Back To Top

iPhone becomes cinematic medium

From visual voicemail to a portable media player and an Internet client, the iPhone has been serving the international public as a great multi-tasker with its revolutionary, diverse functionalities.

The small handheld device has now arguably made another step, as Korea’s highly acclaimed director Park Chan-wook and his brother Park Chan-kyong ― a renowned media artist ― revealed their latest collaborative short film, “Night Fishing,” shot entirely with the iPhone 4.

The piece tells a story about a middle-aged man (Oh Gwang-rok) who accidentally catches a young female shaman (Lee Jung-hyun) from a reservoir while fishing at night.
Actress Lee Jung-hyun stars as a female shaman in “Night Fishing,” director Park Chan-wook and his brother Park Chan-kyong’s newly released experimental short film shot entirely with iPhone 4. (PR One)
Actress Lee Jung-hyun stars as a female shaman in “Night Fishing,” director Park Chan-wook and his brother Park Chan-kyong’s newly released experimental short film shot entirely with iPhone 4. (PR One)

Though shot with the iPhone, the piece surprisingly delivers rather aesthetic mise-en-scenes as well as Park’s signature vivid colors, exploring the theme of life and death while providing a rare glimpse into Korea’s shamanic culture.

“In the beginning I thought I’d make the piece for fun, without much pressure,” Park said at a premiere of his movie Monday.

“But the scale of the movie became a lot bigger than what I’d expected.”
Director Park Chan-wook grins at a premiere of his new film “Night Fishing” at CGV Yongsan on Monday. (Yonhap News)
Director Park Chan-wook grins at a premiere of his new film “Night Fishing” at CGV Yongsan on Monday. (Yonhap News)

Speaking of the scale, the Park brothers did not make the movie with just two iPhones in their hands. On top of the phones, the Parks used lighting facilities and extra DSLR lenses, and other production equipment which were far from simple.

The production cost of the 30-minute piece totaled 150 million won ($ 133,000) and was partly funded by KT Corp., the only local distributor of the iPhone in Korea.

Having sold more than 1.8 million sets in the country, the telecommunication provider last year threw a film festival that featured 12 short cinematic pieces shot solely by the iPhone.

“I’ve always worked with big capital when making movies and there’s nothing new about it,” said Park, when asked about his new movie being “too commercial” because of its ties with KT Corp.

“I think our new movie can be a successful example of what happens when art and a corporation that hadn’t done anything with making movies do something together.”

The film, throughout its running time, switches back and forth between color and black and white. The night scenes ― shot in black and white ― as well as underwater scenes reveal rough screen texture.

“It was both the iPhone and my artistic judgment,” said Park. “The iPhone had its own limits and the rough texture, to a certain degree, was unavoidable. But I could’ve fixed it with other equipment and more lighting, of course. I left it the way it was because I thought the texture went well with the theme of death.”

Park Chan-kyong, on the other hand, said the most convenient part of filming with the iPhone is its compact size. “Because we were able to film with many phones at the same time,” Park said, “we could get more creative angles and options for editing.”

Though “Night Fishing” is far from being low-budget production, Park Chan-wook said he thinks it is still possible to make quality films with the iPhone with less money.

“If a student who has no money wants to make a 10-minute-piece solely with the iPhone,” Park said, “I think she or he can do it with one-tenth of the money we used.”

“Night Fishing” will be released in nine theaters across the country for four days starting Jan. 27.

By Claire Lee (clairelee@heraldcorp.com)
MOST POPULAR