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Last Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006, 17:33 GMT
Pocket movies take France by storm
David Reid
By David Reid
Click reporter

Eiffel Tower, Paris
France has long had a love affair with film-making
Paris is arguably the most photogenic city in the world. The setting for countless movies, the French capital has been filmed from every angle and in every style.

In fact, so many films have been shot here that there is an organisation which collects them, even those movies in which Paris has played just a passing role.

With digital technology and camera phones putting moving pictures within everyone's grasp, Paris's Forum des Images has got its work cut out.

Last year it held a festival dedicated to the latest craze in Paris film circles - the pocket movie. These are films shot on mobile phones and the results are often startling.

Laurence Herszberg, director of Forum Des Images, says: "Using a mobile phone gives you more freedom with the people acting and your relationship as a film-maker to your actors.

"Because even when I am doing videos, I have the video camera between you and me.

"When you are using a mobile phone it is very free: nothing between us, no screen, we can look at each other. It is more freedom and it expresses more freedom."

New priorities

Pocket movies are often intimate and engaging, and because mobile phones can go anywhere the camera gets a licence to roam. You can film on a bike, or shoot the rush-hour crush; one director has even filmed herself voting.

With images snatched from real life, the pictures are rough and ready, so you are not going to win any awards for picture quality. So much so that it is often the sound that sells the story.

Image from L'Homme qui Aimait les Fleurs by Jean-Claude Taki
Picture quality is not deemed as important as sound quality
Benoît Labourdette, the organiser of Festival Pocket Films, says: "If you look at a movie with a very bad picture and good sound, you'll feel you are in front of a professional movie.

"But if you look at a movie with a very clean picture but very bad sound you feel this is an amateur movie."

So, in fact, we watch movies with our ears. And while the soundtrack tells us what to think about what we see, it is the edit that is all important.

The ability to film on your feet means that the process of movie-making is turned on its head. The pocket movie motto is "shoot first, ask questions later".

Film director Jean-Claude Taki says: "These days the process is more after the fact.

"By that I mean that we don't make out a storyboard and organise the filming beforehand, but we start with the filming which is something which becomes part of your life that you do whenever you want, then we edit.

"And all the time you can film stuff for the edit and that's how the film is constructed."

Revolutionary style?

One pocket movie pays homage to the Lumière brothers, the Frenchmen who invented cinema.

France has been stuck on films ever since, and its talent for film-making is to make it look as easy as a moody walk in the woods.

Today's film-making is available to more people
Stéphane Galienni, director
France has spawned cinematic movements like the New Wave where, if actors fluffed their lines, the director would just jump cut in the middle of a scene.

It saved them plenty of money on film-stock, but it also became a stylistic innovation.

So what revolution is the mobile phone going to bring?

Director Stéphane Galienni says: "In contrast to the 60s generation with the super-8, today's filmmaking is available to more people. It is similar but this is for a new generation that spends more time on the internet.

"For me this is a tool that allows you to show people what you've got.

"In France we have a movement called vlog, a contraction between blog and video, which allows us take shots and film situations and immediately put them online."

Many pocket movie-makers like the pixelated look and washed out colours they get from mobile phones.

While phone manufacturers themselves are doing their best to improve picture quality, the makers of these miniature masterpieces are happy for the technology to advance at a slower, more artistic pace.

Festival celebrates mobile phone movies
06 Oct 05 |  Entertainment

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