When it comes to movie-making, we’ve been led to believe productions need to spend thousands of dollars on top-of-the-line equipment for a movie to have a shot at being successful. Well, that’s not necessarily true anymore. While most modern movies still use expensive equipment, there are more experimental shooting methods that have started to find success in recent years. Here are some of the non-traditional filming techniques that have gained recognition in recent years:
The movie Unsane, which recently hit theaters, is gaining public attention as it was solely filmed using an iPhone camera. The film follows a young woman who is trying to escape a stalker and ends up questioning her own sanity. This is hardly the first successful film to use the iPhone technique, but the film’s release has people turning their attention to the iPhone as a possible future for film. The film was made using an iPhone 7 camera and was shot over the period of just 10 days.
One movie that’s recognized as pioneering this movement is the 2015 film, Tangerine. This was the first film shot entirely using an iPhone camera, specifically the iPhone 5s. Reportedly, the film had a very tiny budget to work with, but when it premiered in 2015 it received critical acclaim. According to The Verge, James Ransone, an actor in the film, said making a good film isn’t about having the proper equipment, but rather understanding film as a whole. According to Ransone, “You still need to know how editing works. You still need to know how sound works. You still need to know how a camera works. You can’t just go out and shoot. Yes, you can make a beautiful-looking film on a shoestring budget. But you have to know 100 years worth of filmmaking.”
Drones are being used more frequently in film as a way of acquiring unique aerial shots from lower heights than a helicopter could achieve. One film that used this technique was the 2012 film Skyfall, becoming the first James Bond movie to use drones for aerial footage. Flying-Cam Drones were used in the opening shot as James Bond chases a terrorist across a rooftop of the Grand Bazaar on a motorbike.
Another recent film that utilized this technique was the 2014 film The Expendables 3, which used drones to capture high-intensity action sequences. They shot a total of 30 scenes in the film using drones, including the opening sequence. On the subject, Ziv Marom, ZM Interactive’s pilot and owner, said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter: “We flew right next to a train and helicopter. We shot everything from chasing tanks to explosions to flying over buildings and motorcycle jumps. We can also do shots that a real helicopter can’t do. We can do lower altitudes.”
Other well-known films that used drones to capture significant wide shots include Captain America: Civil War and Jurassic World.
One of the more interesting films that was made using exclusively GoPros is the documentary Leviathan. It is interesting, in part, because this wasn’t actually a deliberate choice, but rather an accident. The filmmakers Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verene Paravel originally set out on a sea voyage with the intent make a niche documentary about life on a fishing vessel. What they didn’t account for was all of their equipment being swept overboard shortly after they set sail.
In an attempt to salvage their project, each of the crew members strapped on a GoPro camera. They also strapped GoPros to everything from the fishing equipment to actual fish. The downside to this was that they couldn’t see what they were recording, so there was the risk that they’d spend all this time at sea and come home without any valuable footage. The film they ended up with was a chilling first person perspective that included a brush with death, violent sea sickness, and even one of the filmmakers being hospitalized.
Documentaries aren’t the only films that have adopted the GoPro style. The 2015 movie The Martian starring Matt Damon used a total of 28 GoPro Cameras on set, to get several different angles. There’s also the movie Hardcore Henry, the world’s first action movie solely filmed using a GoPro. The plot begins with a man waking up in a Moscow laboratory and learning he’s been brought back to life as a half-human, half-robot hybrid. The GoPro style filming lets the viewer experience this action thriller as Henry, rather than through Henry. Though the film didn’t receive critical acclaim, it was well-received by the public as 93% of Google users liked the movie.
All in all, this movement is causing a big change in the movie industry- hopefully for the better. These new filming methods give people who may not otherwise have the means the ability to create beautiful works of art. So movie on over, big shots. The little guys can go pro, too.