It was in 2012, that the late filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul released the first feature-length film that was shot entirely on the iPhone: the Academy Award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man. More recently, it was the drama Tangerine that create a hullaballoo at the Sundance film festival.
Anyone would think that documentaries need to be shot on more expensive and professional cameras, yet these documentary makers proved otherwise. Take a good look at some of these documentaries and how smartphones are changing the filmmaking game one documentary at a time.
A Woman’s Epic Journey to Climb 7 Mountains
RYOT, in association with Apple, has come out with one of the most stunning pieces of documentary you would ever see; the surprising thing to note here is, the entire documentary has been shot on iPhone 6S.
The short documentary is called, A Woman’s Epic Journey to Climb 7 Mountains—Shot on a Phone and it follows in the footsteps of the National Geographic Emerging Explorer and Adventurer of the Year Wasfia Nazreen as she has made a place in history books.
Wasfia's feat is commendable and applause-worthy in that she is the first Bangladeshi to climb up the Seven Summits: the highest peaks of the 7 continents. This includes Everest, Denali, and Kilimanjaro. She did this to prove a point and show the world what is her country is capable of, especially setting an example before the world. The doc was shot completely on the iPhone 6S; it found its way into the list of National Geographic’s Short Film Showcase.
The Painter of Jalouzi
Just a couple of weeks after Apple announced the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, there were many short films shot on it. One of the documentaries includes The Painter of Jalouzi denoting the story of Jalouzi, which is the largest slums in Haiti, who wanted to add some color to the natives living in the town. He wanted to use his paintbrush to change the lives of all citizens and change Haiti into a better place. It became one of the first smartphone short documentaries which were shot in 4K. It led to the making of many such iPhone documentaries.
People & Power — Syria: Songs of Defiance
Al Jazeera English is airing a war documentary that was shot entirely on the iPhone. Syria: Songs of Defiance, which premiered on the People and Power program. It had iPhone footage that was brought out clandestinely from a country ripped apart by war. An anonymous Al Jazeera reporter, whose name was kept under wraps shot the film throughout Syria way back in 2012.
The documentary was a testament to the ugly side of the Syrian rebellion, it’s also proved that you can shoot an entire documentary on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S which makes for a compelling piece of film work. Not only the filming did not take away from what it tried to portray, but it also added value to the filmmaking and the scenes came out, gory, raw, and real, just how the reporter wanted them. The film has been appreciated all over and people couldn't help marvel at the gritty portrayal of a war-torn country.
Another critically-acclaimed documentary shot on the iPhone 5S, Bentley commissioned this branded short doc to flaunt their finer points and to prove to the world how they are marrying technology and luxury in their new car line. The video is all about a $300,000 Bentley shot on a $200 iPhone and although the production values may not be at the highest end, one look at it and you won't know that an expensive piece of the camera has not been used to film it.
The documentary revealed Bentley Mulsanne’s new iPad integration developed while collaborating with Apple. An iPhone 5S and a prototype Movi Freefly rig were used to shoot the video. It was edited on the iPad Air in the plush back seat of the Bentley.
Now, that you know such wonderful work can be accomplished with the help of your smartphone, would you like to try and put forward such work right before the audience. These documentaries have already shown the way for other people, proving if you have the will to do it, you do not need fancy equipment to accomplish your goal.