Though it’s now estimated that there are over 3.5 billion smartphones in the world today, each with the ability to capture a story, the Film and Television industry doesn’t seem to be harnessing this potential, with the vast majority of new releases containing no smartphone footage at all.
That said, the smartphone market is fiercely competitive and the cameras keep getting better and better. We’ve picked out 12 examples of movies, tv shows, or short films, all shot entirely on smartphones. Take a look 👀.
Unsane is a psychological thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh. Staring Claire Foy (The Crown, The Girl in the Spider’s Web), the film was shot entirely on the iPhone 7 Plus.
To celebrate the 13th generation iPhone, released in September 2019, Apple’s marketing team got together with director David Leitch to film a cinematic snowball fight Shot on the iPhone 11 Pro.
BBC freshers week
BBC3 launched an amazing new 30 minute program on iPlayer called Freshers 2018. The show documents seven students getting to grips with university life, using Seenit to bring us along for the ride. This program was made entirely using UGC content captured through Seenit and is a fascinating exploration into the future of production and the power of amplifying the voices of real people, telling their own story on their own terms.
A short film shot on the iPhone 11 Pro that gives an extraordinary insight into what a professional filmmaker can do with nothing more than an iPhone. Created by Rian Johnson (Knives Out, Looper), Paris is a travel short comprised of stunning shots of the French capital set to energetic piano music.
For this Chinese New Year, Apple partnered with award-winning director Peter Chan to create a touching film about family reunions based on a true story. The film was shot on the iPhone X.
Chinese New Year - Daughter
A film by Apple that follows three generations of Chinese women coming together at Chinese New Year. Shot on the iPhone 11 Pro and directed by Theodore Melfi.
Commissioned by Apple, Ola Cubana gives a glimpse into the Cuban surf community and a new era within the island nation. The film explores the humble beginnings of the movement and how interest in surfing is building in the country. Shot on the iPhone XS and XS Max and directed by Nick Woytuk.
Snow, Steam, Iron
Directed by Zack Snyder (300 Spartans and Keepers), Snow, Steam, Iron is a 4-minute short shot entirely on the iPhone.
Directed by Sean Baker, Tangerine was released back in July 2015. Set on Christmas Eve in Tinseltown, the iPhone short film follows Sin-Dee who embarks on a mission to get to the bottom of a scandalous rumour.
And Uneasy Lies The Mind
Uneasy Lies The Mind is the first narrative feature length movie to be shot entirely on the iPhone. With a budget of just £6,000, the film was directed by Ricky Fosheim.
I play with the phrase each other
The film follows Jake, a young neurotic, persuaded to leave his small home town and move to the city to live with his friend Sean, a fanatical poet who survives by swindling inexperienced Craigslist customers. Directed by Jay Alvarez, the film was shot on an iPhone.
Dancers of NYC
Made by Tristan Pope on the back of a successful Kickstarter project, Dancers of NYC was shot entirely on the iPhone 6. The film was a winner at the Mobil International Film Festival, The Mobile Motion Film Festival Zurich, and the Official iPhone Film Festival.
Why isn’t there more?
At a surface level, it’s understandable why smartphones aren’t used as much across film and television; something filmed on a camera worth thousands of pounds looks better than something filmed on a phone.
We hear this a lot at Seenit. “Won’t the quality be worse if it’s filmed on a phone?”, “We need our videos to look as good as they can be”. “We only film with a camera crew and proper lighting”. And that’s fair enough, your footage will probably look better but will it feel as real? Imagine a video of someone that filmed themselves alone talking about what it’s like to work at their company. Then imagine the same person being filmed in a studio, with hair and make-up, and lighting, and expensive cameras, and DOPs, and gaffers, and runners…and you get the idea. Which would feel more real? Which would feel more genuine?
The problem professionally shot video can have is it can feel staged, fake, and/or scripted. Yes, professionally shot video can look amazing, but as we’ve seen, so can content shot on smartphones.
Our view is that authenticity trumps quality and our mission is to create a more human world by enabling anyone to tell their story in the most real and impactful way.