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In : News Comments : 0 Author : Quickclass Team Date : 07 Feb 2017

With the advancement of smartphone technology over the last decade, it comes as no surprise that smartphone cameras are now able to capture motion-picture worthy images. The recently released iPhone 7 for example allows users to film high resolution videos up to 4k[1] and, with the addition of camera accessories, including lenses and mounts, it comes as no surprise that a growing number of filmmakers are finding ways to produce feature length films with their mobile devices.

In 2015, American director Sean S. Baker made headlines with the release of his comedy-drama Tangerine, a film that follows a transgender sex worker who, with the help of a friend, decides to get revenge on her cheating pimp-boyfriend. The film’s budget was a mere $100,000 and was nominated for various Independent Spirit Awards and snagged the Audience Award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards. The film was shot entirely on the iPhone 5s,[2] allowing the money saved on camera equipment to pay for locations and extras.[3]

Japanese director Shogo Miyaki, who shot his 2016 film A.I. Love You on the iPhone 6s, said that one of the greatest benefits of shooting with smartphones is the mobility it allows.[4] Miyagi went on to explain that the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of an iPhone production allowed him to shoot the film through trial and error since he didn’t have to worry about extenuating costs of production rentals. The use of smartphones in cinema allows for a fully immersive experience, allowing the audience to view the film as if they were filming it themselves.

Since the introduction of digital cameras into the filmmaking world at turn of the century, many filmmakers have opted to distance themselves from shooting on traditional film, with almost 90% of the top 100 US productions shooting digitally in 2015.[5] The introduction of smartphones, some of the most advanced portable cameras, into the film industry therefore seems to be an organic evolution.

While many emerging and established filmmakers opt to use this newer technology, directors like Quentin Tarantino, who insists on shooting with 35mm, call the rise of digital cinematography ‘the death of cinema as [we] know it.’[6]

However, smartphone cinematography is not exclusive to low budget films and has seen itself inch towards commercial cinema increasingly in recent years including 2016’s Shin Godzilla, which featured several iPhone shots despite its $15 million budget. The phenomenon of mobile device cinematography isn’t exclusive to the film industry either, with the Emmy and Golden Globe winning sit-com Modern Family releasing an entire episode shot on Apple products.

Whether you believe that the introduction of smartphones into the filmic sphere is the death of cinema or a much-needed evolution, it is impossible to deny the accessibility that these devices provide. The use of smartphones in film, a product 83% of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 own,[7] allows many amateur and aspiring filmmakers to explore and produce their own films in a polished and professional manner.

[1] Apple Inc., “iPhone 7”, Apple, 2016 <>

[2] Follows, Stephen, “Film Vs Digital – What Is Hollywood Shooting On?”, Stephen Follows, 2015 <>

[3] Matsumoto, Neil, “Down The Street – HD Video Pro”, HD Video Pro, 2015 <>

[4] Sato, Misuzu, “Low-Budget Filmmakers Turn To Smartphones To Shoot Scenes:The Asahi Shimbun”, The Asahi Shimbun, 2017 <>

[5] Follows, Stephen, “Film Vs Digital – What Is Hollywood Shooting On?”, Stephen Follows, 2015 <>

[6] Marine, Joe, “Quentin Tarantino Says Digital Projection Is The ‘Death Of Cinema As I Know It'”, No Film School, 2014 <>

[7] Chen, Bayun; Ryan Seilhamer; Luke Bennett and Sue Bauer, “Students’ Mobile Learning Practices in Higher Education: A Multi-Year Study”, Educause Review, 2015 <>

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