Dr. Max Schleser
Digital Media Institute of Communication Design
Massey University New Zealand
‘The Mobile-mentary’ research project defines mobile documentary filmmaking in the mediascape of the years 2004-2007.
My thesis investigates the potential of and prospects for mobile documentary filmmaking. As a result of practice-led research, the city film Max with a Keitai was produced on mobile camera phones for cinematic projection. The feature-length documentary portrays the contemporary Japanese megalopolis through the lens of a mobile phone and records the mobile filmmaking process. Simultaneously, the project experimented with mobile phones as viewing devices for ‘micro-movies’. Through curating an international mobile art exhibition and mobile feature film screening, the research explored the new mobile aesthetic from 2004 onwards, which is presented as the Keitai Aesthetic in this thesis.
In the first chapters the thesis maps out the early mobile mediascape in the years 2004 to 2007 and analyses cinematic technology through user-based histories. Furthermore, the theoretical framework explores the city films of the 1920s and the concept of motion in film. Mobile filmmaking in the years 2004 to 2007 constitutes a return to non-linear documentary practices, such as interval theory (Dziga Vertov) and Ur-Kino (Hans Richter). The final chapters examine the new emerging mobile aesthetic in the research timeframe from 2004 to 2007 and further develop the argument that innovation in mobile filmmaking occurred, both in the domain of the gallery and the film-festival context before the media industry realized the potential of mobile media. The particular mobile resolution adds new elements to the emerging Keitai Aesthetic: the experience of location, notions of personal, immediate and intimate qualities. This research documents the alternative approach offered by the mobile-mentary (mobile documentary) and explores its potential as an intervention into the industry dominated discourse.