The iPhone Film Festival will host a screening and Q&A this Friday evening at Macworld | iWorld with an international group of filmmakers who go beyond using their iPhones to capture a pet's adorable antics or a favorite song at a concert -- these filmmakers see their phones as a tool to tell a story. More than 800 films have been submitted to the festival, with the requirement that the film’s footage was shot entirely on an iPhone. A select group of filmmakers will be debuting their new films, and their festival-winning shorts will be screening as well.
Since the iPhone introduced video recording as a feature, a new breed of independent filmmaking has emerged. The short films highlighted at the festival exhibit a lushness that belies the diminutive size of the camera the footage was shot on. With the introduction of 720p HD video recording in the iPhone 4, and subsequently 1080p in the iPhone 4S, filmmakers can shoot high-quality footage on a shoe-string budget. Furthermore, many accessories, such as lens attachments and camera stands, are available for the iPhone, adding to the filmmaking capabilities of the device and allowing for different effects and steadier shooting.
The low cost of the iPhone in comparison to professional cameras, along with its ease of use, is enabling relative newcomers to express their cinematic ambitions. Luis Meises, of Spain, won first place in the second iPhone Film Festival (or IFF2) with his short film “The Fixer.” He himself was one such newcomer when he got behind the iPhone lens at the age of 37. “I have always loved movies and I always wanted to be a film-maker, but I never decided to do it. There was always some reason, [such as] work, time.” Meises said. “Well, now is the right time.”
Craig, an American filmmaker who will be debuting his new film “Isobel and the Witch” at the event, echoed Meises on the accessibility of the iPhone. “I have been wanting to make films for many, many years and have even worked as a sound recordist, boom operator and composer for a few independent films,” he said. “But I could never afford the equipment myself to do my own films.” That is, until the iPhone came along.
Perkins was impressed by the filming capabilities of the iPhone. “At first, I considered the use of the iPhone as just an entry into filmmaking,” Perkins admitted, “but now that I have worked more with the iPhone, I can see its place alongside general filmmaking.”
You want another advantage of the iPhone as a video camera? “You can get the iPhone into places you couldn't with other ‘professional’ cameras,” suggested Perkins.
When asked about the potential of the iPhone in the hands of filmmakers, Meises was optimistic. “With the iPhone, everyone can be a filmmaker,” he shared. “Maybe not make enough money for a living, but it's a good way to express yourself. All you need is a good idea and a lot of dedication and passion.”
Perkins calls the emergence of the iPhone as a credible filmmaking device “an important seachange,” adding that “it evens the playing field for everybody.”
Wonsuk Chin is a veteran filmmaker from Korea, and his iPhone film tribute toentitled “992” will be premiering at the conference. Chin remains levelheaded about the iPhone’s current role as filmmaking equipment. “Although the quality of the iPhone camera is excellent, it still has a long way to go to replace professional film or HD cameras,” he offered. “Most of all, it's meant to be a phone with a great camera, not the other way around.”
But then there’s the fact that cameras have gotten more sophisticated with each iPhone iteration. Noting this, Chin envisions a brave new world for the filmmaking industry. “I know [the iPhone] will improve. Someday, it will be good enough for theatrical exhibition. Then, maybe you won't need theatrical distribution to reach your audience.”
The iPhone Film Festival is a testament to the fact that the barrier of entry into filmmaking is at an all-time low. With any luck, the festival’s screenings on Friday will encourage others to unleash their inner pocket-Scorsese.
The iPhone Film Festival reception will be held at Moscone Center West at 7pm on Friday, 27th.
For more of Allvoices' coverage of Macworld | iWorld 2012, check out allvoices.com/macworld2012.