Smartphones: The Future of Filmmaking - Raindance

Smartphones: The Future of FilmmakingNext year marks the 30th anniversary of the mobile phone. The Motorola Dynatac became the first ever mobile phone to be released commercially in 1984 and we haven’t looked back since. In these 29 years technology has greatly improved and now we incorporate every single aspect of our lives into them.

Now as the 30th year approaches, they are not just phones anymore but multimedia devices. They can do anything like connect to the internet, play music, play films and play games. You can even take pictures, record, edit and publish a video on your phone. Without ever having to spend time transferring all the rushes to another device! So this made me think.

So here is a round up of the best films made with a mobile phone that have somehow broken into the mainstream!

  1. SMS Sugar Man” (2006)

Filmmaking on mobile phones certainly isn’t a new concept. The first film to ever be shot on one was a film called “SMS Sugar Man” in 2006 (when cameras were first being introduced to phones). As far as I know, the film only exists now in screenshots and stories. These shots aren’t of fantastic quality but it marked the start of a new way to look at filmmaking.









2. “Why didn’t anybody tell me it would become this bad in Afghanistan?” (English title) (2007)

The first feature shot on a mobile phone. This film tells the story of a Dutch war veteran who recalls his experience of the War in Afghanistan and how he copes with it. It documents tensions between native Dutch citizens, immigrant youths and the police…all holed up in a small part of Amersterdam.

A clip of the film can be found here:

The very poor quality camera benefits the film greatly as it gives it a stark realism. I get the feeling that I wouldn’t be feeling the way I am if it was made using

It was moderately successful, becoming the first film of its kind to play at festivals; Premiering at festivals including, Rotterdam, Tribeca, San Francisco, Pesaro and many others.


3. “Olive” (2011, Hooman Khalili)

It was inevitable that someone will take advantage of the new technology and rekindle an experiment started all those years ago. Eventually, headlines were made in December 2011 when the first feature film ever to be shot on a smartphone was released to cinemas. “Olive” ,was shot entirely using a Nokia N8 attached to a 35mm lens adapter for “shallow depth of field”

Clearly, the filmmakers have done a fantastic job with this. The first 5 minutes in the footage above looks like any other film I have seen. The picture is so crisp and clear making you forget that it was filmed on a smartphone.

4. “Searching for Sugarman” (2012, Malik Bendjelloul)

Those of you who watched this years Oscar ceremony will recognise this next film. This years winner of the Best Documentary Feature category, “Searching for Sugarman”, shot mostly using an expensive 8mm camera.

However, some scenes using an iPhone equipped with the “8mm Vintage Camera App”, which costs just £1.49 in the App Store. The reason behind this was not to be groundbreaking but simply, the movie ran out of funding before the film was completed. So the director Malik Bendjelloul downloaded the app, completed the film and added the iPhone footage to the documentary.

Searching For Sugarman Trailer


So those were just a few examples of what is sure to be the next step in filmmaking. Today’s smartphones come with great cameras that can rival any expensive camera. With each new smartphone that comes on the market, the camera is almost always improved upon. As well as this there are many different apps you can download to enhance this experience, as the makers of “Searching for Sugarman” found out. Thanks to all of this amazing software, it is now possible to shoot, edit and even share your film just by using your phone.

In 2003, Raindance created the Nokia Shorts, a competition specifically aimed at films made on mobile phones.

So if you have a smartphone and an idea for a film. You can begin your path down the long and winding road of filmmaking now.