Essential Smartphone Filmmaking Accessories
Smartphone filmmaking is a growing trend that the industry can no longer ignore. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of all American adults currently use a smartphone, and the video capabilities of these devices are growing at an outstanding rate (Aldredge 2017). Smartphones are becoming more serious contenders in documentary filmmaking with a new iteration. They’re small, lightweight, and packed with tons of useful features (Simpson 2017).
As smartphones have grown increasingly common in recent years, these devices have taken on a central role in the information lives of a substantial number of Americans (Smith 2015). Traditional filmmakers may be skeptical, but with the advances in technology and a growing number of innovative smartphone accessories, the future of smartphone filmmaking is becoming more and more intriguing (Aldredge 2017).
Filmmakers first started using the smartphone to film in 2005; the following year Italian directors, Marcello Mencarini and Barbara Seghezzi released a feature-length doc, “New Love Meetings (Comizi d’Amore),” shot in MPEG-4 with a mobile phone. In 2007, South African director Aryan Kaganof released “SMS Sugar Man,” a feature-length narrative shot using the Sony Ericsson W900i. In 2011, directors Hooman Khalili and Pat Gilles released the feature, “Olive,” shot on a Nokia N8, and Korean director Chan-Wook Park released the award-winning short, “Paranmanjang (Night Fishing).” Last year’s Oscar-winning documentary, Malik Bendjelloul’s “Searching for Sugar Man,” integrated 8mm film and iPhone video (Rosen 2014).
Then last year, director Brian Kowalchuk announced that he plans to shoot “Ode,” a feature-length movie, on an iPhone and under a SAG-AFTRA Ultra Low Budget production contract. “I have directed five plays, largely under the auspices of Equity’s Seat Theater Plan in New York and Los Angeles,” he says. He also produced and directed “The Billy Armstrong Situation,” a narrative feature shot with Super 16mm and some supplemental digital video footage; it’s currently in post (Rosen 2014).
Smartphones are becoming smarter, faster, cheaper, better accessorized and with a ton of apps, and more capable when it comes to shooting video. If you are on a tight budget or no budget at all, a smartphone might be the smart option (Loggie 2017). It’s an ultra-low-cost medium. It’s easy to use. It also offers a sense of immediacy — you can do away with crew or shoot surreptitiously. It turns anyone into an amateur filmmaker — but as the smartphone is being adopted by professional filmmakers, it’s fostering a new aesthetic (Rosen 2014).