August 28, 2019

How Teenagers In Nigeria Are Making Big Movies With Smartphones

These self taught Nigerian filmmakers are getting noticed for their scifi movies.
The BlackList's Franklin Leonard and JJ Abrams are some of these young filmmakers' biggest fans. 
Using a smartphone with shattered screen, and some green fabric they saved for chromekey
Credit: Pulse

Some of my favorite phrases when it comes to creativity come from Orson Welles and Ansel Adams. Welles is famous for saying "The absence of limitations is the enemy of art," while Adams was known for saying "the best camera is the one you have with you." Great words from two masters of their craft. Then there's "there's no telling how far someone can go when they don't know that they can't." And nothing brings these words to life more than a group of Nigerian teenagers who are making sci-fi movies with their smartphones. And they won't let anything stop them.

We want to do something crazy, we want to do something great, something that has not been done before, and from what has been going on now, we believe quite well that it is going to happen soon enough.” - Godwin Josiah, member of The Critics

Teen Nigerian Filmmakers are self taught with visual effects.
Credit: The Critics

The young teenage boys call themselves "The Critics" and, to date, they've made over 20 short films by saving literal pennies and using it to buy items they need, while scrounging for the rest. The boys saved money for a month just to buy some green fabric, so they could practice learning green screen techniques from watching videos on YouTube. And that's not all that easy either, considering the internet and electricity in their region of the country is often down, leaving them to fill in the blanks by pure experimentation. 

This kind of drive, coupled with a desire to overcome their situation has freed them up to focus on the basics -- telling a compelling story.

Their most recent epic is an ultra low budget post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller called Z: the Beginning. Check it out here:

Looking at their visual effects, it's hard not to be impressed, and their fight choreography is so believable, I'm betting they landed a few punches in the process. Their voiceovers they did themselves to give their films an English soundtrack may not be all that great, yet, but they definitely seem to have a grasp on how to create a sense of tension in a scene. Another film they made is called "The Chase," a film about breaking into a top-secret Nigerian Cloning facility:

Not too shabby for a group of kids who learned how to make movies on YouTube, and then downloaded free software to edit and create some impressive CGI on a cobbled-together beaten up computer.

Their films are getting some attention, too, as Nigerian director Kemi Adetiba has been talking online about the kids, and raised upwards of $6,000 to make the next film with some better equipment. The money has helped the boys buy newer laptops, some lights, and even a new camera. That's going to go a long way to achieving their goal of making the biggest film ever in Nigeria's "Nollywood" film industry. And you can bet they'll probably do it, too. 

Their efforts vent viral on Twitter recently and, with the help of Franklin Leonard and JJ Abrams, Hollywood was able to contact the young filmmakers. Hopefully, soon, their DIY work will pay off in Hollywood.

Self taught visual effects are hard in a country with intermittent internet and electricity.
Self taught visual effects are hard in a country with intermittent internet and electricity. But The Critics are still getting it done.Credit: Gistmania

It makes me want to go out with some friends and make a movie because these guys let no excuses stop them! 

You can follow The Critics progress by subscribing to their YouTube Channel here.      

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1 Comment

This was pretty funny and awesome. I'm Nigerian American, and it's always cool to see Nollywood inspired stuff show up out of nowhere.

August 29, 2019 at 2:09PM

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