Why I chose to use an iPhone

Posted: April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

I think there are many good reasons a film maker would choose to use iPhone, or smartphones in general, to produce a film. Part of my reason for using iphones for this project was my that I thought it would allow me to gain a greater sense of intimacy. I wasn’t just a reporter who turned up for five minutes got some opinions and left again, I spent four days ingratiating myself into the group and explaining the purpose of my short film to them, to the point where they were more than happy to be part of it, because they believed it would benefit their cause. I was able to sit around the fire and have a conversation about the issues at hand, and any time I thought something was relevant to my film, I’d take out the phone and ask if they’d mind me filming them talking about that issue. One of my main regrets looking back on it at this stage is that I didn’t use microphones, Based on research I’ve done prior to the film, I now know that with a simple £18 wire, I could have attached the Sennheiser mics to the iphone and had far better sound quality. One thing I felt was a benefit while doing this, was something I didn’t plan for. There were several people in the camp who agreed to be filmed by me but hadn’t agreed to be filmed by the BBC crews the day before, Both of them said they felt less intimidated by my presence because I wasn’t backed by a whole crew and I didn’t have big cameras which they said they found intimidating. In the end I didn’t use the footage in question as they didn’t express views that I could have used in the angle I eventually went for, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that I gained valuable footage that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I also think the iPhone camera could become a must have piece of kit for the investigative journalist, as it’s possible to film or record sound very discreetly on a phone without drawing attention to oneself. For example, in 1999 Mark Thomas smuggled cameras into an arms fair in Athens to discredit a group of arms dealers, this must have been incredibly difficult. Cameras were strictly banned and his team had to very discreetly smuggle them in. All the filming they did was done using a camera hidden in a bag. Imagine how easily one could do something like this now days, with the size and manoeuvrability of mobile telephone cameras. 

I also thought it would be amazing to attempt to recreate the quality and precision one can achieve using an SLR with something as small as a phone. However, in the end I couldn’t procure a lens in time, as I only had a very limited amount of time for filming. I ended up having to use the iPhone camera on it’s own. This wasn’t ideal, but I felt that I got the bests quality possible with the resources I had at my disposal


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