I wrote about this new fringe movement in the low-budget digital revoltion in a blog post awhile ago and it looks like it's continuing to pick up steam. A cell phone is no longer just a cell phone it's a mobile communication and media device. (The phone industry is partial to the term, "Mobile Device", so I'll give them that, given that these days they really are much more functional than mere phones.)
As you read this, a select number of filmmakers are experimenting with shooting their projects on cell phones. Obviously, the quality of much of these videos is at You Tube level on a good day, but image quality is always improving and the trade off is complete flexibility, super-stealth shooting, ultra-light weight, and complete spontaneity. (I feel like making a movie- right now, right here!)
I haven't actually done any myself, but I imagine that it's a very liberating way to work without all the constraints and extra attention required when shooting with standard video cameras. I imagine the other attraction seems to be the ability to quickly and easily share those digital video bits and bytes by zapping them through the airwaves instantly to your friends (and subscribers?) cell phones or possibly even an editor on stand-by if you're shooting in a remote location.
The possibilities are definitely wide-open for new ways of working and gaining easier video access to more dangerous or elusive subject matter. (Think P.E.T.A. animal-cruelty stings, war coverage, surveillance, forbidden locations, etc.)
Narrative filmmakers are also testing the waters to experiment with new ways to tell visual stories, including Spike Lee, who is working on a promotion with Nokia where filmmakers like YOU can upload their video to a site for review by Spike and assistant directors who will ultimately choose a few select clips from the whole bunch to piece together a larger film on the subject of "humanity". Anyway, you can get a more complete description of this experiment from this NY Times article and the Nokia Productions website.
Want More Info on Cell Phone Cinema? Check these out:
Karl Bardosh, is one of my colleagues at NYU and he wrote the just released, "Complete Idiot's Guide to Digital Video". He is also the author of an upcoming book on Cell Phone Cinema which he is credited with introducing to India. Here's some more words about the topic on his website: Cell Phone Cinema Essay
Here's a music video for the song "Stunning" by 8mm. It was shot by the singer herself on her cell phone. (I hope the record companies don't get any ideas about budgeting music videos from this clip!)
And here's a video tutorial on how to shoot and upload video from your cell phone onto YouTube: