Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Victoria Lucia

How To Shoot A Movie On Your iPhone

Shoot A Movie On Your iPhone

Long gone are the days of DIY filmmaking consisting of using bulky professional film cameras. Today, everyone's smartphone allows them to capture videos with a sense of ease people couldn't have dreamt of 25 years ago. Apple's iPhone, in particular, has gained a strong reputation for its video capabilities. Can you really shoot a feature film on your iPhone?

The answer you're waiting for is, yes, you can film an entire movie on your iPhone. You can even complete the entire filmmaking process on a smart phone, from shooting to editing, exporting to uploading! It's amazing.

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You can also use Android; iPhones have just developed a movie-making reputation. In fact, there have been quite a few popular movies made by known directors that were filmed on iPhones.

  • Steven Soderbergh filmed his psychological thriller "Unsane" on an iPhone 7 Plus. Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer wrote the screenplay. 

  • Sean Baker's feature film and comedy crime drama "Tangerine" drew acclaim when it was released. Many couldn't believe that it wasn't filmed like a traditional movie but was filmed on an iPhone 5s. Baker wrote the script along with Chris Burgoch.

  • "9 Rides," written directed by Matthew Cherry, was the first film to be shot on the iPhone 6s. It is a feature-length drama.  

Which iPhone is the best to shoot on?

You can use any iPhone to make a movie if you plan well enough and understand the device's limitations. As each iPhone comes out, their cameras seem to get more impressive, making filmmakers eager to create with them. The iPhone 13 has embraced its legacy as a movie-making phone and adopted a new feature called "cinematic mode." Cinematic mode is meant to help filmmakers shoot and edit their footage. So, while you don't need the latest iPhone to make a movie, it can come with enticing new features.

How do you make a movie on your iPhone?

Filming a movie on your phone requires all the same steps and equipment you'd need with any other camera.  Start by brainstorming an idea. What movie do you want to make? Then get specific. What's the plot? What are the themes? Once you have a strong understanding of your story, you can write an outline or a full script. For short films, you can sometimes get by with writing an outline. The longer the film, or the more complicated, the more planning that needs to happen.

Plan your shots

No matter what you wrote down in terms of outline vs. script, you need to plan out your shot list. The best way to do that is by storyboarding them. I like to storyboard the old-fashioned way by printing a template and drawing out my shots. You don't have to be a great artist to storyboard; you just need to be able to show what is happening in the scene and where it's happening. If you prefer something more technologically advanced, you can look into storyboarding software.

Equipment

Just like with any other camera, you're going to need some equipment to make your movie.

Tripods

Whether it's a tripod or some other stabilizing rig, you're going to want to find something to ensure a smooth quality of your shots.

Lighting

Proper lighting is essential when filming, especially when using a phone. Because of phones' sizes, they have small sensors, meaning footage doesn't look great in low, natural light. Ensure you have plenty of light or a good lighting kit to guarantee that your scenes will be well lit.

Lenses

Companies like Moment make a whole range of lenses that you can attach to your iPhone to create custom shots, just like you would with any other camera.

External Microphone

Audio is a critical factor in movie-making, and you don't want to rely on the iPhone's built-in microphone. You're going to want a separate microphone because while the built-in mic is okay for casual videos, you need an external mic to capture film-worthy audio. There are many audio options out there, some that will easily connect to your iPhone. Check out this article to learn more about external mic options.

External Drive

Do yourself a favor and save your footage on an external drive as soon as possible, and not on the smart phones you're using to shoot. It's better to be safe than sorry. Few things are worse than losing footage. I recommend backing your footage up to the cloud and storing it on a drive like this one.

Editing

You can edit footage right on your iPhone using iMovie or other editing apps. While this is okay for short footage, I recommend using a desktop version of editing software for longer-form projects.

Don't forget the basics just because you're filming on phone cameras. All the standard movie-making practices still apply! Make sure the lighting and framing are proper before every shot. Test your audio and check it while you're filming. Don't forget that you must shoot horizontally so that the movie will play on widescreen displays without looking like it was filmed on a phone. And back up your footage!

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There you go, that's how you make a movie on an iPhone! I hope this blog provided a helpful guide on filming with a phone. If you're thinking about using your phone to film a movie, I say do it! You never know, it could be your film that's the next big iPhone-made movie!

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