When the iPhone is a movie camera

When the iPhone is a movie camera

The digital revolution has triumphed and today there are a few who prefer to shoot on celluloid: Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, as well as more independent filmmakers who, in the process of reversing the orthodoxy, are claiming the chemical props and forms of silent cinema (1.33:1) and cinema from the 1930s (1.37: 1).

It is precisely a question of form. Mobile will be the opposite of widescreen. And if you want to make a film that shows how a young person feels trapped in their environment, nothing is better than simulating the effect of a mobile phone's vertical image but projected onto a cinema screen.

This is what Canadian Xavier Dolan did in the movie Mommy (2014), which was shot with a small 1:1 camera. The feeling throughout the shots is truly that of an imprisoned character until, in a revealing moment, one of the most inspiring of contemporary cinema, the young man gestures with his hands to enlarge the screen and it expands sideways until he reaches the panorama. appearance. 1:1 is ideal, but small in size, and compatible with many social networks, such as Instagram. Dolan thought about how we view images on networks.

A year later, American independent Sean Baker – author of The Florida Project – directed Tangerine, a drama about a transgender prostitute who has just been released from prison. Baker used only three iPhone 5s in his photography, the Apple model that was in circulation between 2013 and 2016, which weighed 112 grams and had a screen measuring 4.0 inches diagonally, with 32 digital zoom and a resolution of 8 megapixels.

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But already in 2010, Jean-Luc Godard, a master of almost everything, recorded socialism using high-resolution video and images captured with a mobile phone or simulated textures. The movie is displayed in a 16:9 ratio, which is a little wider than square, as on many PCs from 2009, but the feel is similar.

Image and digital formats have been winning a little battle in cinema as it has evolved over the course of the 20th century: Even Farasat (2023), the Bollywood film – the Indian musical – was shot on an iPhone 14 pro; The award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man (2012) was made using a smartphone with a vintage 8mm camera app, which added grain to the image, and Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook was filmed using an iPhone 4 in the horror short Night Fishing (2011). ). ). This does not include films that at a given moment include one or more scenes filmed on a mobile phone as part of the story.

In Spanish cinema, there is a pioneer, Pablo Larquín, who shot Hooked with iPhone 4 in 2013. Screened at the Sitges Festival that year, the film is a frightening night-time horror story starring two American tourists in Barcelona, ​​and was designed for young people. The public who records everything they do with their cell phones. An instant film based on its time at a cost of 14 thousand euros. Larcuen later made the music video for Booty, a song by C. Tangana and Becky G.

Lonivers Söderberg

Who best understands the possibilities offered by the iPhone is Steven Soderbergh, the contemporary American director most interested in all kinds of new technologies. In 2002, he was shooting digital video and was one of the first to see the virtues of broadcast cinema before its drawbacks. It also pioneered the creation of an interactive television series (Mosaic), which is also designed to be viewed on mobile by HBO.

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If Godard, Dolan, or Becker made minority films for the festival cycle—although Mommy was a relative success in theaters—Soderbergh made commercial films. Perturbada, his 2018 thriller about a young woman confined to a mental institution, was recorded on an iPhone 7 Plus… and entered the Berlinale out of competition! This filming operation cost one and a half million euros and raised 13 million.

Soderbergh has adapted to this kind of image quality and shooting process by working, yes, with increasingly sophisticated iPhones that have overcome the reluctance of those who see such films as having an amateurish aesthetic. Shoot with a tripod and perform complex camera movements with equal ease. He also made High Flying Bird (2019) with a mobile phone, about basketball players and agents: he used an iPhone 8 with a special stabilizer and mountable anamorphic lenses.

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