Features News, , , , , — February 28, 2014 15:48 — 0 Comments

Smartphone filmmaking: everyone’s doing it

park chan wook, iphone

Early adopter: Park Chan-Wook

As technology improves and prejudice from certain quarters wanes, we find more and more influential filmmakers shooting on the smartphone


“At day’s end, I’m just a guy trying to get a film made,” director Brian Kowalchuk told movie website indiewire.com, which is why we applaud the fact that he plans to shoot his next feature-length movie Ode on an iPhone.

Kowalchuk’s revelation prompted the website to ask: ‘Will 2014 Be the Year That Smartphone Filmmaking Goes Mainstream?

In an illuminating article written by David Rosen, there were many varied points of view but no real conclusion, so I guess the jury’s still out?

“The pro of using a mobile device is that people think it’s cool and cutting-edge,” Kowalchuk said. “In a way, I agree. I am gaining access to a few major talent agencies and managers and other companies I might not otherwise have access to. People want to read the script, too. This is not a minor consideration.”

The cons, according to Kowalchuk, is that he believes that smartphone filmmaking is “an unproven technology” and that “the cons might outweigh the pros.”

As we know, smartphone filmmaking really took off with the launch of Apple’s iPhone 4 almost four years ago but in reality the genre stretches back at least eight years with the first full-length film shot on a phone attributed to Italian directors Marcello Mencarini and Barbara Seghezzi, who made a 93-minute film, called New Love Meetings filmed in MPEG4 format on a mobile phone.

When Award-winning South Korean director Park Chan-Wook, whose credits include the 2003 Oldboy, Lady Vengeance and Thirst made Night Fishing, a 30-minute feature on the iPhone 4 with a $133,000 budget at the end of 2010, suddenly  the world began to take notice.

Since then plenty of filmmakers have adopted this new mobile technology but it wasn’t until last year when Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul revealed that his Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, was partly filmed on an iPhone 4, that the wider public began to appreciate the power of the little screen in your pocket.

As Filmmaker Sascha Ciezata, who shot his animation film, When Lynch Met Lucas, on an iPhone in 2010 told Rosen: “it will be a long-time before Hollywood accepts it as a new standard,” and he warns that “the indie market is getting flooded with individual content, posing a daunting task for those starting out: How do I stand out? And more importantly: How do I create something meaningful in a culture where films have become a disposable art form?”

Here at smartmoviemaking.com we believe it is not a case of smartphone filmmaking going mainstream, the technology will dictate that particular argument and filmmakers will always have a choice of devices at their disposal dictated by their budget

But one thing we do know is that as the technology and optics improve on smartphones you can betcha we will see more feature-length films being made on mobiles – whether the old guard like the fact or not.

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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