Samsung, Like Apple, Taps Hollywood Directors to Sell You Phones

"Shot on an iPhone," meet "Shot on a Galaxy S23."

David Lumb Mobile Reporter
David Lumb is a mobile reporter covering how on-the-go gadgets like phones, tablets and smartwatches change our lives. Over the last decade, he's reviewed phones for TechRadar as well as covered tech, gaming, and culture for Engadget, Popular Mechanics, NBC Asian America, Increment, Fast Company and others. As a true Californian, he lives for coffee, beaches and burritos.
Expertise smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, telecom industry, mobile semiconductors, mobile gaming
David Lumb
2 min read
Closeup of a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone clamped on to a high-quality metal rig to be used as a main camera for shooting Scott's short film.

A Galaxy S23 Ultra rigged up as a main camera to shoot Ridley Scott's short film Behold, which was teased during Samsung Unpacked.


At Samsung Unpacked, the company showed off the video chops of its new Galaxy S23 phones by running teasers of short films shot using the new handsets -- made by not just anyone, but by acclaimed directors Ridley Scott and Na Hong-jin. And in phone industry tradition, Apple had done that first: Steven Spielberg shot a music video on an iPhone last July.

These little stunts promote the idea that new phones are technically capable of shooting films -- and they aren't wrong, as movies shot on phones like 2015's street life drama Tangerine and 2018's thriller Unsane have reached big audiences. Samsung and Apple use well-known directors to appeal to filmmakers on a budget that they, too, can use the phones in their pocket to pursue their dreams.

"I thought it's a great challenge, a very interesting challenge," said Scott during a pre-recorded Unpacked segment about shooting a film on a phone. "The scary thing is, this small object is going to take the place of all the big cameras."

Scott's lauded film career includes Alien, Gladiator, Blade Runner and now his short film Behold, which was shot on a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. The short hasn't been released yet, but Scott describes it as a simply told story about a man escaping his aggressive environment to take solace in a horse he befriends. The film wasn't just shot on a naked phone, though, as the behind-the-scenes footage shows production crew using shot-steadying gimbals and tripods, boom microphones and even lenses clamped on top of the phone cameras to improve the quality of the production. 

The Samsung Unpacked stage is filled with a giant digital poster for Hong-jin's short film Faith, which shows an ominous man in a broad-brimmed hat, painted face and starkly blue jacket standing in a dimly-lit alley.

During Samsung Unpacked, director Na Hong-jin spoke about his upcoming short film, Faith, which was shot using a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.


Na Hong-jin's short film Faith, which also hasn't been released, explores how our values and beliefs vary from person to person -- perhaps with sinister consequences. Known for his award-winning thriller films The Chaser, The Yellow Sea and The Wailing, Na's short film looks to be a darkly shot project embracing light and shadows, which is challenging when using phone cameras, which have poorer low-light capability than far more expensive cameras used by filmmakers.

"Filming a movie with a smartphone can seem simple at first, but we needed to ask ourselves, how does this change our production process?" Na said in a prerecorded segment during Unpacked. Adding more lights was the answer, though that changed the mood of the shots. HDR on the S23 Ultra allowed the film's cinematographer to reduce the illumination so the tone remains dark.

It's always impressive when a professional shows you what your smartphone can do, but we'll wait to see the finished short films to know what Samsung's top-of-the-line S23 Ultra is truly capable of, especially with its 200-megapixel main camera.