Believe it or not – if you own an iPhone, you have in your hands the power to shoot a movie. It doesn’t even have to be the latest iPhone. Korean horror movie Night Fishing was shot on an iPhone 4 in 2011, and there’s even an iPhone Film Festival specially for films shot on an iPhone.

Before you grab your iPhone and start fulfilling your dream of being the next Jack Neo of Singapore, you might want to learn how best to make your iPhone footage look like its cinema-worthy. It’s not just about taking that iPhone and recording everything you see – you still need basic filmmaking techniques and a cast and crew to assist. But the iPhone can defray the cost of buying a professional camera as long as you pick up the following equipment to go along with it.


1. A proper set of lenses

iPhone with lenses. Credit: BRWC

iPhone with lenses. Credit: BRWC

When it comes to user interface, the iPhone trumps many professional cameras by having touchscreen controls. Basically, the phone will autofocus on whichever point you’ve tapped, rather than expecting you to manually fiddle with focus settings. It’s even improved to the point where there’s a Portrait Mode dedicated to creating a shallow depth-of-field effect.

But when it comes down to it, sometimes you’ll need professional lenses. You can’t simulate a fish-eye lens effect on your iPhone, for example – and there’s a limit to how close you can go with your iPhone for macro shots. So a good pair of camera lenses (and a mount for them, don’t forget!) will help you achieve visuals that all filmmakers dream of making.


2. Hold your iPhone horizontally

Hold your iPhone horizontally! Credit: FonePaw

Hold your iPhone horizontally! Credit: FonePaw

Even if you’re not shooting a feature film, you should never record videos vertically with your iPhone. It looks terrible when you upload, and then you have to add those blurred bars on the left and right so that the video doesn’t look awkward. The days of a nearly square aspect ratio (a 3:4 aspect ratio) are long gone (along with cathode ray tube televisions). Your film should be shot in at least a 16:9 aspect ratio, if not more (most movies are in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio these days).

Holding your phone horizontally also gives your film a more theatrical effect, because it allows for wide, sweeping shots that establish a feeling of grandeur. So remember to keep your iPhone horizontal when filming your next Academy Award winning feature!


3. Get a stabiliser or tripod

A stabiliser gives you smoother camera movement. Credit: Filmora

A stabiliser gives you smoother camera movement. Credit: Filmora

Ever watched one of those shaky, handheld camera films like the Blair Witch series? Although it’s meant to simulate real life, it usually ends up making audiences dizzy and nauseous. Your shots should be as stable as possible, and camera movements should be smooth and well-planned. Therefore, you’re going to want to invest in a camera stabiliser rig, or a tripod (with a iPhone-compatible mounting plate).

That’s not to say that handheld shots don’t have their place in a movie – if you feel that your film warrants some shaky camera footage, then include those by all means. But don’t put in shaky shots because you have no other choice – put in handheld shots because your film warrants those kinds of visuals.


4. Get a set of proper microphones

Even a small mike will work wonders for your audio. Credit: Saramonic

Even a small mike will work wonders for your audio. Credit: Saramonic

While the iPhone has excellent visuals, one area where it falls short is in recording audio. Sometimes you need a windshield or muffler to get clearer audio, especially if your film is dialogue-heavy or you’re in a public, noisy environment. Investing in a proper microphone for your iPhone will ensure that your film has the sound quality to match your audio quality.

Optionally, you always choose to record your dialogue later in a quiet, conducive environment. But using an iPhone in an enclosed space may still give you echoey, hollow audio. So regardless of how you’re recording your audio, a microphone is an important investment.


5. Get a power bank

Power banks - every mobile phone user's best friend. Credit: iGeeksBlog

Power banks – every mobile phone user’s best friend. Credit: iGeeksBlog

Last but not least – you need a power bank. As a mobile phone user, you should already own one – but if you’re going to be shooting a film, you’d probably need a heavy duty power bank that can charge your phone multiple times. Few iPhones can stand the rigours of a 14-hour (or longer) shoot, so make sure that your most important piece of equipment doesn’t run out of juice while you’re shooting your film.

We’d advise getting a capacity of at least 10,000 mAh for your power bank.

Unsane. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Unsane. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Still not convinced that you can shoot an entire feature film on an iPhone? Then you should catch Unsane – a thriller that’s shot entirely on the iPhone. Director Steven Soderbergh was so pleased with the experience of shooting a whole movie on an iPhone that he’s even said that he wants to shoot future films on an iPhone from now on.

Unsane sees Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) being unwittingly committed to a mental institution – where her stalker lies in wait. Can she convince the doctors that she’s not insane and escape before her stalker gets to her? Or is this all somehow part of her delusions? Catch Unsane to find out.

However, if you’re really keen to find out whether Sawyer Valentini is truly insane, sign up for a preview screening of Unsane at GV Vivocity! To enhance your movie experience, you even get a complimentary serving of The Juicy Way “The Big Bang” bottled juice.

Personally, we think that Sawyer may not be all that insane after all…


Credits: BRWC, FonePaw, iPhoneness, Filmora, Saramonic, iGeeksBlog, Golden Village Cinemas


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