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The barrier for entry into filmmaking is lower than it’s ever been thanks to the technology available in your pocket: in 2020, you can make movies using just your iPhone and a few key accessories. And iPhone cinematography isn’t relegated to indie directors — Steven Soderbergh shot his films “Unsane” and “High Flying Bird” on an iPhone and even told IndieWire in 2018 that he would likely keep doing it.
“I think this is the future,” he said at Sundance that year. “Anybody going to see this movie who has no idea of the backstory to the production will have no idea this was shot on the phone. That’s not part of the conceit.”
Thanks to the iPhone’s ability to shoot 4K ultra HD footage, it’s a game-changer for the director, who has also said he’s done with major studio films.
“I’d have to have a pretty good reason not to be thinking about [shooting on iPhones] first” as he moves forward, he said. “There’s a philosophical obstacle a lot of people have about the size of the capture device. I don’t have that problem. I look at this as potentially one of the most liberating experiences that I’ve ever had as a filmmaker, and that I continue having. …This is, to me, a new chapter.”
Want to channel your inner Soderbergh? We’ve rounded up a few gear choices below that will help make your indie film or documentary or whatever you’re planning to shoot look as polished and professional as possible. Check out our choices below.
You likely already have an iPhone, but if not your best bet is the most recent release. The iPhone makes our list of the most affordable cameras for filmmakers, thanks to its ability to record in high-quality formats (from 720p HD at 30 fps up to 4K at 60 fps, depending on the model of your device) and its pro-level telephoto lenses.
Price: $14.99 in the app store
You’ll also want an app that can capture your high-quality footage — Filmic Pro is unsurpassed, used by Sean Baker on “The Florida Project” and “Tangerine,” the Netflix pandemic-produced anthology series “Social Distance,” and many a music video (including Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love”). Baker’s groundbreaking work on “Tangerine,” which was shot with three iPhone 5s smartphones, has earned him and the film a spot in the upcoming Academy Museum — it officially acquired one of the iPhones Baker and cinematographer Radium Cheung used to film the groundbreaking 2015 indie hit. And along with the use of Filmic Pro to better control the focus and aperture of the iPhone camera, Baker and Cheung used an anamorphic adapter to shoot in widescreen and a Steadicam to capture tracking shots.
Now that you have your camera sorted, you’re going to need a portable power situation if you want to film for