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The World’s First Cell Phone Feature Film
Micki Krimmel, 25 Feb 06

smssugarman.jpgI’m a few weeks behind on reporting this but I thought it was worth mentioning briefly anyway. Early this year, production wrapped on the first ever feature film to be shot entirely with cell phone cameras. Directed by South African filmmaker, Aryan Kaganof, “SMS Sugar Man” is the story of a pimp and two high class prostitutes driving around Johannesburg on Christmas Eve. It was shot for less than 1 million rand ($164,000) in just twelve days.

Johannesburg’s Sunday Times’ Ryan Fortune heralds the film as a perfect example of leap-frogging. The director tells him, “We are re-writing the book on cinema here, Ryan, things will never be the same again. From now onwards, all you’ll need [to make a film] is a good idea, a cellphone, a laptop and you’re off. It opens up a whole world of possibilities for African filmmakers ...”

“SMS Sugar Man” was shot with only available light and a very small crew. The cheap medium allowed for a very loose shooting style, with multiple cameras constantly rolling, freeing the actors to experiment and improvise. But how does the film look? Kaganof tells CNet the footage looked “fabulous” when blown up to 35mm. And he should know. Kaganof is the first filmmaker to ever blow up digital video to 35mm film with his 1996 movie “Wasted!”

“SMS Sugar Man” is set to debut in May. The filmmakers plan to pursue a collapsed release window strategy, making the film available on multiple platforms simultaneously - in theaters, on DVD and television, on the internet, and of course, on cell phones.

Sony Ericsson sponsored the film by providing W900i cell phones, which are not yet commercially available in South Africa. When the W900i debuts in South Africa, every handset will come pre-packaged with a trailer for SMS Sugar Man.

Check out Kaganof’s blog for updates.

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Comments

"From now onwards, all you’ll need [to make a film] is a good idea, a cellphone, a laptop and you’re off. "

You need all of that plus $164,000 dollars! Seems like a ton of money considering Kevin Smith shot Clerks in 1994 for $27,000. I realize inflation might make direct budget comparisons inaccurate but Kevin Smith certainly deserves credit for producing a classic film with a much lower budget.

While 'SMS Sugar Man' might be an example of using unique video tech, it's certainly not a model of economic efficiency. Aspiring film-makers should look to Smith as an example... no matter what technology you're using, you can make a great movie if you devote enough personal energy to it. You don't need alot of money or cool gadets... mostly you need hard work and creative writing.


Posted by: Matt Perry on 26 Feb 06

Hallo Britta
Hast Du schon davon gehört? Das wär doch ein Superding für Locarno,ein Spielfilm ausschliesslich gedreht mit Handycameras! was meinst Du?

Gruss. Alex


Posted by: Britta on 26 Feb 06



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