Technology continues to expand the boundaries of our work and lives. In the film industry, we’ve all seen the incredible opportunities it’s created for amateur movie-makers and Youtubers everywhere. Got a phone? You’re ready for production. Well, interestingly enough, the technology has evolved so much that professional filmmakers are now jumping on board and also putting their smartphones to use.
Here’s a look at some of the notable smartphone-produced work from both experimental and well-known directors.
One of the first to shoot a film entirely on a smartphone, and have it head to the cinemas, was director Hooman Khalili. Back in 2011, he pioneered this production approach with his film, “Olive.”
Sean Baker took on the challenge in 2015 with his movie, “Tangerine.” Using 3 different iPhones, custom Steadicam rigs and adapter lenses, Sean exhibited a smartphone’s ability to create imagery just as powerful as other professional video cameras. The film ended up enjoying the adoration of multiple independent film festivals, both nationally and internationally.
"To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have even made the movie without it," Baker says. "It truly elevated it to a cinematic level."
Since then, a few other directors have taken the smartphone leap. One of those risky enough to try was Michel Goundry, whose previous films include: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and “The Green Hornet.” In 2017, Goundry’s 10-minute short, “Détour,” was captured only by operating an iPhone 7.
The next hot shot director to attempt a smartphone masterpiece was innovative storyteller, Steven Soderbergh. Impressed with the cinematography it could create, Soderbergh shot his latest horror-thriller movie, “Unsane,” on an iPhone. This 4k film was just released this month in theaters.
Soderbergh: “I think this is the future. Anybody going to see this movie who has no idea of the backstory to the production, will have no idea this was shot on the phone.”
Although these filmmakers may be pioneers in this realm, they likely won’t be alone for long. The flexibility and affordability that smartphones can supply a director while still providing a high-quality picture opens up a whole new approach to filming. From Hollywood blockbusters to TV commercials, the trend will certainly continue to grow. However, the important thing to keep in mind is: It’s not the phone that makes a film or video smart. It’s the people behind the technology!