EWC x V&A Friday Lates by Emma Barnaby

On Friday 30th June we were lucky enough to take over the unbelievably beautiful National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum for their monthly Friday Late, showcasing smartphone film shorts on the theme of “Documenting and Driving Social Change” – the programme of films can be found here.


Amidst the bustle of hundreds of people descending on the colossal venue to experience the Boiler Room live stream of Kokoroko, hear words from James Massiah, Bridget Minamore, Brother Portrait and more, Eye Want Change hosted a panel with filmmaker Laura Kirwan-Ashman and filmmaker/journalist Mari Shibata.

Chatting about the possibilities of lo-fi and low-budget filmmaking to support marginalized voices, Laura and Mari discussed their own experiences of using smartphones in their work. Online community building through visual media has had a clear impact, mentioned Laura, who also founded the collective and directs the hilarious DIY web-series Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah

Photo credit: Eye Want Change


Needless to say, we here at Eye Want Change have always been big advocates of phones and the power they hold. We were inspired by the incredible significance of phones during the Arab Spring, which were used to capture events as they unfolded and later to spread information using social media. This began a wave of what is now know as ‘citizen journalism’, real people capturing real events, shirking government media control and the bias of big media companies and news outlets. Five years on, and the world is still in crisis. People continue to flee war, making perilous journeys and many have continued to use phones to document these journeys.

In the final 2 months of the ‘Jungle’, I was there working for Calais Kitchens, an organisation providing dry food parcels to every single resident of the camp. The soundtrack of the jungle, wherever you went, was the Facebook and Whatsapp dial up tone. Everywhere phones were making connections across the world, echoing the journeys made by the residents. Calls were being made to Sudan, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Syria. Often, by the time many had reached the ‘Jungle’, people had spent the last of their money on the long journey from their homes.

In February, James Pearce set up a group to provide phone credit to refugees and displaced people. This grassroots organisation has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds that have allowed refugees around the world to make contact with family and with friends, to retain connections with the homes they have left behind and to maintain new ones with the friends and families they have made. It has also been confirmed that a young teenage boy named Ahmed, 7,  saved himself and fourteen others with phone credit provided by the group, when stuck in a lorry losing oxygen.

Despite my work for Eye Want Change, I had always found the prevalence of smartphones in daily life a nuisance. Often, sat around with friends, I would feel disheartened. There we were, with company, all staring down at our phones. But often in the jungle, conversations were centred around phones. When there was a language barrier, we would share pictures of our respective homes and family, share favourite songs on Youtube. It became apparent that something as simple as an internet connection could provide comfort, connection and at times, a lifeline.


Christmas is a time when many of us make journeys, take planes and buses to be with those we love. Since for so many, Christmas is no longer a time for religious celebration, it has become an occasion to celebrate family and friends. Never let it be underestimated what an incredible luxury this is. At this time, there are hundreds of thousands of people not only displaced from their homes but separated by sea and land from those they love.

The Facebook group ‘Phone credit for refugees and displaced people’ is growing daily, and with it a need for support. To continue the work that they do they desperately need funds. If you too want to celebrate connection this Christmas, please consider donating what you can. Connection, family and friendship are powerful and invaluable. From one mobile phone organisation to another, we love you and we think you do fantastic work.

Text: Christa Stengard-Green


 We caught up with Moyin Saka to talk about her experience of filmmaking and the competition. Shot on a webcam, her powerful film 'Too Wide' about the daily routine of a trans person of colour explores the urgent issue of transphobia with a refreshing authenticity. In Saka's own words, the film aims 'to focus and centre a narrative that is never told, yet clearly needs to be, whilst ensuring it is done in a way authentic and true to the lived experience.'   

Was this the first film that you made? Was it scary to shoot for the first time?

Moyin Saka: Yes, this was the first film I’d ever made but it wasn’t scary at all, I think the nature of the competition took away any possibility of fear, and also the fact that I was shooting in my own house and with one of my best friends made the experience all the more stress-free.   

 If so, how is this competition beneficial to first time filmmakers?

Moyin Saka: Despite it not being scary for me, I think a beneficial factor of the competition for first timers is the freedom. When you’re restricted to using very basic equipment it really puts you at a creative advantage, it requires you to think beyond the parameters of the norms of let’s say ‘conventional’ filmmaking. You really are forced to delve into more experimental modes of story-telling and depicting and I think that’s really incredible if you’re made to do that at such an early point in your film-making career.

Another great factor is that it’s really accessible, you know usually when you envision ‘filmmaking’ we think of all this elaborate equipment and the perplexing software that comes alongside it and I think these images can be quite daunting initially, especially for a first timer. But with EWC it’s not like that at all because you’re using the equipment that you use every day, you know, your laptop, your phone, your tablet or whatever you have, you’re used to them, you’re familiar with them – the familiarity is so comforting and it really does help and ease you whilst you’re creating.

How did you come up with the concept?

Moyin Saka: The concept was birthed quite naturally because it was very much a reflection of Travis’s reality, and a part of their reality I was witnessing whilst living with them – In the mornings, Travis would always come into my room after they had gotten ready so they could inspect their outfit in my big mirror, and from my bed I’d just watch them as they gradually fell in love with every aspect of their look, from their clothes to their eye-shadow to their shoes, everything. I’d watch them take pictures of themselves in this comfort and happiness and then I’d watch them leave the house in that same comfort and happiness. And then a few minutes later I’d hear the door slam, I’d hear their footsteps pounding up the stairs and into their room and I knew they’d be going to change their outfit again, all because some transphobic imbecile outside had to have their say or way.

Were you surprised to win?

Moyin Saka: Yeah I genuinely was surprised, there was one other film which I was pretty convinced had the prize so when I heard ‘Too Wide’ being called out it was a pleasant surprise.

Will you continue to make films?

Moyin Saka: Oh yeah, 100%. I have so many ideas for projects that I really want to get started as soon as possible, but at the same time I’m also trying to navigate my way through my 3rd year so I’ll probably deal with that first.

What changes would you like to see in the film world and the creative industries more general?

Moyin Saka: I could answer this question forever, I think there are so many ways in which the creative industries are failing, but the changes I’d most like to see deal with issues of space and authenticity - for example, who is getting their stories told? Who is being used to tell these stories? How are these stories being told? Who really is benefiting from these stories being told? A lot of the time when we see marginalized voices being depicted on screen, or when we hear silenced narratives being told, it’s not real, or it’s been manipulated in a way that distorts the true reality of it.

Another change I’d like to see is a dismantling of this sort of elitist set-up that currently exists within the creative industries - I think there should be more of a conscious and genuine effort to be making these industry spaces more accessible. 

Please note that our next competition will open soon!
Entry requirements are simple: Submit a short mobile movie on an issue that you care about.
 More details to follow. 

A Potted History of the Smartphone in Film by Emma Barnaby

It may not come as a surprise that the history of the smartphone filmmaking is rather short. Here’s our attempt at a potted history that we hope will leave you feeling inspired!

Phones with inbuilt cameras came out around the year 2001, and we’ve all been using our phones to capture selfies and our dogs since we were the proud owners of Motorola Razors. But it wasn’t until 2011 that director Hooman Khalili claimed to have made the first film shot entirely on a smartphone.

Olive came out just in time for the Oscars. Unfortunately it didn’t make the cut, but did get a theatrical release; No mean feat for a smartphone film made in 2011. Olive was made on a budget of around $400,000 and was filmed on a Nokia N8 with a homemade 35-millimeter attachment. Though this might not have been the runaway success that Khalili hoped it would, Olive seems to have got the smartphone-film ball rolling.

That same year, critically acclaimed director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, The Vengeance Trillogy) joined the still small family of smartphone filmmakers when he made the short Night Fishing; a 30-minute creepy and atmospheric fantasy horror about one mans unexpected catch. The film went on to win the Golden Bear for the Best Short Film at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival.

A personal favourite of mine is the lesser known, Les Ongles (The Nails), made by director Clement Deneux for the 2011 Disposable Film Festival. The generally groan-inducing phrase ‘found footage’ is here a cause for celebration. Deneux has skilfully pulled off a genuinely horrifying short, using the smartphone to its full advantage. Watch with the lights on and try not to bite your nails!

In the world of documentary, director Peter Snowdon gave a whole new meaning to ‘found footage’, when he pieced together The Uprising. Taking a look at the events that unfolded in front of citizens’ phones during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, The Uprising is ‘a multi-camera, first-person account of that fragile, irreplaceable moment when life ceases to be a prison, and everything becomes possible again.’ Snowdon spent over tow years scouring the Youtube for smartphone footage of the revolution and threading the pieces together to form a feature length documentary. It is both a testament to the bravery of those involved in the revolution, and the power of the smartphone to bring real-life events to global audiences as they unfold.

Shooting ahead to 2015, we all witnessed with delight the buzz around Tangerine. Not only was it a box office smash but it went on to win multiple awards. Both outrageously funny and sincere, Tangerine made us forget the humble equipment on which it was shot as we were drawn in by the unique and compelling narratives and brilliant performances.

So, what does the future of smartphone filmmaking hold?  With the quality and capability of smartphone cameras growing exponentially, we think the smartphone filmmaking only will too. And its relatively short history should not be a deterrent to filmmakers. These are, as it were, unchartered waters and in it we can see nothing but good opportunity! As Chase Jenkins said, “The best camera is the one that's with you,” so what are you waiting for? 

By Christa Standard-Green

OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: EWC @ Loud Tate: i.d by Emma Barnaby

Fancy having your work screened at Tate Britain? Simple, send us your film!

Several events this summer meant that ‘identity’ was a word on everyone’s lips. From the refugee crisis to cultural appropriation, it appears that British society is having a well needed moment of self reflection. And, almost in acknowledgement of this moment, the Tate Collective London decided to host a day event on the theme of identity. To our delight, Eye Want Change has been invited to participate and we are now looking for you to collaborate and contribute to this with us.

During this event Tate Collective London (Tate’s forum for young people aged 15-25 years) curate a vibrant mix of music, artist’s workshops, live performance, film screening, DJs, and debate, all taking inspiration from the Tate Collection. Annnnd, we want your help! 

All you have to do is submit a film, shot on a smartphone, tablet, or webcam, of up to two minutes on the theme of identity, with the chance to be screened at Tate Britain. Eye Want Change and Tate Collective London will be co-curating a selection of the best submissions to be screened throughout the day at one of London's most exciting celebrations of youth culture and creativity. Participants must be aged 15-25.

So, enter! You’ll have a chance to have your work shown alongside performers such as Novelist and award winning rapper Ms Banks.

More details can be found here.


Eye Want Change (EWC) is seeking an enthusiastic and creative graphic designer to join the team this year.

What we do - Eye Want Change is a short film competition that aims to celebrate ideas, creativity and the positive impact that technology can have on reporting. Started by students amidst the cuts to the arts, Eye Want Change hopes to encourage others to think creatively about societal issues that interest them. Our main condition is that films must be shot on a smartphone or tablet, and relate to a social matter. We hope that the smartphone 'restraint' will produce works that place innovation and creativity above access to equipment, large budgets or technical expertise.

The #selfie generation is often given a bad name. We call on new filmmakers to reclaim the mobile phone through an exploration of how it can be used, and consider the ways in which new technologies have the potential to democratise the mainstream media. 

What we can offer you - As a small, young, non-profit, we are unable to offer any paid fees. However, your work will reach wide audiences, including well-known organisations and publications. So far, Eye Want Change has received recognition from the likes of Britdoc, PSFK, MUBI, Time Out, and other, and collaborated with the Tate Britain, the Homeless Film Festival, and Brainchild. Your designs will also be seen by our judges and other principal observers, which include Richard E. Grant, Nick Broomfield, and Charlie Phillips. Moreover, our social media reach grows each day: Facebook posts often reach thousands, and have been shared by contemporary cultural figures. So, if you're looking to expand your portfolio and profile, develop your CV and be part of an exciting new organisation, then we'd love to hear from you. 

Who we're looking for - Someone who is committed and enthusiastic, with a good knowledge of computer software, expertise in web design (or a willingness to learn it) and a genuine passion for social change. You are able to work independently, although must be able to meet strict deadlines and may be asked to work on more than one piece at a time. You must be able to meet with the Creative Director and/or the rest of the team in London on a bi-weekly basis. All of the current committee work on Eye Want Change alongside other commitments and therefor always try to be as accommodating to others' workload as possible. This also highlights the importance we place on a flexible approach when working within a team. 

How to apply - If you think this position is for you please send please send examples of your work (at least 2 but the more the better), a short description of your experience and a small paragraph on why you'd like to be a graphic designer for Eye Want Change to eyewantchange@gmail.com cc. christastengardgreen@gmail.com

We look forward to hearing from you!

Good luck from, 

The EWC Team