1.6 Cellphilm Guide: An Introduction

Create the change you want to see in the world.

  • Cellphilms are short (1-4 min) videos made using a mobile device (e.g., cellphone or tablet) in response to a prompt. They are a great way to reflect on and present your ideas.
  • You can make a cellphilm on your own or in a group.
  • Showing your cellphilm to others can build awareness about disability rights, counter ableism and disability stigma, and support disabled students’ successes in placements.

Globally, mobile technology, especially cellphones and tablets, have become everyday devices with which to consume and create media. This has had a significant impact on the types of voices and perspectives that are available to us. No longer are we reliant on large media houses to show us the world; we make our own! For better or worse, social media offers us extensive insights into people’s lives. Cellphone videos have also become central to social-justice movements like BlackLivesMatters, #MeToo, and global climate crises activism. Mobile videos have sparked local and international social movements and disrupted systemic oppression.

The next chapter, Creating Cellphilms: A Nine-Step Guide, introduces the cellphilm method, a video-making process that celebrates the accessibility and global impact of “everyday media-making.” The term cellphilm, which combines the words cellphone and film, was coined by Johnathan Dockney and Keyan Tomaselli (2010); it refers to videos made with a cellphone or other mobile technology (e.g., a tablet). The cellphilm method is an evidence-based approach that has been used in education and activist circles to create, represent, and disseminate new knowledge and create social change (MacEntee, Burkholder, Shwab-Cartas, 2016). The nine-step method, which utilizes locally accessible resources (whatever you have available to you), emphasizes using forethought and planning to make a short video that can make change.

The links provided below and in Creating Cellphilms: A Nine-Step Guide access cellphilms other people have created for ACTon or for other projects. This media is shared with the consent of the creators. We present these examples to inspire your own creation. Cellphilms are diverse; no two need look the same. Some are highly edited, but most have a do-it-yourself (DIY) quality about them. As you use the guide and watch videos, think about what you can do to make a video that represents your ideas and your unique contributions to the area of disability accommodations and placement accessibility.

Cellphilms Created by Student Participants

Here are cellphilms student participants created during phase 1 of the ACTon project on barriers and challenges of communicating about accommodation in placements:

Cellphilms Created by Instructor Participants

Here are cellphilms made by instructor participants during phase 1 of the ACTon project:


Dockney, J., Tomaselli, K. G., & Hart, T. B. (2010). Cellphilms, mobile platforms and prodsumers Hyper-individuality and film. In N. Hyde-Clark (Ed.), The citizen in communication: Re-visiting traditional, new and community media practices in South Africa. Claremont: Juta.

MacEntee, K., Burkholder, C., & Schwab-Cartas, J. (2016). What’s a cellphilm? An introduction. In K. MacEntee, C. Burkholder, & J. Schwab-Cartas (Eds.), What’s a cellphilm? Integrating mobile technology into visual research and activism (pp. 1-18). Rotterdam, NL: Sense.


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