You might have heard the adage "The best camera is the one you have with you" and in recent history that best camera most people typically have with them happens to be a cell phone. Whether you're team iPhone or Android, recent camera phone innovations, ranging from high end add ons to new takes on old tech, have turned an entire generation of casual photographers and videographers into serious hobbyists if not professionals. Some people have even taken it a step further and have shot short or feature length films all on their cell phone. Whether opting to do so out of necessity or simply for the challenge, these films have pushed the boundaries on what we can expect from our simple camera phones. Here are some amazing examples below.
And Uneasy Lies The Mind: Trailer
And Uneasy Lies The Mind was released in the Spring of 2014 and billed as the first feature film shot entirely on an iPhone. The iPhone was of course easy on the budget, which is certainly an advantage over high end film cameras and according to director Ricky Fosheim helped get the desired look for his narrative more than a traditional camera could have. The iPhone was used along with the Filmic pro app and some lens adapters.
The Painter of Jalouzi
The Painter of Jalouzi is the visually vibrant story of one man trying to make a difference through his art in the small town of Jalouzi in Haiti. His canvas is the entire town. This film shot by RYOT was the first 4k film using a smartphone and the results, while aided with gear which the team talks about in the behind the scenes video, are amazing.
This stunning short film by Sven Dreesbach was intended to be a proof of concept for a longer film he eventually wanted to make, but when all was said and done the short took on a life of its own. With muted beauty capturing the power and majesty of the ocean from the standpoint of those who would seek to tame it, Willow Creek is as alluring as it is mystifying. With an iPhone 5s, an underwater case and footage edited in Davinci Resolve, Willow Creek shows another side of what's possible with a smart phone and vision.
Searching for Sugar Man
Now to be fair, Searching for Sugar Man is the only film on the list to be shot in part with the iPhone, but it is also the only film to win an Oscar on the list as well! When late director Malik Bendjelloul hit a budget snag during filming, snag being he ran out of money, he found a dollar app that pretty much matched the look of the super 8 film camera he was using. To consider a film partially shot with an iPhone won an Oscar shows the potential for the medium down the line.
Critically acclaimed, gritty, funny, innovative and provocative are a few ways to describe the Sundance favorite Tangerine. The torrid tale of two trans women sex workers in Hollywood who set out to track down a cheating boyfriend was enough to garner attention, yet as much as the story was a draw the way that story was captured was equally compelling. The iPhone 5S coupled with the previously mentioned FilMiC pro and a few add ons, served as the low budget solution to help this film get made. As director Sean S. Baker noted, the savings they made by shooting on the iPhone freed up budget for locations and other such expenses that helped this film achieve its myriad of accolades.
So it is true the best camera is the one you have with you, but even more important is the vision that guides the lens and the passion that goes into your story telling. Content still reigns supreme, luckily now the playing field has been leveled so that it's easier to get that content out.
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