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How to create a cinematic film with your smartphone

Creating an award winning film on your smartphone

How do you create a short film or a feature length film with no top of the range Nikon D5? With no connections to a production company? With no affiliation to a distributor?

Well, fortunately for you this isn’t a barrier any! All you need is an idea and your smartphone. No joke, some films are filmed with just a camera phone and a captivating script and have won awards.

Here is one example: https://nofilmschool.com/2015/07/tangerine-sundance-iphone-5s-sean-baker-radium-cheung-interview

So here are 6 key tips to keep you on track to achieving the (not so) impossible dream:

1. The Story

The story is key! No doubt about it. You have to captivate your audience, take them on a journey – a rollercoaster. Keep them guessing, keep them thinking, keep them wondering “What next?!”.

Develop your story into a masterpiece by following these steps here.

2. Filming

Make sure your plan is water tight and ensure you stick to it. This will save you time and money. The final product will be far better as well. A disorganised team, who are unsure of where to go or what to do is a disaster waiting to happen.

There are plenty of apps on the market but the two we highly recommend to get that crisp footage:

Essential Tips for a Filmmaker

3. Stability

You need stability for the film. You cannot have shaky footage (unless meant) in you short/feature film. You will lose the audience and it will make the footage look amateur. Ensure you have the right equipment to create a stable image, whether it’s setting it up on a table or buying a cheap gorilla tripod.

Make. Sure. It’s stable. Please.

Very unstable bridge
Make it more stable than this bridge. Please.

4. Sound

Sound is another essential aspect to filmmaking. It helps tell the story and if you have poor quality sound the audience is lost. You need the audience to be submerged within your film, on the edge of their seats, awaiting every moment – every twist, turn and breath. But with shit sound – you lose everything. You can pick up a reasonably priced shotgun mic for your phone which will work very well.

5. Lighting

Excellent lighting is critical as smartphones have much smaller lenses and sensors. You can either film in the daylight or you can purchase some basic lighting. Make sure the lighting is stable and consistent and it will improve your film quality no end.

6. Editing

Get the right editing software for you. Make sure it fits your criteria and works with what you want to achieve with your film production. You need it to have the right functionality so you can edit your film to how you want to tell the story. For your beautiful vision to be recognised to its fullest. Editing is one of the biggest components to moulding this to your style.

Read here for our editing software breakdown:

Our Top Editing Software Guide


NOTE: If you hit these three on the head, you are on for a winner. Remember content is king. If you have a compelling story you could shoot it on a block of cheese and people will still enjoy it, remember to keep it visual, show not tell.

… It takes time to learn and adapt. Trial and error, but you will get there. Never give up.

Check out these for some inspiration: https://www.indiewire.com/2018/03/movies-shot-on-iphones-unsane-tangerine-shorts-1201941565/

Tell us about your movie here, and we can chuck it onto our favourites board. Any questions or in need of advice, fire them here:

Happy filming!

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