Interview: Jason van Genderen

Updated: 27 Jan 2014
Photo by Jason van Genderen at Sundance London

Known as the pocket filmmaker, Jason van Genderen hails from Sydney, Australia. Former winner of Tropfest New York, Jason is being recognised for his innovative use of the mobile phone’s movie camera and his talent and skill is evident in his short films shot solely with small devices such as a mobile phone. He chats with Su Aziz before Tropfest SEA and watch the video of his interview below.

Why do you shoot films with a phone?
The reason I do this is because I find pocket filmmaking makes storytelling really accessible. So, I’ve always got a camera with me and I can always start shooting, start documenting the world around us. Whereas with larger gear, I need to organise more people, budgets and the like.

What’s the biggest challenge shooting with a phone?
The quality side of things. There are limitations to mobile phones but there are accessories and apps available now that help.

And the best thing about it?
Again, it’s the accessibility of storytelling, it’s immediate. I can do it now, I can film on the street and no one is going to stop me because there are so many people standing around with a camera filming.

What’s next for you?
A television series on mythical Australian creatures with a producer friend of mine Shane Emmett and we’re using both pocket cameras and larger devices for it. For you,

Tropfest means….
…a family of filmmakers. A very inclusive festival. The thing I love about it and why I think it’s important for Southeast Asia is, it’s going to build a community of storytellers, nurturing stories about your local culture and environment, and Penang for me is a new hothouse for storytelling. I can’t wait to see what Tropfest does in this region.

Finally, Jason's tips for great pocket filmmaking:
1. Do not shoot your video on portrait mode. Turn it around to landscape.
2. Avoid murky lens by cleaning your phone’s camera lens with a cloth or your t-shirt. It’s probably just fingerprints.
3. Do not use the digital zoom. It’s bad for video.
4. For steady shots, hold your arms close to your body while shooting with the phone.
5. Be on Flight Mode so there will be no interruptions by phonecalls.
6. Look for manual apps to control focus, white balance and exposure to help you along and they are free.

For the latest updates on Jason van Genderen, check out his website and collection of short films on YouTube.

Tags: Features