In this TEDtalk, Swedish Guerilla Filmmaker Sebastian Lindstrom counteracts the criticism of a traditional film producer who told him, “don’t worry, when your organization grows bigger, you will be able to do things properly!” In Lindstrom’s opinion, no amount of money, equipment, or talent can surpass the final product that disruptive film-making brings about. The film-maker, who has seen the world through the lens of his HD camera, shares his experience of how immersing into a culture precipitates films that tell a more genuine story, which will ultimately have a far greater impact than traditional film-making.
Lindstrom shares the following tips that his team always abides by to gain access to the best footage:
1) Never stay in hotels while on location. Try your best to live with the people that you are filming so that you can get an idea of who they really are.
2) Use public transportation to move around fast on low budgets. Aside from saving money, this is a great way to connect, meet your next translator, hold group meetings, and work while getting from one location to the next. Renting a truck makes a group stand out in a foreign environment and become a target should they break down or get lost.
3) Carry minimal equipment. Lindstrom says “The whole world of filmmaking is becoming more democratized and people can engage in this creative medium with less money and less skill.” HD video cameras look just like photo cameras nowadays, so film teams come across as tourists- which looks much less invasive. This allows you to connect with the people of a small village and avoid confrontation with police and military.
4) Get permission from the people you are working with- and avoid the tedious process of obtaining country and location licenses to film. Giving the people ownership helps the project move forward.
5) Avoid monetary exchange. This is the best way to attract real people (translators, volunteer production assistants, etc.) who want “an exchange in experience, new skills, and frienship.” While professional film-teams may only select the most experienced members they can find, Lindstrom think that having mixed skill levels can “really spice up energy in team dynamics”.
6) Embrace local customs and food. This is a powerful vehicle for connecting with people and “converts you very quickly from an outsider into family.” It’s also important to realize that time is a very western mindset that other cultures don’t understand- breaking free from your watch can be very liberating.
While disruptive film making may not be as convenient or fast as traditional methods, it takes story-telling to a whole new level. The film-makers are no longer a third party looking in; they become a part of the story. Lindstrom concludes his speech by telling the viewers to “embrace the future and stay disruptive!”