I was asked a very interesting question yesterday during the Q/A for Romance in NYC, “Have you ever considered not telling an audience they are watching a film on an iPhone?”
I have actually thought about this a lot now that I have created multiple iPhone shorts. What I told him was the most honest truth; when I first set out to create Romance in NYC I had no intention of submitting to as many festivals as I did. I created this project because it held a very special place in my heart and I wanted to share that series of “moments” I had experienced in my life or wanted to in one complete day that made up Romance in NYC. I was extremely nervous coming from the upbringing that the more attachments you had on the camera the more serious you were taken, owning prosumer cameras and such and always wanting the best. So to say I wasn’t nervous about creating a full short film on a mobile device is an understatement. But I was convinced this would be the perfect medium to portray something so intimate. As someone just told me at the festival it reminded them of a Love Letter if it was being filmed instead of written. A beautiful metaphor. But as I edited and cut, I decided to put “Shot on iPhone 6” within the first 30 seconds of titles.
I was nervous that people might look at it differently if they saw it created on a mobile device. However as I have gotten to know more mobile film makers and gone to multiple festivals for my films created on mobile devices I have realized this is the age of the story(also said by a Judge at the Mobile Motion Film Festival). We have the tech in our pockets to tell those stories and it doesn’t matter if it is 1080p or 4k a story is a story.
So yes I have thought back and considered removing it from the beginning and perhaps just leaving at the end as a surprise or not at all. But on the complete flip side of this, I think it is important right now as mobile film creation is making a name for itself as a valid form of filmmaking to let people know. It lets people look at the film and consider shooting on different mediums and gives them promise that they don’t need a 50k setup to be successful. It allows them to watch it with a critical eye and see there is nothing to be afraid of! It allows them to see what a mobile device is capable of. I say it over and over again, that Filmmaking 101 still applies to any film, but the creativity needed due to the limitations of shooting on a mobile device are really pros because it spurs that creativity on how to achieve a shot in a unique and new way. It just happens to be a time where the best camera really is the one you have with you. Sure you might have a project that requires an Arris or RED and it shouldn’t be turned down just to be edgy, but if you have a project that fits the iPhone than why the hell not. You have no excuse now not to tell your story if that is what you want to do.
So having to answer that question out loud I don’t think I would change the fact that I reveal it was shot on an iPhone right off the bat because it truly sets the tone for aspiring filmmakers that you can achieve anything you put your mind to with any medium and especially that the mobile film making movement is viable and important to the industry.
Perhaps as mobile filmmaking gets more advanced and mainstream it won’t be necessary, but right now it is important to promote this movement. I am just proud to had such an amazing team with all my films thus far and to have been able to successfully execute a film of this type with a mobile device.
Watching it on the big srceen I am constantly shocked at how good it looks. It is crystal clear, but if that story isn’t there, it is the same thing as shooting on a RED or Prosumer camera, pretty images. But it can be so much more and now you can do it with a such smaller footprint. I remember have OCD attacks in low light seeing the grain, but I have been told many times, “Wow it looked just like film”. It is like watching a movie you saw as a child again at an older age and it still holds up regardless of it not being 4k or shot with a new age camera.
As I continue forward with mobile filmmaking I am constantly working with companies like Grip Gear and Beast Grip to push the limitations of mobile devices further. So I am excited for the day when I don’t feel it necessary to say it was shot on an iPhone, but for now I enjoy sharing that small bit of information for those who may feel like they can’t tell their story because their tech isn’t up to par. Because in the end if your story is strong and you know how to manipulate your medium for filming, iPhone or RED, your film will captivate your audience because we all go to the movies for that suspension of disbelief and all of these mediums allow that to happen. So take your phone out of your pocket more and start filming!
It is the “apple” versus “android”, “mac” vs “pc”, Car vs Car responses every time when you try to explain your choice of using a mobile device. Either someone is so set in the ways of it having to be shot on a red that they don’t understand the reason we chose a mobile device or they are interested in knowing more so they themselves can delve into it. This is an exciting time and as long as you are excited to share your story, pull that phone out of your pocket and start filming!