December 21, 2017

How the Academy's New Museum is Celebrating 21st Century Filmmaking

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opens its museum in 2019, an iPhone 5 will be amongst its most prized possessions.

Primarily known for its annual Academy Awards ceremony each winter,  the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) is a year-round institution working to further the understanding and appreciation of cinema. Complete with a film preservation archive, student filmmaker grants, a film library, and monthly screenings, the A.M.P.A.S. will now further expand programming with its next venture: the Academy Museum.

Set to open in 2019, the space will be "a dynamic film center [that] will offer unparalleled experiences and insights into movies and moviemaking," according to the Academy's website.  

A personal suggestion for inclusion in the museum's collection would be the RCA Hi8 Camcorder used to film The Blair Witch Project. While Dorothy's ruby red slippers and the felt-covered Muppets are currently off the table, it was announced this week that one of the three iPhone 5s filmmaker Sean Baker used to shoot his indie hit Tangerine with will be joining the museum's items on display. It's an inclusive decision proving that even a historically conservative institution like the Academy keenly observes the economics of independent cinema and how it's being crafted in the digital age. Less an outlier novelty item than a tool for future indie storytelling pursuits, the iPhone's presence in the museum feels like a welcoming acquisition.

Sean Baker shooting 'Tangerine' on an iPhone 5.

Released in 2015, Tangerine went from being "that quirky Santa Monica movie shot on an iPhone," to one that, at least on the independent cinema scale, was a technological breakthrough for filmmakers working with relatively limited resources (i.e. no budget, small crews, and real locations with strict hours in which to shoot).

"Some people think we had a pimped-out or tricked-out iPhone," Baker recalls in the video below shot for the iPhone Academy Museum announcement, "[but] that's not the case. We had an adapter that was literally the size of a matchbook that fit over the lens with a little stabilizer. And that was it. I was able to move very easily around and get different angles." 

What do you think about the inclusion of the iPhone5 in the soon-to-open Academy Museum? Are there other items you recommend they'd include? Let us know down in the comments.     

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