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How these filmmakers used iPhone 15 Pro's cameras to shoot their short films

Directors mentor filmmakers for MAMI using iPhone 15 Pro Max. Anupama Chopra highlights iPhone's storytelling potential. Films explore immigration, memory loss, and fatherhood, emphasizing India's storytelling evolution through mobile technology.

19 Apr 2024

Acclaimed directors Vishal Bhardwaj, Vikramaditya Motwane, and Rohan Sippy are mentoring five emerging Indian filmmakers in a groundbreaking initiative by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI). These filmmakers are creating short films for the 2024 MAMI Select program, with a twist: they're all shot on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
"Filming with a non-traditional camera can be liberating," says Bhardwaj, whose own film Fursat was shot on iPhone 14 Pro."The results can surprise you if you go all out with your vision."
Anupama Chopra, director of the prestigious MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, emphasizes the program's aim to empower new voices. "MAMI Select — Filmed on iPhone is an important step in that direction," she says. "We're excited to showcase the storytelling potential of iPhone 15 Pro Max and the editing power of MacBook Pro with M3."

From Mountains to Deserts: Exploring Diverse Stories

Each filmmaker brings a unique style and story to the table. Saurav Rai, known for his film Gudh, returns to his roots in the Darjeeling mountains with Crossing Borders. This film explores themes of immigration and identity through the story of a woman who smuggles goods across the Indo-Nepalese border. Rai prioritizes simplicity, relying on iPhone's Cinematic Mode for depth of field and minimal equipment for a raw, authentic feel.

Archana Atul Phadke, a National Award winner, finds inspiration in the sounds of the desert for her film Mirage. The story follows a young boy who loses himself in the vastness after losing his iPhone. Phadke utilizes the iPhone's various lenses to create a visual contrast between the expansive landscape and the shrinking world of the protagonist. The smaller form factor of the iPhone also proves beneficial when working with child actors.


Memory, Milieu, and Mobile Magic

Faraz Ali, whose debut film Shoebox won Best Film at the New York Indian Film Festival, explores memory in his new project Óbur (Cloud). The tragicomedy follows a teenager who loses his phone and with it, precious memories of his ailing mother. Ali leverages the iPhone's ProRes video for color grading and captures ambient sound using the Voice Memos app.
Saumyananda Sahi, the cinematographer behind the acclaimed documentary All That Breathes, teams up with his wife Tanushree Das for A New Life. This short film explores themes of fatherhood and long-distance relationships through video calls between a migrant worker and his pregnant wife. Sahi embraces the iPhone's capabilities, treating it as a tool for real-time storytelling rather than simply a camera.
Capturing Complexities
Prateek Vats, whose film Eeb Allay Ooo! garnered critical attention, co-directs Jal Tu Jalal Tu (You Are Water, You Are the All-Powerful) with Shubham. Inspired by Chekhov's short story, the film delves into power dynamics in a factory setting. Vats utilizes the iPhone's 4:3 aspect ratio and precise color grading capabilities to capture the anxiety of the protagonist and the vibrant factory environment.
Vats believes iPhone filmmaking empowers a new generation of storytellers. "When anyone with a vision can make films," he says, "the storytelling potential of India will truly blossom."
The five short films will premiere on the MAMI YouTube channel on April 19, 2024, marking a significant step forward in the use of mobile technology for cinematic expression.


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