We all know the iPhone single-handedly changed the way people shoot photos, but surprisingly, it’s also beginning to impact the world of professional filmmaking. Apple’s flagship smartphone recently made headlines at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival for the critically praised feature-length film, Tangerine, which was filmed entirely with the iconic mobile device.
Tangerine, directed by Sean Baker and now set for eventual distribution, quickly earned the backing of Magnolia Pictures. Although it lacks the heavy-hitting qualities of most blockbuster films — it features a small, unknown crew and a plot revolving around two transgender women running around Los Angeles’ underbelly — it still touts one big hook from a tech angle; the crew shot its entirety with an Apple iPhone 5s.
As with all filmmaking cameras, using just the iPhone by itself wasn’t quite enough to create a complete film. Rather, the crew relied on extra equipment to beef up the film quality, including a prototype anamorphic lens adapter from Moondog Labs, the FiLMiC Pro video app, and a Steadicam. The film crew also received a healthy dose of help on the audio front, utilizing an SD 664 production mixer, boom mics, and even a lavalier during the filmmaking process. Baker specifically pointed to the anamorphic lens as the essential part of Tangerine’s production, though. “To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have even made the movie without it,” Baker told The Verge, further emphasizing how it “elevated” the film to a more “cinematic level.”
However, Tangerine isn’t the first production to utilize one of Apple’s many devices as a video camera. Here are some other great films shot entirely with Apple products.
And Uneasy Lies the Mind
This movie — coming in at 88 minutes in length — was shot strictly with an iPhone 5 while utilizing a mere $10,000 budget. The team used a Turtle Back Lens Adapter to equip the iPhone with a melange of different lenses, along with the same FiLMiC Pro app the crew behind Tangerine used. One drawback of using the iPhone? According to director Ricky Fosheim, the battery had a tendency to die within “two minutes” while shooting a few of the outdoor scenes in the cold.
Paranmanjang (Night Fishing)
Directed by Park Chan-wook, the man behind the South Korean iteration of Oldboy, this 33-minute film featured a “big” budget of $130,000 despite utilizing an iPhone 4 for filming purposes. However, it should also go without saying a hefty chunk of the budget went into working some post-production magic, which allowed the filmmakers to drastically spruce up the film’s visual qualities. The fantasy-horror flick features K-pop star Lee Jung-hyun as a man who encounters more than just sturgeon during what’s intended to be a mellow fishing trip.
Shot entirely with an iPhone 4S, the crew behind this three-minute short always intended to complete the project on a small budget. Aside from using the aforementioned Apple device, the small crew also opted for a tripod, slider, and a couple of clamps while filming. The entire film took a single day to film — and one more to edit — before the director uploaded it to the popular video site Vimeo.
A paltry eight minutes allow the team behind The Editor to showcase three short stories in one, all the while successfully achieving solid production along the way. However, unlike films such as Tangerine and And Uneasy Lies The Mind, director Chris Nong made a point to use nothing particularly fancy. “I didn’t use any apps or lenses,” Nong mentioned in a Vimeo comment. “I wanted it to be shot strictly on phone (sic).”
I Play with the Phrase Each Other
Jay Alvarez’s critically-acclaimed I Play with the Phrase Each Other tore through film festivals in 2014, not because of its peculiar filming style but because it featured an even more peculiar premise. Production-wise, the film shot exclusively with an iPhone – on a $17,000 budget, no less – but I Play with the Phrase Each Other’s greatest facet is the way Alvarez tells the film’s story strictly through phone calls. He expertly weaves the viewers’ perspective of what’s happening by chiming in a phone call here, a phone call there, giving audiences the sensation they’re eavesdropping their way through the story. It’s a fascinating experience, one that’s even more amazing given it was done entirely with just an iPhone.
Romance in NYC
Touted as the first film shot entirely with an iPhone 6, filmmaker Tristan Pope’s POV film Romance in NYC depicts two lovers’ everyday lives in New York City. The film expertly captures the subtleties of relationships – even the usual humdrum – rendering it as romantic as it is gripping. The crew accomplished the feat with just an iPhone 6, an HD2000 Glidecam, a Blackwing grip, and several tripods and shoulder rigs. Edits were made using the MoviePro app, which Pope further expanded upon recently alongside his inspirations and ideas for the sensational film with IndieWire.
This short film clocks in just shy of a minute and a half, but YouTube contributor Matthew Pearce’s DragonBorne is a stunning display of an iPhone 6’s production power. Pearce says he used the iOS video editing app Efexio, the FilMiC Pro app, iMovie, Movie Looks, and Video Crop during the movie’s production. In a short, behind-the-scenes shot toward the end, viewers see Pearce merely holding the iPhone 6 while shooting, showing off the device’s incredible knack for stability. He also briefly points out how the equipment used to create the flick would have cost ordinary filmmakers upward of $10,000 just a short time ago.
Next page: More videos shot with Apple products
Miscellaneous videos shot with iPhones and iPads
The Apple iPhone isn’t the only device getting in on the video-making fun. Many other devices in the Apple family – notably the iPad and Mac computer – have recently served as the primary recording equipment for various projects, allowing amateurs and professionals alike to get the most of of their devices and budget. Below are just a few of them.
Modern Family episode
An episode of the hit ABC comedy Modern Family recently made network television history by filming a full, half-hour episode using only Apple devices. Shot entirely with iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, the sitcom’s story revolves around the show’s various characters making a series of FaceTime calls with one another. It may sound gimmicky and difficult to pull off, sure, but the strong writing and excellent cinematography in Modern Family render the episode an absolute marvel.
Standards of Living
Filmmaker Aaron Mento’s dark comedy Standards of Living owns the impressive distinction of being the first feature-length movie shot entirely with an iPad 2. Mento said his decision to film exclusively with the popular tablet wasn’t a response to a lack of professional equipment, but rather, a concept he created with the iPad 2 in mind. Coming in at just under an hour and a half in length, Standards of Living depicts a struggling comedian who looks to improve upon his awful comedy routine with the help of an experimental teleportation project. The film’s low-budget texture gives it a unique aesthetic, which works perfectly with the direction of the story.
English automaker Bentley recently joined in on the iPhone video craze with a three-minute advertisement shot strictly with an iPhone 5s. However, the ad’s high-quality demeanor makes it difficult to believe the filmmakers used just a BeastGrip lens adapter, a Neewer Fisheye lens, MoVI M5 gimbal stabilizers, and a Schneider iPro lens. The “fast and dirty” edits were made using iMovie, while FiLMiC Pro allowed the crew to handle more intricate edits.
Apple’s 2015 Oscar Advertisement
While Apple was marketing the iPad Air 2 during the 2015 Oscars broadcast, the company ran an ad filmed entirely with the new tablet. Filmmaker Martin Scorcese narrated the quaint ad, which depicted a group of high-school students and their aspirations to make films. Apple partnered with the L.A. County High School for the Arts for the project, and moreover, gave the student filmmakers each an iPad to film their own project.
Apple’s 2015 Grammy Advertisement
Apple also produced a minute-long iPad Air 2 advertisement for the 2015 Grammys, much like it did for the Oscars – this time focusing on a collaboration with Swedish band Elliphant, DJ The Gaslamp Killer, and music producer Riton. Shot entirely with an iPad Air 2, the ad chronicles the production process of remixing Elliphant’s single, All or Nothing. After the ad ran during the show, Apple featured each of the apps the artists used during the collaboration on its website.
Cody Brooks contributed to this article.
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