Pooja Kapahi, Restless Development’s Communications Coordinator in New Delhi, India, has been using her mobile phone to tell powerful stories of change.
My earlier experiences of trying to capture community activities with my camera has been a disaster: children love running in front of your camera and asking for a picture while the community adults mostly rejected being filmed. Even during the interviews, many people are uncomfortable facing a camera and the true essence of their stories are not captured.
Capturing the lives of young women working for Restless Development in unauthorised settlements located at New Delhi was, however, a privilege and pleasure.
I worked with three young women living in the Sanjay Camp, a re-settlement colony in New Delhi. These women are taking part in the Disha Project, a Restless Development project training 5,000 young women from places such as the Sanjay Camp on economic empowerment. They are known as ‘Skill Sakhis’ (peer educators) and have been trained to deliver workshops to their peeps on employment skills and women’s rights. I wanted to make a film about their experiences.
This time around, I was not handling heavy camera equipment but rather just my cell phone. I enjoyed having minimal equipment and was able to capture the community, its people and their daily lives in a hassle-free way. As I was walking through the narrow lanes in the community, none of them objected. They were not bothered by a girl carrying her phone around, nor did they object to speak in front of a phone camera. Even the interviews of the Skill Sakhis went by without too many re-takes. The young women were not too shy to speak openly in front of a cell phone as opposed to a camera.
Have you ever heard of people being phone shy? Of course not. This is the generation of selfies and so many of us love capturing our daily lives on our phones. Shooting the film took just two days, and just one producer, camera women, and interviewer (me!). I was free to walk around in the community and capture the true living conditions without being treated like an ‘outsider’.
Mobile Journalism (MOJO) gives power to a young person to document what they want to say, in their own comfortable surroundings. Can you imagine 1.8 billion young people documenting the challenges and conditions of their communities through mobile journalism? It will surely change the course of how we look at video documentation, reaching a wider audience and ensuring films are authentic.
A MOJO kit includes: (a total package would cost around 300-500 USD although you can of course get cheaper or more expensive kits)
Phone jack (attaches the phone to the tripod)
Clip on microphone
Headphones (the ones you use for you phone are fine)
A mic extension cable (to give you distance from the interviewee)
A small list of equipment means it’s so much quicker and simpler than other forms of film-making to get involved the story you’re trying to capture.
The videos captured by a cell phone cannot be made into high resolution motion pictures, but mobile journalism is a cheaper, easier and faster way of capturing stories.
These are the video stories we need from the remote corners of our countries to build the pressure on government, public sector, international community and civil society, but also to show the realities of how projects such as Disha can make an impact on people’s lives.