These days, it seems, it takes a big budget to make a really good film. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, especially in cases where the story is so compelling, and the acting top-notch. But the rule is that if you want to make audio-visuals which stand a good chance of getting recognition, you may have to put a lot into it. There’s a price to pay for quality. Except your wallet is endowed, you’re unlikely to go very far with filmmaking. Certainly not as a serious, full-time career.
Smartphones can help out, though. And they are helping out big time.
Mobile filmmaking has become increasingly popular in many parts of the world. Every day, thousands of video recordings are made, watched and shared using smartphones. It only takes a mastery of the art of making videos, a taste for a good picture, light and sound quality, and an attention-grabbing storyline to transform regular camera fiddling into something else- a film. This new form of filmmaking has become so popular around the world, that there are now film festivals devoted solely to films shot partly or wholly with mobile phones. The idea of making films with mobile phones hasn’t really caught on yet in Nigeria, but there are nascent flames slowly dancing up, ignited by the passion for film and the simple, yet engaging nature of mobile filmmaking.
There are drawbacks to the use of smartphones for filmmaking. Limited storage space and battery life pose a challenge, and may limit the amount of work that could be put into making a film (of course, making good films requires a great deal of work). In general, mobile phone microphones are not really suitable for filmmaking. Lighting is also a notoriously difficult problem. But these obstacles can be overcome through repeated practice and training courses offered by filmmaking academies such as TreasureWells. Balancing functions can be used to adjust lighting if the phone being used has that capability. Being close to the subject while filming is important, as this will help to limit the interference of irrelevant surround-sound while ensuring that the picture quality is maintained. An external camera can be used to avoid the effects of wind and rapid camera movement on sound quality. Shaking due to the unstable nature of the human hand may also hamper picture quality. In order to deal with this, the camera person should stand with feet apart and elbows planted against their body. Better still, a tripod mount (or a tripod adapter for a mobile phone) can be used.
Perhaps the biggest problem standing in the way of successfully making a film with a mobile phone is the want of a good story. That’s not a technological limitation. It’s a human fault. And the story comes first. After all, films are made to present narratives.
In addition to the phone and a few equipment and hands, there are a number of filmmaking software which should come in handy. Editing and post-production can be done using some of these (such as Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro). Help also seems to be coming in lately from some of the mobile phone producers, such as HTC and Apple with the making of phones with multiple microphones and better light sensors. These improvements will help the mobile filmmaker in no small way.