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Great films that were shot entirely on iPHONE

Here are examples of productions proving that it is possible to shoot a feature-length film with an iPhone and even get an Oscar afterwards.

Martyna Janasik

6 December 2022

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Is it possible to make a full-length movie solely with the help of an iPhone? It is. After all, it’s the story that matters most, not the camera. Here are examples of productions that were shot with an iPhone and prove that where there’s a will there’s a way. One of the films was even awarded an Oscar.

Tangerine

Tangerine is a tragicomedy about two transgender friends who roam the streets of Los Angeles in search of the boyfriend of one of them, who cheated on her with a natural-born woman. The film’s director, Sean Baker, was somewhat forced to shoot the film using an iPhone. He was unable to raise the funds to make the film using a set of professional cameras. Baker decided to shoot the film with an iPhone. Specifically, three iPhone model 5s. The world premiere of the film took place in January 2015, and the result exceeded perhaps Baker’s wildest expectations. The film won the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Female Supporting Actor and nominations in the categories: Best Director, Best Independent Film, and Best Female Leading Role. Tangerine also won recognition from the Academy. Although the film did not receive an Oscar nomination, the Academy officially acquired one of the three iPhones used in the film’s production and placed it in its museum.

Unsane

Are you familiar with Claire Foy? She’s the actress who played the role of the young Elizabeth II in the Netflix hit The Crown. She’s also the actress who played the lead role in the film Unsane.

Unsane is a film that keeps you in suspense until the last second. Convinced that she has a stalker, Sawyer moves to a new house and accidentally volunteers to be admitted to a psychiatric ward for 24 hours. The situation goes from bad to scary when she discovers secrets at Highland Creek Behavioral Center and quickly realizes that her stalker hasn’t given up yet.

The film premiered in 2018 at the 68th Berlin Film Festival. The psychological horror film received a positive reception. It was considered progressive and was praised for drawing attention to the dangers faced by many women in a patriarchal society. The film was shot entirely with an iPhone 7 Plus in 4K resolution using the FiLMiC Pro app.

Searching for Sugar Man

Searching for Sugar Man tells the story of musician Sixto Rodriguez and his two fans who were trying to determine what really happened to the artist, who was said to have committed suicide after or at one of his concerts in the 1970s. Rodriguez was considered by some to be better than Bob Dylan.

Searching for Sugar Man┬áis also a story of a dream lost and regained, as Rodriguez, whose music was not accepted in the states, turned out to be a big star in southern Africa. The artist has reportedly sold more records there than Elvis Presley. It’s just that Rodriguez himself was unaware of this for many years and barely made ends meet in the US. In Africa, on the other hand, it was believed that the musician was dead, as no information about Rodriguez’s life reached the country. Today, Rodriguez is experiencing a second youth and is finally fulfilling a dream, traveling and concentrating all over the world.

The film’s director, Malik Bendjelloul, decided to shoot the film on 8mm to recreate the atmosphere of that era. During production, he completely ran out of money and couldn’t afford more expensive footage. It was then that the director discovered the 8mm Vintage Camera app for the iPhone. The app imitated the look and grain of 8mm film so well that the crew continued shooting with the iPhone. The phone not only blended perfectly into the picture, but helped the film win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Uneasy Lies The Mind

Uneasy Lies The Mind is a thriller directed by Ricky Fosheim about a man who loses his mind and mental peace. The director said in an interview that he really wanted to try magic in 16mm, but lacked funds, so he decided to use an iPhone. Despite the ease of using such small equipment, Fosheim and his team encountered one unique problem while shooting in a winter location: a battery that drained very quickly in cold temperatures.

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