Journey into the world of smartphone filmmaking

Well look at what we’ve got here. Apple have launched their latest device, the iPhone 13, which comes packed with a tonne of features that, let’s be realistic, cater to our deep and dark desires of going big or going home.

With the release of the iPhone 13, it’s taken me back in time to when I made my first smartphone film using the iPhone XS Max. 

The year was 2019, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I was allowed to leave my house without a mask.

I recall getting a call from my DOP, the world renowned Rah Sharma, asking if I could write a short to shoot using a smartphone. He gave me a location he was keen to capture on camera, a couple of resources we had available to us, and off I went to write the script.

Pre-Production

Within 48 hours, we had the script, the cast & crew, and the shoot date sorted. Because that’s how we roll.

For more tips on how to make films using the resources you have, check out my last article on Top 6 hacks to make a zero budget film.

Production

It was a sunrise shoot. As it almost always is with Rah and I. Meeting in the darkest hours of the night and watching the sun rise with your team is a beautiful thing to share and enjoy with fellow creatives. But I digress!

Shooting on the iPhone XS Max, we used the Filmic Pro app which allows full manual control of your camera. To get some of our key shots, we added a Struman Optics lens.

We used monopods to create the illusion of a drone and the legendary Zhiyun Crane 2 which allows you to follow the character’s emotions through camera movement. For sound we used Deity Microphones with Zoom F8, which worked well considering the super windy day we were faced with.

We wrapped by lunch and I retreated back to my cave to get my edit on.

Post Production

One thing I’d really love to call out is that the music score was completed before we shot the film. This is extremely rare and only happened because I personally love collaborating with Sydney turned Hollywood composer, Anisha Thomas, and at the time she was unavailable after the shoot date. So we worked together through the script, the story and the beats and she scored a masterpiece. I’m sure you could imagine my face when I dragged and dropped her tracks into the timeline and it aligned perfectly with the edit.

Post-production was completed using DaVinci Resolve, which I’ve mentioned before is our preference when making our films. And then we were done.

Film Festivals

Our first smartphone film. What to do with it now? Well…how about submit it into one of the biggest smartphone film festivals? 

So I did just that. SmartFone Flick Fest is an international smartphone film festival for filmmakers of all ages. I was super excited to enter a number of festivals but this one was at the top of my list. Mainly because I’d been in attendance the year before and was gobsmacked by the artistry of smartphone filmmaking. It inspired me to want to create more using the device in my pocket to really test my creativity. Something I feel, we really did achieve with this project.

Awards

The team and I were over the moon when we found out we were selected to be in the official selection of the film festival. But what truly blew me away, was the honour to receive the Women in Film and Television WIFT Best Female Create Award for our film. Awarded by WIFT NSW Chair Megan Riakos, it was a true honour to be recognised for my efforts to create inspiring work and my continued years of hustling in the industry.

An award that I share with my team and all those that have helped me get to where I am today. 

And then some…

But the icing on the cake was finding out that SF3 had gotten the entire official selection of films onto Etihad Airways and my smartphone film was being screened up in the clouds.

Holy shizzle! These guys not only provide a platform for filmmakers to bring their ideas to life using resources they already have, but they’re finding ways for artists to reach for the stars, literally. To the founders of SmartFone Flick Fest, Ali Crew and Angela Blake, thank you for making these big dreams accessible.

Wrap

So that brings me back to the iPhone 13. I’m impressed to see the Pro model allows us to record ProRes Video with it.

If it’s anything like its predecessors, it’s packing a punch in features for the filmmaker that I am sure is going to help you bring your next film to life. If you get it and make a film, please share it below. I’d love to see it. 

And if you’re still in lockdown and can’t go out and shoot a film, you can always film yourself! If you’re a bit iffy about that then check out this article Beginners Guide to being in front of a camera.

The Film

In the meantime, here is my first smartphone film “They’re Listening” for you to watch and enjoy! It’s about a paranoid technophobe who goes too far when he tries to convince his girlfriend that his conspiracy theories are true. Runtime: 5min.

You can also check out the behind the scenes footage of how we shot it. 

Until next time!
RBM

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