Nigerian Teenagers Are Making Slick Sci Fi Films With Their Smartphones

Some­one should real­ly snap up the rights for a movie about The Crit­ics, a col­lec­tive of self-taught teenage film­mak­ers from north­west­ern Nige­ria.

The boys’ ded­i­ca­tion, ambi­tion, and no-bud­get inven­tive­ness calls to mind oth­er film­mak­ing fanat­ics, from the sequestered, home­schooled broth­ers of The Wolf­pack to the fic­tion­al Swed­ing spe­cial­ists of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Be Kind, Rewind.

While smart­phones and free edit­ing apps have def­i­nite­ly made it eas­i­er for aspir­ing film­mak­ers to bring their fan­tasies to fruition, it’s worth not­ing that The Crit­ics saved for a month to buy the green fab­ric for their chro­ma key effects.

Their pro­duc­tions are also plagued with the inter­net and pow­er out­ages that are a fre­quent occur­rence in their home base of Kaduna, slow­ing every­thing from the ren­der­ing process to the Youtube visu­al effects tuto­ri­als that have advanced their craft.

To date they’ve filmed 20 shorts on a smart phone with a smashed screen, mount­ed to a bro­ken micro­phone stand that’s found new life as a home­made tri­pod.

Their sim­ple set up will be com­ing in for an upgrade, how­ev­er, now that Nol­ly­wood direc­tor Kemi Adeti­ba has brought their efforts to the atten­tion of a much wider audi­ence, who donat­ed $5,800 in a fundrais­ing cam­paign.

It’s easy to imag­ine the young male demo­graph­ic flock­ing to a fea­ture-length, big-bud­get expan­sion of Z: The Begin­ning. It’s pos­si­ble even the art house crowd could be lured to a sum­mer block­buster whose set­ting is Nige­ria, thir­ty years into the future, a nov­el­ty for those of us unversed in Nol­ly­wood’s prodi­gious out­put.

The post-apoc­a­lyp­tic short, above, took the crew 7 months to film and edit. The stars also inhab­it­ed a num­ber of off­screen roles: stunt coor­di­na­tor, gaffer, prop mas­ter, com­pos­er, con­ti­nu­ity…

What’s next? Ear­li­er this month, Africa News revealed that the boys are busy with a new film whose plot they aren’t at lib­er­ty to reveal. We’re guess­ing a sequel, to go by a not so sub­tle hint fol­low­ing Z’s final cred­its and a mov­ing ded­i­ca­tion to “the ones we’ve lost.”

“Hor­ror, com­e­dy, sci-fi, action, we do all,” The Crit­ics’ pro­claim on their Youtube chan­nel, care­ful­ly cat­e­go­riz­ing their work as “films not skits.” (Their films’ length has thus far been dic­tat­ed by the unpre­dictabil­i­ty of their wifi sit­u­a­tion—Chase, below, is five min­utes long and took two days to ren­der.

“One of the tar­gets we aim for in the years to come is to make the biggest film in Nige­ria and prob­a­bly beyond,” God­win Josi­ahZ’s 19-year-old writer-direc­tor told Chan­nels Tele­vi­sion, Lagos’ 24-hour news chan­nel:

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.

Watch The Crit­ics’ films and mak­ing-ofs on their Youtube chan­nel.

Sup­port their work with a pledge to their recent­ly launched Patre­on.

via Kot­tke/Africa News

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Strange and Won­der­ful Movie Posters from Ghana: The Matrix, Alien & More

High School Kids Stage Alien: The Play and You Can Now Watch It Online

Direc­tor Robert Rodriguez Teach­es The Basics of Film­mak­ing in Under 10 Min­utes

Hear Kevin Smith’s Three Tips For Aspir­ing Film­mak­ers (NSFW)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 9 for anoth­er sea­son of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Longform’s New, Free App Lets You Read Great Journalism from Your Favorite Publishers


If you have man­aged to keep your atten­tion span intact dur­ing this dis­tract­ing infor­ma­tion age, then you’re almost cer­tain­ly famil­iar with, a web site that makes it easy to find some­thing great to read online, espe­cial­ly if you like read­ing infor­ma­tive, well-craft­ed works of non-fic­tion. Last week, Long­form enhanced its ser­vice with the release of a new, free app for iPhone and iPad. It’s the “only 100% free app that fil­ters out the inter­net junk and deliv­ers noth­ing but smart, in-depth reads.” And, draw­ing on mate­r­i­al from 1,000 pub­lish­ers, the app lets read­ers “cre­ate their own cus­tom feeds of high qual­i­ty, fea­ture-length jour­nal­ism,” and then read it all on the go. It’s a mis­sion that cer­tain­ly aligns with ours, so we’re more than hap­py to give the new app a plug.

Sign up for our dai­ly email and, once a day, we’ll bun­dle all of our dai­ly posts and drop them in your inbox, in an easy-to-read for­mat. You don’t have to come to us; we’ll come to you!

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Miranda July’s Quirky Film Presents Somebody, the New App That Connects Strangers in the Real World

Hav­ing owned an iPhone for all of one month, I’m still a bit leery of all it can pur­port­ed­ly do for me. Con­ve­nience is great, but I’m not sure I’m ready to cede con­trol of all the lit­tle tasks, chal­lenges, and puz­zles my own imper­fect brain has been han­dling more or less well for near­ly half a cen­tu­ry.

I don’t hate blun­der­ing. And I real­ly like inter­act­ing with librar­i­ans, local res­i­dents, and strangers who might be will­ing to use my cam­era to take a group pho­to in a restau­rant or scenic loca­tion. 

Film­mak­er Miran­da July’s just released Some­body is, I sus­pect, some­thing of a niche app.

If you cringe at the idea of flash mobs, Improv Every­where, and audi­ence inter­ac­tive the­ater, it is most def­i­nite­ly not for you. 

It’s absolute­ly per­fect for me (or will be once I get up to speed on my touch­screen.)

Basi­cal­ly, you take a self­ie, cre­ate a pro­file, and wait for a stranger to select you to deliv­er a live mes­sage as his or her proxy. In addi­tion to trawl­ing the area for the des­ig­nat­ed recip­i­ent, you may be called upon to weep, hug, or get on your knees to get that mes­sage across.

Will you make a new friend? Prob­a­bly not, but you will def­i­nite­ly share a moment.

And because no good deed goes unre­ward­ed, your per­for­mance will be open to the vagaries of cus­tomer review, a humil­i­a­tion July does not shy from in the pro­mo­tion­al video above.

Is this app for real?

Yes, espe­cial­ly if you live in LA, New York, or anoth­er cul­tur­al­ly rich Some­body hotspot.

If you don’t—or if receiv­ing a mes­sage deliv­ered, in all like­li­hood, by a tech savvy hip­ster, makes your flesh crawl—you can still enjoy the film as a com­ment on our dig­i­tal exis­tence, as well as a reflec­tion of July’s ongo­ing desire to con­nect.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Miran­da July’s Short Film on Avoid­ing the Pit­falls of Pro­cras­ti­na­tion

Learn to Make But­tons with Film­mak­er Miran­da July

David Sedaris Reads You a Sto­ry By Miran­da July

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, home­school­er, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Free Stanley Kubrick App Features Great Photos, Script Notes, Interviews & More

KubrickScreenIn 2012, the Los Ange­les Coun­ty Muse­um of Art (LACMA) unveiled a sprawl­ing, exhaus­tive exhib­it on Stan­ley Kubrick. And it had just about every­thing you might want on the great direc­tor. Ear­ly pho­tographs he took for Look mag­a­zine in the 1940s? Check. The blood soaked dress­es of those creepy twins from The Shin­ing? You got it! Sketch­es, notes and doc­u­ments about Napoleon, the great­est movie he nev­er made? They had a whole room for that. For those cinephiles who wor­ship at Kubrick’s altar, LACMA’s exhib­it was akin to a vis­it to the Vat­i­can. There were more holy relics there than you could shake a mono­lith at—oh, and they had one of those there too.

The exhib­it wrapped up in June 2013. If you missed it and you are jonesing for more Kubrick mem­o­ra­bil­ia, take heart — LACMA designed an app in con­junc­tion with the exhib­it for the iPhone, iPad and Android and you can down­load it right now. For free. The app is about as sprawl­ing as the exhib­it (and it will take a bit of time to down­load) but it fea­tures hand drawn notes from Kubrick, behind-the-scenes pic­tures from all of his movies, and inter­views with the direc­tor, plus ones with the likes of Elvis Mitchell, Christo­pher Nolan and Dou­glas Trum­bull.

The only thing that the app and the exhib­it didn’t cov­er is the ever-grow­ing num­ber of insane con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries sur­round­ing his work. Want some­thing about how The Shin­ing is real­ly about a faked moon land­ing or how Eyes Wide Shut is real­ly about the Illu­mi­nati? Look some­where else.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Daugh­ter Shares Pho­tos of Her­self Grow­ing Up on Her Father’s Film Sets

Dark Side of the Moon: A Mock­u­men­tary on Stan­ley Kubrick and the Moon Land­ing Hoax

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Very First Films: Three Short Doc­u­men­taries — Free Online

Rare 1960s Audio: Stan­ley Kubrick’s Big Inter­view with The New York­er

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

Free App Lets You Play Chess With 23-Year-Old Norwegian World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Chess has been expe­ri­enc­ing a sur­pris­ing revival as of late, with the World Cham­pi­onships mak­ing head­lines for the first time in  years. As it was dur­ing the days of Bob­by Fis­ch­er and lat­er Gar­ry Kas­parov, the resur­gence is large­ly the doing of one man: Norway’s 23-year-old chess phe­nom, Mag­nus Carlsen. After hav­ing attained the lev­el of a grand­mas­ter at the age of 13, Carlsen had a string of spec­tac­u­lar vic­to­ries that cul­mi­nat­ed in his win over India’s Viswanathan Anand in the world cham­pi­onships this past Novem­ber. Carlsen also holds the high­est rat­ing in the game’s his­to­ry. Oh, and he beat Bill Gates in 79 sec­onds (here’s a video). What’s next for the reign­ing king of chess? A free iOS chess app, of course.

The Mag­nus Plays app, which allows users to play against a sim­u­lat­ed Carlsen, was  released this past Tues­day. If you’re wor­ried that your tech­ni­cal prowess may not stack up against the new face of chess, don’t wor­ry: the app relies on a vast data­base of moves that Carlsen used through­out the years, allow­ing you to play him any­where from the ages of 5 to 23. I’m not a par­tic­u­lar­ly adept chess play­er, but I didn’t have too much trou­ble with Carlsen at his youngest. The vic­to­ry bol­stered my con­fi­dence, so I decid­ed to skip to Carlsen’s cur­rent 23-year-old self. As much as I’d like to dis­cuss the out­come of the sec­ond game, it’s prob­a­bly best to skim over the results. Suf­fice it to say that I have room for improve­ment. Luck­i­ly, the app also has a “Train With Me” sec­tion, where Carlsen pro­vides video tuto­ri­als (some free, and some paid) on how to improve your game. If you’re feel­ing like you’ve lost a few IQ points after repeat­ed bouts with Flap­py Bird, Mag­nus Plays is a great alter­na­tive.


Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writ­ing at the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Bill Gates Lose a Chess Match in 79 Sec­onds to the New World Chess Cham­pi­on Mag­nus Carlsen

A Famous Chess Match from 1910 Reen­act­ed with Clay­ma­tion

Chess Rivals Bob­by Fis­ch­er and Boris Spassky Meet in the ‘Match of the Cen­tu­ry’

Leonard Bernstein Conducts Beethoven’s 9th in a Classic 1979 Performance

Even if you don’t know clas­si­cal music, you know Lud­wig van Beethoven’s Sym­pho­ny No. 9. Fin­ished in 1824, Beethoven’s final com­plete sym­pho­ny, and the first from any major com­pos­er to use voic­es, has risen to and remained at the top of the West­ern orches­tral canon as one of the most fre­quent­ly per­formed sym­phonies in exis­tence. The Japan­ese have even gone so far as to make it a New Year’s tra­di­tion. I remem­ber, when first learn­ing the Japan­ese lan­guage, watch­ing an edu­ca­tion­al video about an ama­teur neigh­bor­hood cho­rus con­vert­ing the orig­i­nal Ger­man into more read­able Japan­ese pho­net­ic script, so as to bet­ter sing it for their cel­e­bra­tion. A charm­ing sto­ry, to be sure, but at the top of the post, you’ll find Beethoven’s 9th ren­dered with the exact oppo­site of ama­teurism by the Wiener Phil­har­moniker, with Leonard Bern­stein con­duct­ing. (Part one, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.) Then again, at the root of “ama­teur” lies the term “to love,” and who would dare accuse Bern­stein, how­ev­er con­sum­mate­ly pro­fes­sion­al a man of music, of not lov­ing this sym­pho­ny?

“I’ve just fin­ished film­ing and record­ing the great 9th Sym­pho­ny,” Bern­stein says in the clip just above, describ­ing how the expe­ri­ence got him think­ing about his­tor­i­cal dates. “My asso­ci­a­tions led me back to the year of my own birth, 1918, the year of the great armistice which brought the First World War to an end. Now, I had the key. The pass­word was peace, armistice, broth­er­hood — ‘ain’t gonna study war no more.’  Peace, broth­er­hood, we are all chil­dren of one father, let us embrace one anoth­er, all the mil­lions of us, friend­ship, love, joy: these, of course, are the key words and phras­es from [Friedrich] Schiller’s [“Ode to Joy”] to which Beethoven attached that glo­ri­ous music, rang­ing from the mys­te­ri­ous to the radi­ant to the devout to the ecsta­t­ic.” You can also watch the per­for­mance that put Bern­stein’s mind on this track as one of the many includ­ed in Beethoven 9, Deutsche Gram­mophon’s first iPad/iPhone/iPod app. For free, you get two min­utes of the sym­pho­ny with all fea­tures enabled. “The full expe­ri­ence,” their site adds, ” is then unlocked through In-App Pur­chase.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Leonard Bern­stein Demys­ti­fies the Rock Rev­o­lu­tion for Curi­ous (if Square) Grown-Ups in 1967

Leonard Bernstein’s Mas­ter­ful Lec­tures on Music (11+ Hours of Video Record­ed in 1973)

Bern­stein Breaks Down Beethoven

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

Learn to Build iPhone & iPad Apps with Stanford’s Free Course, Coding Together

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 1.01.26 PMJust a quick fyi. In the past week, Stan­ford has launched the lat­est ver­sion of Cod­ing Togeth­er, the pop­u­lar course that teach­es Stan­ford stu­dents — and now stu­dents world­wide — how to build apps for the iPhone and iPad. Taught by Paul Hegar­ty, the lat­est ver­sion of the free course focus­es on how to build apps in iOS 6, and the lec­tures will be grad­u­al­ly rolled onto iTunes from Jan­u­ary 22 through March 28. Find the first lec­tures here.

This course, along with oth­er top-flight cod­ing cours­es, appears in the Com­put­er Sci­ence sec­tion of our big col­lec­tion of 650 Free Online Cours­es, where you’ll also find cours­es on Phi­los­o­phy, His­to­ry, Physics and oth­er top­ics.

Look­ing for tuto­ri­als on build­ing apps in Android? Find them here.

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Watch Philip Glass Remix His Own Music—Then Try it Yourself With a New App

We told you in the fall about the album released by Beck and a troupe of oth­er musi­cians to cel­e­brate com­pos­er Philip Glass’s 75th birth­day. Rework—Philip Glass Remixed is a col­lec­tion of Glass works by artists includ­ing Beck, Tyondai Brax­ton, and Cor­nelius. Turns out that Glass him­self was pret­ty turned on by the results. In the above video, Glass plays around with his own music using an inter­ac­tive “Glass Machine” app, designed to com­ple­ment the album.

You can almost see the wheels in Glass’s head turn­ing as he swipes and taps away on the screen, cre­at­ing new loops with phras­es from his own music.

The app that Glass enjoys so much is avail­able to any­one with an iPad, iPod touch or iPhone (3Gs or new­er) and $10. The Rework app was designed by Scott Snibbe, who also cre­at­ed the inter­ac­tive galaxy in Bjork’s Bio­phil­ia app.


The app includes eleven inter­ac­tive visu­al­iza­tions of remixed songs from the Rework album (exam­ple on left) and a Glass Machine, allow­ing users to cre­ate their own Glass-inspired music.

As Glass him­self said, while play­ing with the Machine, “the user has become the artist.”

Relat­ed Con­tent

Philip Glass, Seen and Heard Through the Cin­e­mat­ic Mind of Peter Green­away (1983)

‘The Bal­lad of the Skele­tons’: Allen Ginsberg’s 1996 Col­lab­o­ra­tion with Philip Glass and Paul McCart­ney

Kate Rix writes about dig­i­tal media and edu­ca­tion. Read more of her work at .  

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