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Smartphones: Filmmaking Tools from Short Films to Oscar Winners

by admin

Smartphones are rising as a viable filmmaking tool. Of course, the iPhone is often the default choice of consumers looking to capture home movies. It killed camcorder sales — a 42 percent drop at the end of 2011, according to NPD — in much the same way it decimated digital point-and-shoot cameras. But it’s also eking out a place in the filmmaking industry.

Smartphones in Filmmaking: Notable Examples

1. Early Examples: Park Chan-Wook’s “Night Fishing”

In 2010, for example, acclaimed Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook shot a short film, “Night Fishing,” on an iPhone 4, which released in South Korean cinemas a year later. Capturing scenes with an army of 10 iPhones, Park embraced the constraints of the small-format cameras to shoot in a looser, freer way, according to the Wall Street Journal.

2. Feature Film Milestone: Hoonam Khalili’s “Olive”

But beyond short films, in 2010, filmmaker Hoonam Khalili shot his feature film, “Olive,” entirely on a Nokia N8. Though it had a brief theatrical release, it didn’t blow up the box office, but it did made history as the first feature shot entirely on a smartphone.

3. Oscar-Winning Success: Malik Bendjelloul’s “Searching for Sugarman”

More recently, director Malik Bendjelloul shot “Searching for Sugarman,” which won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, partly with an iPhone when he ran out of money to film. Hard up for a solution, he used his smartphone and the $2 Vintage 8mm app to shoot the rest of his film.

“I started shooting on super-8 film, which is expensive — and I ran out of money,” he told CNN. “I needed more shots, and then realized there was a $1 app, and it looked basically the same.”

The Oscar for Sugarman was a major milestone for mobile filmmaking, proving that mobile-captured footage can stand its ground with higher-end devices.

Smartphones and Filmmaking: Changing the Game

Smartphones — and the growing number of apps that can change the look and feel of raw video — have become a powerful tool in a filmmaker’s arsenal. In fact, if I started film school today, it’s highly likely I’d be shooting our directing class exercises on our phones, instead of lugging around bulky camcorder cases. It used to be near impossible to sneak into locations like museums and other New York landmarks to shoot with them, but with iPhones, we could blend right in with the tourists.

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