Elektra Kotsoni is VICE’s Head of Content for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She's been at VICE for seven years, producing and hosting films on migration and social unrest in Greece while building the company’s EMEA editorial operation from the ground up. She most recently headed the launch of VICE Arabia.
In the winter of 2014, VICE News sent me to Athens, Greece – my home city – to report on rioting there. The violence was put down to a couple of things; firstly, it was the one-year anniversary of the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by members of the far-right Golden Dawn party. Another factor were the austerity measures that had annihilated the Greek economy.
As is usual, the operation involved the important efforts of multiple VICE offices working in different territories. I had been sent from the London office but we tend to use local producers and shooters to get the story. One of the advantages of choosing me was that I could speak English and Greek fluently – I could conduct interviews in a riot situation without the need for a translator, understand what was being said and relay the information to camera in a quick and articulate way.
The Greek office helped us when our cameraman was beaten up by police
I went to a few demonstrations and we made some of our contacts that way – a couple of the people we met on the ground actually helped us to finish the film, contributing to the production process. We also had sit-down interviews with key sources that had been lined up by the local VICE Greece office in advance – this gave us access to leaders of the anarchist movement and local political figures, who we could talk to away from the chaos of the protests.
The Greek office also provided physical production resources – such as the producer and the camera equipment – and they helped sort things when our shooter was beaten up by the police, coming to the hospital with us to get medical treatment. If I hadn’t had local knowledge from growing up in Greece, the task of keeping us safe and locating the hospital would also have fallen to the VICE team in Athens.
They lined up interviews with key sources in advance
Once everything had been shot, the Greek office sent the files and all the rushes over to London to be edited into the final package, which was then passed on to the New York office for feedback and approval before it was uploaded to the international VICE News YouTube channel. From there, any of the 30-plus VICE territories was free to pick up the video and run it on their geo-targeted site. The circumstances and working dynamic change to suit each production but this is a good example of a few different offices working together to bring an important story to public attention.