How a $1.99 iPhone app saved an Oscar-nominated documentary

With just a few days left to go for the Oscars, here comes a surprising story about a nominated documentary being shot using an iPhone app. Yes, you read that right, a $1.99 iOS app is behind an Oscar-nominated documentary!

Director Malik Bendjelloul started off shooting the documentary, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, with a Super 8, but he met with a slight delay as he ran out of money to buy film. He told CNN Money in an interview that a few very vital parts of the documentary were still to be shot, but then he realised "there was this $1 app here on my iPhone and I tried it and it was basically the same as the real stuff.

The app, called 8mm Vintage Camera, is published by Nexvio. The app is essentially Instagram for video, and while most effects can be emulated in post-production using video editors, 8mm’s one-step vintage filter makes it very handy.

8mm for iOS 'Instagramifies' your videos

8mm for iOS 'Instagramifies' your videos


The documentary is about Cape Town residents Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom's efforts to find out if the rumours about the death of their hero Rodriguez was true or not. Rodriguez was an American musician who for some reason had not made it large in his home country but was wildly popular in South Africa. Since the movie is about Rodriguez and his popularity in the 1970s, Bendjelloul wanted to give it a vintage look, a criteria that 8mm fit beautifully.

The app brings alive the film quality of the '70s, giving a grainy, yet not overtly distracting look and feel to the video. Bendjelloul shot some important parts depicting Rodriguez using the app, with impressive results. So impressive, that no one knew about how he shot them until he started talking about it.

CNN Money ended up looking for the app's developer to hear what he had to say about it. Hongiyu Chi, President of Nexivio Inc, was delighted to know that his app played an important part in getting Searching for Sugar Man an Oscar Nomination. He said he was a fan of the movie as Bendjelloul was a fan of the app.

The Oscars are all set to be held this Sunday and even Google has joined the excitement. The search giant has launched a one-stop shop site for all things Oscars, including trailers of all the nominated movies, trivia and even predictions about who will win based on search popularity.

The site also features helpful tools like dates and ticket prices of movie theatres that are playing Oscar-winning flicks, and links to watch them off Movies on Google Play.



(Cover Image Credits: Getty Images)

Published Date: Feb 22, 2013 06:41 pm | Updated Date: Feb 22, 2013 06:41 pm