"Cats and Dogs," the first feature filmed with an iPhone, opened in movie theaters here on Dec. 12.
Director Min Byung-woo said, "Thanks to the smartphone, the time has come when even individuals with no capital can make a feature-length film. Instead, ideas and stories are important again.
Min was preparing to debut a commercial film when he realized that smartphone cameras now have a high enough resolution to make movies that can be shown in theaters, and decided to do exactly that.
He started the film with just W10 million (US$1=W1,053), which he had won in a contest in 2011 where independent filmmakers competed with shorts shot by smartphone. The love story between a man who has a cat and a woman who has a dog was made with two iPhones, eight crew, two actors, and the two animals.
The cat and dog were not trained for the screen, but Min said the iPhone is ideal to film creatures whose behavior is unpredictable.
"When the dog or cat did what I wanted them to do even when the cameraman was out to grab a meal, I just took out my smartphone and filmed it myself," Min said. "The amateur actors appear natural because they could play their parts without being conscious of camera movements due to the small size of iPhones."
"Cats and Dogs" is also the first movie in Korea to observe work guidelines set for the film industry, which include the maximum daily filming hours, timely payments, work benefits, etc.
"Normally it takes two hours just to set up the lights and actors have to wait," Min said. "But by using a smartphone we were able to avoid that. We could start filming at 10 a.m. and wrap things up by 6 p.m. despite the tight budget."
Min says his only regret is going slightly over budget. He splurged on props and location expenses. In the end it cost W25 million. But he is happy with the results. "Smartphones give you more freedom to make a movie. I'm going to make another feature with a smartphone and a shoe-string budget."