The acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh, the once-underdog who splashed onto the scene at Cannes and won the the Palme d’Or Award for his groundbreakingly honest Sex, Lies, and Videotape, the director who’s brought us Erin Brokovich, Traffic, and yes, Magic Mike, is making a film on an iPhone.
Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky, starring Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, and a bevy of other stars is being released this August. But there’s another film he’s been quietly working on for some time which had the working title Unsane. The whole project has been pretty hush-hush but it’s said to star Emmy nominee Claire Foy and Juno Temple. And just to make things even more interesting, Soderbergh seemes to be going pretty indie on this one. He’s distributing the film himself through his company Fingerprint Releasing.
Details on the film are scarce but Soderbergh’s choice to shoot on an iPhone tells us even monied, acclaimed directors see something in the technology. Perhaps shooting on the iPhone is a purely creative choice, one that provides an aesthetic appeal or quality Soderbergh couldn’t find elsewhere. Perhaps it’s simply a challenge or an exploration. To date, Sean Baker’s Tangerine has been the most high profile film shot on the iPhone and has proved to be a well-received, profitable endeavor. Maybe Soderbergh wants to put that model to the test. Who’s to say?
What we do know is that as technology becomes increasingly affordable and accessible more and more films will be shot on iPhones and other smart phones. The cost of gear has previously been a deterrant for aspiring filmmakers. Now that we have the world’s most famous directors embracing the new, the barriers of yesterday are being obliterated and we can be thankful for that (and take advantage of it!).
That Soderbergh is the first major film director to embrace the iPhone as a moviemaking tool shouldn’t surprise us too much. He’s been making films for more than 30 years and, try as one might, he’s one auteur who resists being pigeonholed. He doesn’t do weird for weirdness sake, nor does he play it safe. Rather, Soderbergh is a director who seeks to bring the story to light in the best possible way, using the best possible mediums to tell the stories he’s instrumental in telling. By shooting on the iPhone, Soderbergh’s move makes it possible for newcoming filmmakers to feel undeterred from making their movies anyway they can and to potentially have those movies taken seriously by media, critics, and the press.
The bet’s on Unsane being a compelling film that gets us, as viewers, involved in its story. All of Soderbergh’s films do. So, take the director’s choice to shoot on an iPhone as inspiration. If you want to make a movie, make a movie! But, please oh please, make it a good and interesting one. Remember, the tenets of good filmmaking still apply. Tell a great story as well as you can and make us feel it to the bone.
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