What do they shoot movies with? People who are not in production would never know. Probably with big fancy super-heavy, unbelievably expensive cameras that have mini-screens attached here and there. It would take less than a minute to let down the dream of shooting a movie because of the absence of gear. Well, I have come to you with good news. There are in fact famous directors who managed to shoot a short film with only an iPhone. Let’s see how it went.
If there is a list of movies that you MUST watch, my list would have Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Yes, Michel Gondry directed a short movie with an iPhone 7 Plus in 2017, as a commercial for Apple. Even with the minimum gear, he managed to color the movie with the “Gondry” mood and imagination. It is a very cute and delightful film, shown through the perspective of a tricycle fallen off the back of a car. Along with the film, Apple released extra tutorials with the bts of his production and some videography tips.
Night Fishing-Chan Wook Park
Famous for the movie “Old Boy”, South Korean Filmmaker Chan-wook Park made a 33-minute short film just with an iPhone 4 in 2011. This was the very first iPhone-filmed movie that was ever directed. It is a very peculiar movie, dipped in horror and fantasy, you will see what I mean once you’ve watched it. It was, like most other short films shot on iPhone, partially made to be an ad for the device. However, even so, it was good enough to win the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Snow Steam Iron-Zack Snyder
“Justice League” director Zack Snyder also entered the iPhone movie zone. He directed a short film entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus and an editing application. This short film resembles some of his earlier works such as “300”, and “Sucker Punch”. There are no lines in this film, but we can hear their voices. The imagery of the movie contains the context and lines. Through this no-budget film, Zack Snyder shows creativity outruns the dollars. Art is where you are. The running time of this short film is only 4 minutes long, but it will give you a sensation that will linger for more than a day.
“Ocean’s” series director Steven Soderbergh also joined in the line of iPhone-made movies in 2018. The movie “Unsane” is a B-movie, a psychological thriller shot with iPhone 7 Plus. It is told that it took him only 10 days to shoot this film. With some apps and other tools, he managed to film a ‘70’s horror classic, and he was happy with how it went. At Sundance, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn reported that “Soderbergh said he was so impressed with the quality of iPhone cinematography that he would likely continue to use phones to shoot his movies going forward.”
Sean Baker, the creator of “The Florida Project”, successfully caught the audience’s attention with his independent film, “Tangerine”. Although not the first short film to use a smartphone as a primary camera, “Tangerine” was indeed the most high-profile release. Baker filmed this movie with three iPhone 5s, an application, and a different attachable lens. Once you see this short film, you will find yourself not noticing the difference between movies screened in theaters. With perfect edits and high-quality direction, “Tangerine” won a couple of shiny trophies that it deserved including two Gotham Awards. People have wonder why this movie was named “Tangerine”, and Baker himself gives an answer: “The world is so colorful and the women are so colorful”.
In addition to this previous list, I want to present two more amazing films/commercials shot on iPhone.
The Stunt Double
Apple has shared a short film shot on iPhone 11 Pro themselves. Unlike other short films, this one is vertical.
This 9-minute long vertical movie seems to embrace the history of Hollywood, from silent films to action movies, spy flicks to westerns, and of course, the movie magic. Although not very noticed by the audience, it still broadened the filmmaker’s perspective and the norms of horizontal films. It would have been happier with more views, and I personally don’t understand why, but it is quite a fun and interesting piece of work with just the right amount of love cliche.
In 2019, one of Apple’s ads went hyperviral, views skyrocketing by seconds the moment it was uploaded on YouTube. It was a commercial directed by David Leitch, the director of “DeadPool 2”, solely shot with iPhone 11 Pros. The commercial pictures a girl and her brother’s crazy snowball fight with their team on the side. They are all so serious and the footage is so cinematic, it’s almost like the opening scene of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”. The commercial was posted at the start of December, the holiest month of the year, the month of closure, and Christmas and family. So the message of this commercial was that you can shoot your own epic video of family holidays, even the tantrums like this snowball fight. Well apparently, Apple was not wrong.
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