Dan Hume's Blog

People & Power : Syria: Songs of Defiance
May 9, 2012, 10:42 am
Filed under: Extended Major Project

Even though I’m reaching the end of my project, I’m still continually researching the impact of the iphone as a tool for filmmaking. I’ve just been reading about this anonymous Al Jazeera journalist who filmed a documentary, shot on an iPhone 4 and 4S that shows a compelling first-person account of a country in turmoil and a revolution in progress in this intriguing episode of People and Power. one interesting thing that this writer has pointed out is that the ‘Footage from the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S is good enough to make television with.’

The film premiered on the program Power and Power, which lasted approximately 25 minutes. According to Al Jazeera, the iPhone’s “tiny camera, filming secretly on street corners, through car windows, and behind closed doors, [let the correspondent] gather images that reveal ordinary people showing extraordinary courage.” It also makes it easier to hide from the Syrian government, which is actively targeting journalists trying to cover the conflict. This is exactly the same concept of what I’ve been doing on the last two projects, except I’ve not been filming in a war zone and trying to hide from the government. If it hadn’t been for the small camera in the iPhone, journalists would have seriously struggled to have captured any material to share with the media.

This is the first time an iPhone-filmed documentary has been aired on television and it goes to show that footage from the iPhone 4 is good enough to make television with. Mobile phone cameras have been responsible for a series of negative social changes–just think of the way phones are now commonly lifted into the air at concerts, ruining the view of the band. But around the world, from Occupy Wall Street to the revolutions in Syria and Egypt, camera phones have allowed citizens and activists to discreetly videotape events of genuine importance. And now it’s become a tool for intrepid undercover journalists, as well.

“The tiny camera, lets the correspondent gather images that reveal ordinary people showing extraordinary courage.”

However, it’s been reported that iPhone imports and served mobile phone-wielding activists with notices from the customs department of Syria’s Finance Ministry.

iPhone Investigation: An Undercover Documentary From Syria Made Using Phones

The full documentary can be viewed on youtube below:

After watching this short documentary, I feel incredibly happy that I’ve created a body of work this year that has been generated through an iPhone. I’ve come to realise it’s the mere concept of a camera being built into a phone that’s the main powerful aspect of both my projects this year. The iPhone is just a brand of a mobile device, but it’s camera capabilities are what make it stand it from other mobile phones.  Stopping iPhone imports isn’t going to stop journalists doing the same thing, as there are plenty of other phones available with cameras. They Syrian government would have to stop imports of all mobile phones with built in cameras, to prevent people from exploiting the reality.


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