Learning to Be Ourselves – International Smartphone Filmmaking Workshop

Martha Cecilia Gómez, Catalina Cortese, Leonor Merín

Publicado originalmente en

Smartphone Filmmaking is a project born from the pandemic, which transmits the STEAM education promotion spirit and reinforces the idea of democratizing access to highly motivational and challenging projects to populations for which pedagogical tools appropriate for this millennium have traditionally been out of reach.
The Experience
Filmmaking with phones was the invitation through which we gathered online with approximately 40 children and youths between 9 and 18 years old, coming mainly from Chile and Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. Eager to learn about filmmaking techniques and the experience of making movies, the participated across 7 sessions throughout November, 2021, where they conceived, wrote, filmed, edited and presented a short film focused on the search for sharing their individuality, interests and contexts. This is a workshop that raises awareness on the great potential of mobile phones, an everyday tool, for the development of the skills and talents of the 21st century.


Education Soul (Colombia), a company dedicated to the technological education of the 21st century and the Gabriel & Mary Mustakis Foundation (Chile), dedicated to the integral development of children and youths, came together with the purpose of contributing to integral education for children and youths through digital media and resources, in the midst of which is born the #YoFilmo (#IFilm) workshop. This workshop is a prototype to contribute to updating and new educational strategies in a post-pandemic world, which has accelerated its shift towards digital platforms and universal access. A pedagogical alternative that promotes the development of responsible digital citizenship, in accordance with the demands of today’s world. A commitment to the transformation of the digital skills of children and young people and a convergence mechanism between the arts, communication and the digital world.

Integral Development

Integral development aims at holistic education, where the human being lives and learns from experiences systemically across all of its dimensions: Soul, mind, body and its environment. Traditional education has leaned towards developing logical thinking, which is why we have placed special emphasis on what needs to be balanced out in order to promote more comprehensive environments. This workshop’s approach is the perspective of learning to be oneself, a fundamental aspect for the development of relational skills, in turn necessary for the challenges of the 21st century. Thus, the workshop built an environment of trust and empathy, through the role of the mediators, who, from their expertise, interceded in the learning process with dynamics that facilitated interpersonal relationships, built a collaborative atmosphere and strengthened soft skills.

Pedagogical Objective

The didactics of this experience strengthen capacities in several dimensions: on the one hand, “learning to learn”, since telling a story through cinematographic language requires mastery and management of individual learning processes that will allow the participant to strengthen constant learning throughout his/her life. On the other hand, the mindsets used to tell a story or understand the story of others stimulate broad levels of understanding. And finally, cinema is a very important part of popular culture, art and entertainment. The plots and themes of cinema can be taken to formal education as a reflective element that guides and reinforces positive behaviors connected with oneself.

Format and Methodology

The experience interspersed practical and theoretical aspects, favored by a virtual platform, and constant illustrative examples and reflections. Thus, the workshop was guided by three thematic blocks: (i) Creating a story, (ii) Filming a movie and (iii) The art of editing, which combined plenary sessions guided by the filmmaker Gustavo Bernal, who resides in the United States, as well as sessions in small groups guided by other professional filmmakers residing in Colombia, and in each case accompanied by a team of mediators from the Mustakis Foundation, based in Chile.

During the group sessions, random samples of the progress of the participants were taken, where in addition to having an expert’s vision, collaborative peer review was also promoted, detecting value propositions as well as aspects to develop or improve, always from assertive and respectful communication for the products of colleagues. Thus, the experience reaffirmed respect for the differences and sensitivities of each one. In addition, as a teaching resource, at the end of each session the participants received infographics with the information and key tips for each session, to promote their learning process and give continuity to the work. In this way, students, with an average age of 12 years, combined, their creativity and their daily experiences in an intensive period of time with digital tools that allowed them to develop a very specific outlook of their various thoughts and feelings.

Product- Short Films

To close the experience, a premiere was held with the screening of 20 short films, which lasted between 2 and 4 minutes, created by each of the participants individually. They highlighted scripts that were different from each other, loaded with emotion, creativity and current affairs. Some headlines were “A Game, a Friendship”, “Donatello”, “Toxic Garbage Island”, “Don Pelusa and His Adventure”, “A Walk Through the Center of Caracas”, “Microwave 3000 and the Oscars”, “The Love of the Birds”, “The Superpower Children”, “The Soccer Dog”, “Valentino the Photographer” and “The Greatest Show Performance”, and they showed world views from different ages, cities, cultures and domestic circumstances. They also reflected the strengthening of abilities such as autonomy, assertive communication and the exercise of healthy digital citizenship appropriate for their ages.

This space reinforced the philosophy of active participation proposed during all the sessions, which with a structure of synchronous virtual presentations, had key moments of opening microphones, debate and group reflection, benefitted by the constant mix of participants that generated interactions with as many pairs as possible and the development of relational skills.


Among the most notable factors of the experience we have: 

  • The virtual environment, which additionally allowed us to bring together participants from 5 Spanish speaking countries, and enabled multicultural dialog. Thus, with digital support, the sessions were very dynamic and generated the interest and motivation of the participants, who were very active both in the chat and the open mic and debate spaces. In the words of filmmaker Mr. Gus “we were all close together in spite of being separated in different countries”.
  • Demystification of the technical complexity involved in cinematography and making participants aware of the importance of this art as a human expression.
  • Strengthening of the vision of their own self, and the relationship that their experiences have with the particular environment in which they find themselves.
  • Awareness and visualization of other worlds and the value of this opening to validate one’s own reality and thus live a true digital citizenship.
  • The activity was notably enriched by the moments of connection and reflection guided by the mediators, who demonstrated the good combination of moments of meditation and centering with the display of applied technical knowledge.

Cinema has a versatility to exploit and explore its large educational potential as a point of reference for real situations and contexts, even though the traditional system has not integrated it in an organized fashion; cinema as an object of study, as an educational resource and as a means of expression for children and young people, stimulates divergent thinking, originality and intellectual independence.

As this is a space that promotes freedom of expression, children and young people acquire the confidence they need to show themselves or their work to an audience, adding to their arsenal tools that aid body language, the correct use of language, concentration and discipline that account for the maturity of skills such as: empathy, assertive communication, interpersonal relationships, managing emotions, stress and problem solving; all of them necessary for the future, and for the present.

The joint implementation of this workshop gave us the opportunity to add new elements, acknowledge new pedagogical practices among organizations, and reinforce our conviction on the opportunity that the different artistic manifestations offer for revitalizing educational processes. International work grants access to other worldviews specific of each territory, which is something we were able to appreciate in spite of the fact that all of the participants were Spanish speakers from sister nations. Smartphone Filmmaking is a project born from the pandemic, which transmits the STEAM education promotion spirit and reinforces the idea of democratizing access to highly motivational and challenging projects to populations for which pedagogical tools appropriate for this millennium have traditionally been out of reach.

Experiences like this foster a healthy relationship between oneself and the environment, on the basis that there are as many ways of “being oneself” as there are families, societies and cultures in the world. And as part of this discovery, the experience is an invitation to intervene and be a co-author in the various stages: “Learning refers to the enjoyment of life.”