Hollywood is dead. The paparazzi, yogic healers, pet psychiatrists and cosmetic surgeons might not realise it yet (even if Beyonce and Lady Gaga already have), but everything you need for real film-making can now fit in the palm of your hand. Today's movie-mad mobiles can shoot hours of video (sometimes in high definition), edit it down and launch you to stardom on YouTube or Flickr.
If you're serious about mobile movies, start with a phone's imaging system. High definition alone isn't a recipe for success, but there's no point handicapping yourself with old-school VGA (640x480-pixel) clips unless you're seriously short of storage space or cash. Wannabe directors should seek out 720 or full 1080-line capture for brighter, sharper video.
Pay just as much attention to the maximum frame rate. Clips shot at 15 frames per second (fps) will look noticeably jerky compared with the cinematic standard of 24fps or butter-smooth 30fps. A few phones offer ultra-fast 120fps to give (slightly gimmicky) slow-mo playback.
Autofocus is generally a good idea but it depends on how smart it is. It's easier to watch fixed-focus footage that gets a little blurry up close than autofocus clips where the phone is constantly hunting back and forth.
Unlike a real camcorder, you haven't got a zoom lens or optical stabilisation to help your camera crew. A high-speed mode for action and high-sensitivity mode for night-time shooting will be worth their weight in celluloid, and an LED video light is simply invaluable. You can't expect much more in the way of features, although face detection and colour effects are common.
Editing widgets are likely to be very basic -- if you can do more than trim clips and dub a soundtrack you should be feeling very smug. As you'd expect, smart phones do much better here, but even the best apps pale in comparison with almost any desktop software. This is one area where the limited processing power of phones is painfully obvious.
In terms of build, mechanical shutter and zoom buttons are always better than fiddling with touchscreen icons. Any reasonably sharp screen at 63.5mm (2.5 inches) or larger will be fine for framing and shooting but you might want more real estate for playing back. Bear in mind that shooting video is the most power-draining activity you can do on your phone, especially if you're geotagging clips. Choose a handset with a hefty battery life, and keep your charger handy.
Storage quickly becomes an issue if you're shooting in HD. Internal memory is fine but nothing beats an easily accessible microSD card slot. The cards are dirt cheap these days and will make swapping and downloading a breeze. If you can find one of the few handsets to boast a mini-HDMI port, they're great for instant flat-screen telly playback. Otherwise, DLNA over Wi-Fi makes it fairly easy to stream clips using your home network.
Here are some light action cameras from the CNET UK team to whet your creative appetite.