Mediation - An Introduction

Written and Directed by Michael Gibson
[A 20 minute video]

The Audience

Mediation - An Introduction is intended for individuals or groups who will benefit from an understanding of mediation. While the focus is on voluntary, interest-based mediation, other types of mediation are discussed.

Who Should Purchase the Video?

The video can be used by Alternate Dispute Resolution practitioners, mediators, counsellors, lawyers, courts, governments, planners and others who provide assistance, advice or counsel to parties involved in disputes, negotiations and litigation. Educators and professionals who train mediators will also find the video very useful to orient and inform students. People interested in mediation will also enjoy the video.

The Video's Form & Content

The 20 minute video is a dramatic story that unfolds with pace, tension, and humour, featuring some of Canada's finest actors including R.H. Thomson, Rosemary Dunsmore and Damir Andrei.  The writer and actors are each recipients of multiple arts awards. In addition, participants in real-life mediated disputes provide compelling personal perspectives on mediation. Commentary from several professional mediators and a judge provides expansion on important points.

Input & Review by Professionals in the Field

All of the professional commentary in the video is provided by mediators, lawyers and judges working in the field. The carefully researched script and video editing have been reviewed by members of the ADR Section of the Canadian Bar Association - Ontario. Special input was provided by Allan Stitt and Kathleen Kelly.

The Story

The video uses as a model the dispute between a land developer (played by Rosemary Dunsmore) and an environmentalist (R.H. Thomson), each seeking to win her or his respective positions by defeating the other in court. At first they reject mediation. Finally, with assistance, they arrive at a resolution of their volatile dispute. In the process we hear how all kinds of conflicts can involve similar behaviour and how a mediator can help sort through the barriers that stand in the way of resolution. A third party's involvement (a municipal politician) illustrates the reality of multi-party conflict. The real-life disputants and mediators in the video include a divorced couple, a real (as opposed to fictionalized) land developer and an environmentalist, a family court judge, and a well-known mediation training specialist.

Experts Say:

"This is an excellent orientation video, well-made and informative. I recommend it to lawyers and mediators. Showing the video to clients involved in any kind of dispute can be a helpful first step toward resolution."
Christine Hart, Former Director, The ADR Centre, Toronto
"I'm very impressed. The production quality obviously is good; the acting is good; it doesn't pull punches. The video is certainly unique, and a useful introductory teaching tool that I'll be able to use."
Rick Weiler, Mediator
"An excellent primer on interest-based mediation, what it is and how it works. Unlike many mediation videos, this one has excellent production values, and combines professional actors in a demonstration along with professional mediators and actual mediation disputants, talking about their experience. I highly recommend this video as an introduction to the idea and concept of mediation. I will certainly use this in my training programs."
Gary T. Furlong, Agree Inc.
"Mediation: An Introduction ...designed to introduce the use of mediation as a technique for the settlement of complex disputes in an entertaining and informative format. Framed by a high conflict environment/development dispute, the tape introduces the concept of interest based mediation, focusing on the goal of assisting parties to identify their own interests in the situation that has given rise to the dispute, seeing the advantages that may result from finding an acceptable solution, and suggesting some of the techniques that may allow such solution to be found, without overselling the process as one that is either always successful or always appropriate. Brief scenes from the mediation of the underlying dispute are interweaved with concise, witty, and informative commentary placing them in the context of the general mediation picture by Allan Stitt, one of the leading commercial / complex case mediators in Eastern Canada. Also interspersed are brief testimonials by former mediation participants, which, unlike many such testimonials, focus solidly on what worked in the process rather than their satisfaction with the process or its results. Mention is made of some of the wide range of disputes that can be resolved by mediation, but the overall purpose is more to give the watcher a sense of the process and, especially, the protections that it offers for its participants. Thus strong emphasis is placed on confidentiality, safety, the nonbinding effect of interim proposals, the fact that access to the courts is not compromised by participation, and the opportunity to explore ideas that would have to be suppressed in an adversary setting for fear of opening doors to an adversary. While there are many useful introductory tapes on mediation, this is one of the most effective, especially in the way it demonstrates the breadth of opportunities that mediation offers and the clarity with which it presents a balanced view of its advantages and disadvantages."
A REVIEW "Mediation - an Introduction" from The Alternative Newsletter - A Resource Newsletter on Dispute Resolution Edited by James B. Boskey, Seton Hall Law School, Newark, NJ