How our phones might ruin filmmaking

 

I remember the first time my uncle described it to me: “the most gripping cinematic entrance of all time.” Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia, a speck moving slowly towards the camera, emerging from a mirage. The audience waiting, anticipating: “Who is this? Are they friend or foe?” Filmed in glorious 70mm, it's gone down as one of the most captivating moments of cinema history. But scenes like this could be a thing of the past, if cinematographers start adapting their filmmaking to mobile devices.

Apparently a staggering 45% of millennials prefer to watch video on their mobile device, rather than a laptop, desktop or TV. While companies like Netflix are a black box in terms of their data, BBC iPlayer's stats seem to suggest similar findings – and every train and tube I get is filled with folk watching series and films on their phones.

But if producers start adapting filmmaking for that audience, the change will not be for the best. Why? There's no room for subtlety on a 4-inch screen.

There's no room for subtlety on a 4-inch screen.

If filmmakers start adapting films and series for the small(est) screen, surely we risk losing some of their wonder and complexity. Hitchcock's Rear Window is a good case-in-point. The careful cinematography of that famous opening scene – camera pans slowly across the apartment windows, every meticulously crafted detail unfolding the story of a group of neighbours, and a sinister mystery at its heart – doesn't work when the screen 'real estate' is so small. The wonderful sets, with their careful complexity, can't possibly be properly appreciated on mobile.

Jeff Desom:    www.jeffdesom.com    // Currently on display at the    Museum of the Moving Image    in New York

Jeff Desom: www.jeffdesom.com // Currently on display at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York