is still a documentary film festival and therefore it is not
the most famous institution in the world. It appeared to be very difficult to find amateurs artists
strongly interested in filmmaking and who would spend time publishing videos on a danish website
that they have never heard of, although labelled under the brand CPH:DOX*. After a few
brainstorming together, we found out that a solution to tackle this lack of interest and thus audience
would be to actually reach out people living in Denmark but who have another view of their world
and society than danish people. Then both together we started a series of videos which deals with
foreigners living in Denmark. We called this Fokus: “Hjemme I Danmark” 3. This idea actually grew
out from our own will to talk about cultural adaptation, social integration and so on, but it also
became a polemical topic since at the same time a controversy started following some statements
that the Danish Parliament have made in relation to such questions like what it is to be (really)
danish. This 'Fokus' therefore had a great success and we developed it afterwards into different
events (panel debate, artistic performance, film screenings, and so on) taking place in the Blue
Room during the festival.

At the same time and throughout these six months, I have joined another colleague on an
initiative she started even before I started to work at Everyday. As part of the many workshops that
this department developed, my colleague and I have created a new one in collaboration with the
Trampoline House, a community center for refugees and asylum seekers in Denmark. Since
Everyday has the ambition to empower people through and thanks to video-making, my colleague
wanted to give a fresh turn to this mission by reaching out not only youths and schools but also
adults whom presence in the medias is clearly restrained. Together we started this partnership
between Everyday and the Trampoline House in order to give voice to some refugees and asylum
seekers (especially because there is a huge lack of fair representation of this community in the
mainstream medias). Through this workshop we intended to teach basic filmmaking skills, such as
storytelling, filming, editing. We made clear between us as well as for the potential participants that
the aim of this workshop was not primarily to talk about one's life as a refugee in Denmark, but
rather to learn how to use filmic tools to create powerful stories and so to reach out the world with
one's personal view – to remind Everyday project's guideline. This task was on my opinion one of
the most difficult. First of all, we had to integrate this community and take part into it in order to be
accepted as actual friends and partisans, instead of simple privileged people willing to make a good
action. That was really difficult to get people interested in us, more than in our workshop, but

3. https://www.everydayproject.dk/hjemme-i-danmark?p=1
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

luckily our direct supervisor knew already a previous user of the house who have had few
experiences with filmmaking. Thanks to him and its connections and friends within the house's
community, it became easier for my colleague and I to promote our new workshop, and also to get
to know this new target group that we would be about to approach. This help allowed us even
before to start the workshop to think and re-think our communication strategies as well as the
structure of the workshop. Our rough plan was to start by a theoretical approach of storytelling
practices and techniques, to follow up on basic film-making techniques with simple devices (how to
properly film with a smartphone, considering light, sound, and so on), to finally end up training
each participant to use editing programs. We both quickly figured out that the workshops'
participants were not the same than in other workshops we were used to with Everyday. Indeed,
while former Everyday workshops were made for young people who definitely knows how to use
smartphones and have a regular use of social medias, we had to adapt our approach to another king
of group, older people (from 28 to 45 years old approximately), who barely how to use computers
and haven't been raised with all our modern technologies. So instead of drawing up an approach
from the theoretical to the practical, we decided to arrange practical activities (participants would
for instance have to film a short scene following a constraint – e.g. 2 minutes scene without
dialogue -) upon which we would all reflect afterwards. We basically used the same form than the
weekly open editorial meetings at the office. Each week participants would have a task to
accomplish that would help them understand how -theoretically- video-making can be understood
and approached.
Our former aim was also to have each participant working on a personal project. We wanted
each and every one of them to focus on a personal story they would like to tell through video. As
the workshop started, it was difficult for them to feel enough confident to step into a big individual
project and it was also not very easy for us to push them towards this goal. We realized that our
workshop was not only a place where they could learn something, but rather a moment during
which they could share something. Upon this thoughts, we decided to change our goal and to
transform personal projects into a collective one. One of the participant was currently trying to open
a bike shop which would train and employ refugees and asylum seekers to fix bikes, so they can
become bike mechanics in Denmark (especially for those without professional experience, or
invalid diplomas). So we all agreed on a new collaborative project which would imply our three
institutions: Everyday, the Trampoline House, and Bikes Breaking Borders. Thus, with the
workshops participants we used all the knowledge they have acquired throughout the past months to
produce a short movie, a kind of trailer, to promote this bike shop – and therefore succeeded to get
refugees and asylum seekers working together on a project made to help refugees and asylum
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

seekers.
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

As I can now reflect upon my personal experience through this internship, I would like to
points out one obvious factor which seemed inherent one first issue I could have encountered: the
language. While studying and working in a foreign country, it was obvious that the language barrier
would be a problem. When starting my internship I was happily surprised to see that we were
mostly foreigners, interns coming from Spain, Romania, U.S.A., etc. This was the case not only
within Everyday department but also in all the other departments. Therefore the staff was so diverse
in terms of cultural and social background, education, and so on. The problem was that although a
lot of interns were foreigners, and so non danish speakers, a lot of this organization was run and
ruled by danish native speakers. My direct superiors and the festival founder were all
communicating in danish, even in the office and a lot of official were made only in danish. The
omnipresence of this hierarchical authority and their power made sometimes difficult for us to
really take part in some activities since we could not fully understand what could happen or felt
welcomed. Especially when Everyday team has been asked to develop an english version of the
website, or when we were willing to reach a more itnernational audience before the festival, we
basically had to deal with this gap between the directors' demands and their actual behaviour.
Nonetheless, we succeeded to cope with this issue thanks to the other danish interns who were more
than helpful when it came to translate a document or a conversation.
Another factor influencing my personal experience was another cultural factor. It was
difficult at the beginning to get an actual idea of what each one's role would be in this internship.
On my opinion we were all really free to decide what to do or not (some others foreign interns
agreed on that point at the beginning) and for some of us who were just experiencing one of their
first job in media institutions, it was really disturbing. I would say that the lack of leadership
confused us, since we were coming from more patriarchal and/or bureaucratic societies. Our head of
department, since he was implied in many other projects for and besides Everyday, was not present
at the office for the entire week, and our project leader although very skilled and professional
sometimes had to wait for its superiors approval before to start and/or keep on working on new
projects and initiatives. In the chapter “Culture and organization design: strategy, structure and
organization design” included in “Culture and Organization Theory” (2009), Richard M. Steers,
Luciara Nardon, and Carlos Sanchez-Runde classify different categories of management depending
on the country. They distinguish three different levels of leadership (from the highest to the lowest)
and draws up from these categories different cultural and social causes. As they argue,
“Scandinavian countries make wide use of participative leadership approaches, again following
from their somewhat more egalitarian culture”. It is true that even outside the working milieu
Scandinavian countries are known for their hierarchical dichotomy to be narrowed down by the idea
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

that everybody is equal. So as a student and employee coming from a french society and raised
within this culture4, I had to sep back to understand how this lack of leadership could actually be an
asset for me. It was a real obstacle for me because I thought I was just loosing time by not knowing
what I should do and especially what I wanted to do, but taking part into decision-making process
and having a firm control on my own experience actually gave me the impression to have more
power and possibilities. It relates to the point that Richard M. Steers, Luciara Nardon, and Carlos
Sanchez-Runde are making clear through a theoretical approach of organization decision-making:
collaborative decision-making can actually increased employee participation and involvment
(Figure 4.9 – p.108). I would also add that it seems that organic structure featurung a low
hierarchical authority seems to be better for creative industries since they increase individuals'
power and willingness and therefore can enhance creativity, problem-solving strategies, and so on.

4. Through a quantitative study amongst different country (p.74), they found out that 53 % of
managers in France agree with the statement “managers must have the answers to most questions
asked by subordinates” whereas only 10% of managers in Sweden would also agree. Sweden is also
reported as the country with the highest result for “managers' willingness to delegate authority”.
Internship Report Halitim Sawsan

Literature list:

Bhagat, R., & Steers, R. (Eds.). (2009). “Culture and Organization Theory” IN Cambridge
Handbook of Culture, Organizations, and Work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (pgs:
295)

Hatch, M., & Cunliffe, Ann L. (2006). “Organizational Social Structure” IN Organization theory,
modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives (2.nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press (pgs:
47,5)

Desreumaux, A. (2015). “Nouvelles formes d'organisation et évolution de l'entreprise”. Revue


Française De Gestion, (253), 139-172. (pgs: 42)

Weber, M., Gerth, Hans Heinrich, & Mills, C. Wright, Charles Wright. (2009). “Bureaucracy” IN
From Max Weber, essays in sociology (Routledge sociology classics). Milton Park, Abingdon,
Oxon New York: Routledge, 197-244 (pgs: 55,5)

Total standard pages: 440