We are all familiar with smart TVs, but have you heard about TV shows made using smartphones?
The Egyptian media company 10 Mojo Studios is bringing us precisely that, showing that smartphones are capable of doing things that we had barely imagined possible. Today, the smartphone has become a tool without limits, with a media-production unit that used to involve a camera crew and a great deal of equipment now being reduced to one smartphone camera that you can hold in the palm of your hand.
The starting point was the International Video Mobile Conference held in Paris in February 2020 dedicated to “mobile journalism” or what is known as “Mojo”, an interactive media style supporting the sharing of ideas and visions.
Smarter TV by phone
During the conference, 10 Mojo was formed as the first production studio to operate using only smartphones in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the name of the company being chosen by adding 10 to Mojo as it is only the 10th studio worldwide to operate using this technique and is operated by a maximum of 10 members.
The oldest member of the 10 Mojo team is just 26 years old and all the others are in their early 20s. All of them are new graduates and have the talent and professionalism to handle multiple roles.
10 Mojo is a digital platform for Arab youth that offers entertaining educational and artistic content. It is a channel of the Arab Studios Company, a sister company of El-Ghad and TEN TV. It is a digital content-creator of films and other materials and writes, edits, develops and publishes content only via smartphones, where anyone can watch and listen on five platforms in different formats and durations, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Sound Cloud and YouTube. Its audiences are in the six Arab countries of Egypt, Algeria, Palestine, Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon, and most are between 18 and 24 years old.
“Our mission is to create and to present audiences with entertaining content. It is also to focus on the work and talent of content-creators and give it the right exposure,” said Haitham Al-Sawi, the 33-year-old 10 Mojo channel manager. “Our main market objective is to target class A and B individuals in society aged from 18 to 30 years old and to provide a new model and shift interest from TV to social media, something which has already been seen over the past couple of years.”
It seems that this mission is popular, since 10 Mojo’s total views over the first three months of the channel’s creation have been some 550,000. Now they plan to launch a special mobile application to watch their content.
Minister of Information Osama Heikal in MOJO studio
They started to work on the project in June 2019 after the acceptance of Al-Sawi’s proposal. “Seventeen programmes are being produced at the 10 Mojo studio in the Egyptian Media Production City in Cairo, all of them made by smartphones only,” Al-Sawi said. “All the programmes are produced within one studio of an area of only 65 square metres equipped with six mobile cameras and a control room using mobile phones as well.”
Each programme ranges between three to ten minutes in duration, and they are meant as family viewing, including programmes on fashion, history, music, drama, cooking, coaching, kids, comedy, business and pets.
On the international level, there are now some 3.5 billion smartphone users out of a total world population of some 7.8 billion. In Egypt, the Ministry of Communication and Information technology says that there are some 94.76 million mobile-phone subscribers and some 28 million mobile Internet subscribers.
While there is still little competition for smartphone production, 10 Mojo’s main competitors are digital-content providers such as Peace Cake, Glocal and Koshk Originals. “But the real obstacles are that traditional media institutions must accept the transformations coming about as a result of digital technologies. You can’t produce content using the same traditional TV capabilities when you want to digitise. The whole philosophy must be changed. In digital media, one person can substitute for ten, and these ten must collaborate,” Al-Sawi said.
Smarter TV by phone
“We also need to build content for all the Arab countries and not only for Egypt. We aim for unity, and nothing beats the media when connecting nations. We have to admit that it is not always easy to operate entirely using smartphones. We could have used desktops for post-production, but we decided not to as we wanted to go for the full challenge.”
10 Mojo is also holding competitions to choose new content-creators from among the public. As a result, the company does not only give audiences content from the studio’s smartphones to their smartphones, but it also gives audiences the chance to choose who will entertain them.
In 2021, the region’s longest-running professional smartphone content-creator’s festival will be held in Dubai for creators working in Arabic in cooperation with the Dubai Knowledge Summit.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 August, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly