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Pocket film – making movies on your phone

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Wired has a piece on Masaki Fujihata’s Pocket Film Festival.

“A good pocket film means recording personal happenings, or someone’s personal way of observing the world,” he says. “Normally people try to imitate the big Hollywood films but to make a really good short pocket film make sure [you] start collecting many images. A month or so later you can start to edit them and see what you did.”

Fujihata invited two winners from the 2007 festival, Daisuke Kobayashi and Toru Oyama, along to show me the techniques. I brought along an INQ1 from 3 – a phone whose USP is that it’s wired specifically for uploading content straight onto the internet.

BankArt NYK, an art space on Yokohama’s quayside, is their chosen set. The only limitations they are given are to keep the scenes in the shoot to no more than five. Simplicity is key. It is that method that helped them claim the Grand Prix for their street film 720/24 – as in 720 minutes in 24 hours – two years ago.

They use time as the theme for this masterclass too. “It is now 12.08,” Toru declares as Daisuke, bedecked in fur flying hat and goatee beard, pinches the cameraphone between thumb and forefinger and spins it about like the hands on a clock. As each minute passes, the camera will turn to signify the passing of time. This method, using images from their native Tokyo and showing council estates, playgrounds, subway stations and other urban imagery, is what won them the big prize.

In BankArt NYK they home in on the minutiae of the concrete mausoleum. Pieces of art, the LED lift indicator, the lift doors closing and even a bus parked on the dockside for variety.

They never shoot anything more than a few metres away. That range is the camera’s best operating environment. “The good point of making a movie with a mobile phone is that the people making it and the people watching it are very near each other,” they advise. “Normally, if you’re using a regular camera then the distance between the viewers and the cameraman is very far away.” They make the most of each other’s movement and Daisuke includes Toru in his clips.

Toru gives me another tip: keep the clips short and simple. Some pocket film-makers shoot with the phones only for the imagery to be viewed on a cinema screen. Not these guys. What they see through the phone’s screen is exactly how and what they want their audience to see.


Written by Mira Vogel

April 16, 2009 at 12:09