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South Korean film director debuts his latest big screen tool: the iPhone.

Top South Korean film director Park Chan-wook shot a 33-minute film using Apple iPhones for cameras. His producer says the iPhone opens doors for artists on tight budgets.

By Donald KirkCorrespondent / February 2, 2011

South Korean director Park Chan-wook speaks during an interview with Reuters in Goyang, north of Seoul, Jan. 12. Prize-winning South Korean director Park's latest film, 'Night Fishing,' has created a buzz in his native country – it was filmed using using eight iPhone 4 cameras.

Truth Leem/Reuters


Seoul, South Korea

South Korean film director Park Chan-wook thinks he’s found the way to get around the high cost of making a movie. He’s shot a 33-minute film using Apple iPhones for cameras.

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Called "Paramanjang," literally “Ups and Downs,” the film opens with a grisly scene of a man pulled into a river and drowning while fishing at night – hence the English title, "Night Fishing” – and devolves into a fantasy of life, death, life after death, and spiritual relief.

Park has earned a reputation as one of Korea’s most renowned directors, but "Paramanjang" may go down in cinema history for reasons that have nothing to do with its tightly constructed plot or the impassioned performances of the two leading actors, the fisherman or the woman who came to embody his soul.

The difference between Paramanjang and every other feature film on big screens in movie theaters is that it’s the first iPhone movie ever shown commercially – and on a budget that should make it the envy of independent moviemakers and cinema students everywhere. The total cost was less than $150,000 – most of that for conventional sound and lighting, plus digital editing.

“ 'Night Fishing' is in various aspects a new movie,” says Mr. Park, citing “the fact that iPhones were the shooting medium, that it is a 30-minute short film, and the the story is unfamiliar and new.”

Ten Korean theaters, five in Seoul and five in other large cities, are offering the film on an experimental basis, but producer Jeon Won-jo is convinced that’s just the beginning. “It opens doors for a lot of people,” he says. “It’s democratization. It allows students and independent filmmakers another very useful option.”

Park warns, however, that the technique of shooting by iPhone does not necessarily mean the whole process is easier than normal filmmaking. “The size and scale of the movie is the same as a regular movie,” he says in one of several interviews shown right after the credits for the film. “It’s just that the camera was smaller.”

Park quickly discovered, while using eight iPhone 4 cameras in two months of shooting, that the only real difference between making this film and a film with conventional cameras is the drastic reduction in costs.

“I thought I could play with the camera,” he says, “but it was the same as making a regular movie. It takes just as much work as using normal cameras.”


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