Some of the world’s most legendary directors have voiced their concern about the viewing of films from a smartphone screen. When filmmakers create their offerings, they are designed with the silver screen in mind, first and foremost. Auteurs know that their films will later be watched on a smaller, television screen, and they can just about stomach this. Most would agree, though, that the smartphone is far from the ideal medium for viewing films. But with portable devices revolutionizing a number of other forms of entertainment, do filmmakers need to adapt to modern demands?
In a 2008 interview, David Lynch famously said that those who watch movies from a phone will never, “in a trillion years, experience the film.” The Mulholland Drive director said that anyone who felt the need to watch a film on a phone screen was cheating themselves. Indeed, he was incandescent with rage as he also seemed to view the concept as an insult to the filmmaker.
At the time of this statement, the idea of watching a film from a mobile device was a brand new prospect. However, in the years since then, smartphones have come a long way. Not only have the graphics and resolutions improved, but screens have also been made much larger than before. On top of that, wearable earphones help to generate a surround sound effect. It would be interesting to see if the 75-year-old holds the same views about watching films on smartphones a decade on from that original rant.
Lynch isn’t the only one who has voiced an opinion about smartphones, though. Spike Lee is another famous name to have broached the subject. In 2018, the Do The Right Thing director said he told his film studies students off when they confessed to having watched a film on their smartphone. However, since that interview, Lee has released Da Five Bloods on Netflix. The Vietnam-themed offering dropped directly onto the streaming platform, skipping a theatrical release entirely. This suggests that the director’s opinion may have changed, as a lot of Netflix users are likely to watch via a smartphone.
Looking at how smartphones have transformed a number of other sectors of the entertainment industry, filmmakers may have to begin embracing change soon. The portable devices have boosted gaming massively, and are also being used as a primary way to consume other forms of entertainment such as YouTube and Twitch.
Mobile has been a significant aid to the online casino industry, as it has helped operators to reach people in emerging markets more effectively. With internet penetration growing across South Africa, for example, a lot of people in the country are getting online using smartphones. Casino operators have addressed the spark in playing figures, and now sites like Casinos.co.za have cropped up to help people find the best places to play. The site details which payment methods can be used, and also provides information about VIP schemes. As more players log on to casino sites via mobile, this encourages developers to gear their products towards this audience as well.
Another example of how smartphones are changing the way people in the entertainment industry think is how a lot of classic console games have been adapted to mobile. Offerings like Call of Duty, EA Sports FIFA, and Grand Theft Auto can all be played on mobile now. This is forcing developers to adjust their methods to appeal to a wider audience.
Directors that had previously stood against smartphones may have to have a rethink. With more blockbuster films being released directly onto streaming platforms than ever before, the likelihood that people are going to be watching from their mobile devices is high.
This could bring about a shift in methods when it comes to making the film in the first place. Some innovations have already happened. For instance, the 2011 Korean horror short, Night Fishing, was shot using an iPhone. The director attached a 35mm lens and used other filmmaking equipment to ensure the quality was high.
Although some directors may still hold the view that smartphones are unworthy devices for playing films, the end consumer is way more accepting. Filmmakers may need to put more consideration into the fact that many viewers are going to watch the film from their phones in the future.