Smartphones Might Just Be The Next Big Thing For Independent Filmmakers
I remember how everyone was talking about Tangerine at the MAMI film festival last year. While the film is cockily funny, with excellent performances and sound design, it was making headlines the world over for being the first feature film to have been completely shot on an iPhone 6S. The video quality shocked most people, as did the sheer clarity of the colours – the film has a highly saturated canvas, with rich reds, pinks and oranges – and every budding film-maker was busy calculating just how easily the production budgets must have been slashed. Tangerine has been a critical and commercial success, with a very strong (albeit unsuccessful) Oscar campaign for 2015.
Stills from Tangerine
Does the video quality match that of industry quality film cameras or digital cameras? No, it doesn’t. Low light situations lead to grainy visuals and increased noise. While that could be a visual element or language for some film-makers, it does not work for most of them. Also, the phone’s mic is often irritated by wind and ambient sound. To be frank, it is essential that iPhone or smartphone film-makers invest in enough video gear and accessories like clamps, tripods, stabilizers, lenses, mics and sliders, to name a few. While the iPhone 6S might not be big screen ready yet, with a little help, it might just be the next big thing for independent filmmakers. More importantly, iPhone film-making has two massive advantages. Firstly, it makes it very easy to shoot outdoors, negating the need for crowd control or unnecessary permissions. For film-makers like Anurag Kashyap, who practice guerilla shooting, this is a major boon. Secondly, the easy transportation and portability of the shooting gear is undeniable. And the benefits that documentary film-makers can reap are endless.
Closer home, where film-making budgets are shoestring for the indie crowd, the film sparked off a lot of conversation and debate. While the trend might just seem ideal for our country, there have not been enough takers yet. Vandana Kataria made news recently with her fantastic music video of Jungli Sher, by the rapper Divine, which she shot on the iPhone 6S. Shlok Sharma, the debutant director of the yet-unreleased but critically acclaimed Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Haraamkhor, is making his next film on the iPhone 6S. Sharma’s film will be the first Indian feature film to be completely shot on a phone. He has already wrapped the principle photography of the film and, after test shoots and large screen projections, zeroed in on the technology.
Like he has mentioned in interviews, the phone becomes an intimate and less intrusive medium to shoot a film. “It’s a super tool,” says film-maker Q, “and Tangerine was fucking killer. So, like all tools, it will be amazing if you can use it. I have not used it for a film yet, but love to toy with it. I’m waiting for Apple to give me many phones, so I can research and dig deep,” he smiles cheekily. Even for actors, the sense of intimidation that comes with a film camera is removed, and shooting in crowded spaces becomes very easy. Sharma shot at the weekly Mahim fair in Mumbai and the thickly populated slums of Dharavi without attracting any attention, which would be unthinkable for a regular film crew. Homi Adajania agrees. “It’s great. It makes film-making democratic and available to all, and this kind of accessibility increases the competition and in turn leads to a higher level of quality. Also, you need to prioritise on the narrative, which warrants maximum importance when trying to tell a story.”
All the video gear and accessories iPhone filmmaking needs.
These cases and handles help stabilize shots and get a good grip on your phone during high action shots. Preferable for motion shooting.
Get yourself the whole kit of various lenses, ranging from primes, wides, fish eyes to telephotos.
For perfect audio capture, these are your best friends, especially outdoors.
There are a wide array of tripods available these days for steady shots and slider requirements.
From backpack sliders to skateboards, you will forget the trolley and track set up after you have worked with one of these bad boys.