Shoot-n-Share: a mobile phone documentary

Shoot-n- Share is a documentary made by two young students at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, Lieke van Pruijssen and Bieke Versloot. It is a film about the relation five inhabitants of Rotterdam have with their mobile phone. More specifically: how they use the camera on their mobile phone. The film was shown a while ago at a filmfestival in Groningen, and in Rotterdam April 28, 2008.

The film is a mixture of documentary following a number of ‘Rotterdammers’ an their mobile cam use as well and interviewing the, as well as a showcase of the mobile phone movies and photographs itself that are made by them. This is done quite ingeniously, by blending the two together in such a way that you get a good view both from the ‘real life’ perspective and the ‘virtual media-perspective.

So what kind of people are portrayed in the film? The first are Thom and Osama, two young guys (both 16) who film their daily movements in the city, go to weird places and shoot themselves fooling around a bit, and upload their material to Youtube. See the following Youtube accounts: Osama (osama015); Thom (jump266) ; and together they operate under the nick osamathom1991.


Then there is a young mother Annemarie (24 years old) and her daughter. The mother makes little clips of for instance her daughter and her singing and dancing together, and shares these with friends and family online.


There is Hans, a guy of about 30 years old who mainly takes photos of things he sees in the city in an artistic fashion.


And finally an older man, Cor Been, age 75, who has filmed the entire process of the construction of his new apartment building to which he is moving.


There are a couple of things I found really interesting about this film:

Different age, different use
First of all, the film shows how people from different ages do very different things with their mobile phone camera. Osama and Tom went for the kicks and sought out the ‘dangerous’ and exiting urban places they normally wouldn’t go or weren’t suppose to be. The young mother did it in a very social way to share her life with her daughter with other; the 30 year old guy made all kinds of photographs of the city in a very aesthetic way; the old man used film to get accustomed to his new habitat, as a kind of narrative medium to incorporate the new into his life.

Mobile film as an emerging genre
What kind of new pictorial language is emerging through the use of the mobile phone for photo and film? It is a radical first person perspective; a 3D view of the world, the camera does not only pan from left to right but also up and down (one’s feet!); movement while shooting instead of stills; no cuts; position of the filmer in his own film; enactment in front of camera: it’s is not acting as if it is real but made absolutely clear that it is acting in full awareness of the presence of a camera.

Experience of multiple places at the same time (moving in hybrid space)
The two young guys were making a film while sneaking into a building (hotel?) they clearly weren’t supposed to be. While prowling through the corridors and pushing elevator buttons in a seemingly spontaneous way, all of a sudden one of them yelled: “This is certainly going to be on Youtube!”. This seems to indicate that these kids are adding an extra dimension to their physical world, namely concurrently imagining a digital world. They interweave their here and now experience of what they are doing in physical space with an added dimension of presenting it later elsewhere on a digital platform.

Social aspects of sharing: niche vs. platform
The young mother was sharing films and photos of her and her daughter with friends via online platforms (Youtube, Hyves). There is something very social about creating content. A new sociality? Or sharing as age-old ritual (gifting)? Only within small circle? But interestingly she chooses a platform that is accesible to everyone. This raises questions about how people want to express themselves, either to small niches vs. sharing broadly.

Experiencing city space through the mobile phone camera
Filming the city while being on the move adds an extra reflexive dimension to this mobility. First it adds another lense in front of you, a layer of mediatrion in a (new) visual movie language. And second it enables you to look back almost immediately on what you have just experienced and how you have captured this. The experience of a city may change through this additional reflexive layer. It enables you to distrance yourself from your own immediate experience by viewing it again through the eyes of a bystander, like an being an audience to your own captured experience.


(thanks Bieke for the pictures, additional info, and small corrections!)

3 Replies to “Shoot-n-Share: a mobile phone documentary

  1. Thanks. To my knowledge unfortunately this film isn’t published online yet, although the makers do have plans. I’ll notify you when they do.

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