An antidote to elitism in the film industry, this organisation arms young visionaries with cheap and accessible tools needed to tell their stories
The amount of content that reaches our finger is amazing, inspiring… but also nerve-wracking. Today, everyone is a curator, journalist or a visual documentarian of their lives. But, amidst the cuts and slamming of the arts by the British government, it can seem more intimidating than ever to carve yourself out a place in the creative industries. When 44 per cent of the jobs are taken by the privately educated and the rest seemingly fronted by white men, it can often feel that some voices are being treated as more valuable than others.
Eye Want Change was created as a reaction to this; seeking to create a space where creativity was placed over formal education, access to equipment, large budgets and technical expertise. Inspired by the use of phones in the Arab Spring and films shot entirely or in-part on smartphones, such as Searching for Sugarman and Tangerine, Eye Want Change began to look to citizen journalism and new technology as ways to democratise the mainstream media. We, the "#selfiegeneration", had and still have a desire to harness the potential that these devices can bring to diversifying filmmaking. To help push this, Eye Want Change are running a competition, the requirement for entry is simple. Submit a mobile movie on a social issue you care about: that is it – but you’ve only got four more days. So alongside potentially having your film judged by Head of Documentaries at the Guardian, Charlie Phillips, BAFTA nominated Daisy May Hudson and poet Bridget Minamore, below are even more reasons why you should get involved.
“You can make anything, any camera look beautiful...an iPhone can look gorgeous and really cool. It’s all about how you use it, and if it serves the story. I would say don’t get hung up on tools, just see if it fits the story” – Bérénice Eveno
YOUR #SELFIE CAN BE A RADICAL ACT
Most people think selfies are vain and shallow. But, one of the most beautiful submissions we received as a video shot on a webcam entitled “Born into Blackness”. The filmmaker Samantha Sivapragasam often was just simply facing the screen while the audio of her poetry played. In this moment, it became clear that for women of colour, or other groups who are often kept out of sight of the mainstream media, their decision to take up visual space online was a powerful and important act. She described her idea behind the short as, “a reflection on my experiences of being of black and mixed race in Britain. My blackness has always been put into question by myself and others. Being mixed but having dark skin and kinky hair has put me in situations where others tell me what I am. I am torn between these identities”
These days, flashy kit and editing suites are easier to come by. But, despite what the latest camera branding might proclaim, passionate storytelling moves and engages audiences. This point was actually echoed at Sundance by cinematographer Bérénice Eveno, who said: “You can make anything, any camera look beautiful. Tangerine proved it – an iPhone can look gorgeous and really cool. It’s all about how you use it, and if it serves the story. I would say don’t get hung up on tools, just see if it fits the story.”
This was proved to us our winning film, “Present Tense”, sent to us by a group of film students from Zanzibar. They found out about us via Twitter and sent us a movie shot on iPads that discussed how the colonial legacy of the English language was causing them to fail their exams. Not only did the film create a transatlantic discussion, there was also a wonderful rawness to the film that surpassed anything that a great lens could achieve.
As a group of six young students, we knew how intimidating and inaccessible the media industry could seem; we wanted to create a platform whereby all participants were learning, creating and discussing together. In 2014, we launched Eye Want Change on Facebook and tentatively reached out to some leading figures in the film and creative industries to see if they would be judges. We did this because we wanted our filmmakers voices to feel valuable.
Much to our surprise, people such as actor Richard E Grant, filmmaker Nick Broomfield, academic/writer Emma Dabiri and digital artist Tim Travers Hawkins agreed. A year on, we have gained the support of the Head of Documentaries at the Guardian, Charlie Phillips, BAFTA nominated Daisy May Hudson and poet Bridget Minamore, who are judges for our current competition. Despite their prominence in the media industry, each judge agreed to consider the creativity of the film and to think outside of conventional categorisations. From having spoken to last years participants, we found that the knowledge that their work would be viewed by such an esteemed panel was a great confidence boost and made them feel that they had something valuable to say.
WE WANT TO KEEP SHOWING THAT THE INTERNET IS A GREAT RESOURCE
Another film, created by Kitty Horlick and Beth Armstrong, looked into the drinking habits of students around the United Kingdom. The directors asked their participants to stop drinking for a week, record their progress by filming themselves on phones, tablets or webcams. Due to the reach of the internet, the filmmakers were able to collect data from around the country without travelling anywhere at all and were able to reach out to more people due to social media. To us, this signified a new way of collaborative filmmaking.
YOUNG PEOPLE CAN BE TEACHERS
While we don’t pretend to be experts in the field of mobile moviemaking (we aren’t quite at Tangerine standard yet), we have learnt that young people’s voices should be listened to. Sure, age is valuable in relation to experience but it isn’t the only measure of knowledge especially when it comes to a raw discussion of what young people care about today.
Our competition is open till the 22nd February. Submit your film here and be in with the chance to win £1000