Mobile filmmaking can be a great tool for African storytellers. This is especially beneficial for storytellers who don’t have access to a great budget or expensive filming equipment. Smartphones are readily available across the globe, and there are more affordable phones with HD cameras.
With this much accessibility, filmmakers and journalists can use their phones to capture stories that can be edited to cinema quality. Many affordable and free apps also help with editing, visual effects, and graphics. Many content creators also use their cell phones rather than expensive camera equipment.
How can mobile filmmaking grow in Africa?
Africa is a location prime for filmmaking. 64% of Africans have smartphones. It’s estimated that by 2025, 400 million people will own smartphones in Africa. As a result, many users watch content on their phones. Eastern Africa also has the second-highest production of films in Africa, just behind West Africa. Kenya has many distributors, including MultiChoice, StarTimes, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Showmax, and Viusasa. There is excellent access to an English-speaking pan-African market.
This makes it prime for mobile filmmaking opportunities. In addition, the industry can also grow because 24 countries have a film commission. Governments have also historically partnered with NGOs to help boost filmmaking. Increased digitisation makes it easier to make films, from giant blockbusters to mobile documentary films, such as South Africa’s High Fantasy (2018).
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Benefits of mobile filmmaking
Using mobile phones disrupts the traditional chain of the film industry. It also reduces instances of gatekeeping. Educating people on how to film with cell phones is a lot easier than in traditional film schools. E-learning platforms, YouTube, and even cell phone companies provide free or affordable classes that show budding directors how to shoot the best footage.
Social media platforms are great for publishing short mobile films. It also enables creators to earn directly from their content. Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook enable users to publish longer videos. Facebook enables accounts with more than 10,000 followers to earn ad revenue. Youtube also enables Black creators on their platform to apply for grants to enable their filmmaking.
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Mobile phones are also compact, affordable, and hassle-free. You may need a microphone to capture sounds better, but they’re much less cumbersome than video cameras. Any additional equipment you may need, such as a tripod, ring light, or hand-held crane, is also cheaper than a camera.
Limitations of mobile filmmaking
Cell phones overheat quickly when they’re being used a lot. Some brands even shut down when the battery gets too hot. Charging the phone while it’s shooting may also damage the phone. If you are shooting extended footage, mobile filmmaking may require more than one phone. If you’re recording in the sun, you may need ice packs to keep the phone cool during breaks.
Some phones may not shoot the best-quality footage. When you look at it on the phone, it looks HD. But when it’s transferred to a PC for editing, the footage may have poor resolution. As a result, this can limit how you release the film. It may also mean reshoots or purchasing expensive apps to sharpen the footage.
In addition, some phone cameras have too many automated phone settings. The phone can quickly lose focus while filming. It can also change the exposure and leave you with too bright content.
Phones have limited shooting capacity. Many smartphones have an 8-bit film rate which limits how many edits you can make. They also have limited storage space. You may need to buy a memory card with lots of space because video requires a lot.
Mobile filmmaking is budget friendly and perfect for people shooting short films or trying to break into the industry. The market is ripe for mobile storytelling and provides great room to learn.
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