The Use of Iphones in Filmmaking

By Kyler J. Minshull

Steven Soderbergh behind the scenes of “High Flying Bird”
Obtained from

In the last five years the use of Iphones has started to become more common in the film industry to make cheap professional looking movies. It started with 2015’s Tangerine, directed by Sean Baker, which gained acclaim at that years Sundance film festival and was noticeable for being shot entirely on three Iphones 5’s on a budget of only $100,000. The director used other DIY techniques to make his movie as cheap as possible. For example taping the Iphone to a painters pole so they could use it for high angle. The other technology in the film was kept cheap as well, they used the Filmic Pro app to control the focus of their scene and used a Moondog Lenses iphone lense for their wide angle scenes. The controversial story about two transgendered sex workers showed the world just how effective a simple Iphone can be in telling an award worthy story.

Iphone filmmakings most prominent spokesperson is currently noted director Steven Soderbergh. He has directed films such as “Oceans 11”, “Erin Brockovich” and “Magic Mike”. In 2018 he directed the feature length film “Unsane” starring Claire Foy, using just an Iphone 7 Plus. Steven Soderbergh enjoyed the experience so much that he stated from here on out he would direct with an Iphone any chance he could. He followed up this movie with the 2019 sports movie “High Flying Bird” starring Andre Holland, shot on an Iphone 8. Both these films were critically acclaimed and starred high profile actors further pushing Iphone filmmaking into the mainstream.

Of course there are some that have criticized the use of Iphones for filmmaking. Director Christopher Nolan once challenged Steven Soderbergh to go back to shooting on film. He responded that, that would be like going back to “writing scripts in pencil.” The main drawback in shooting on an Iphone is the inability to control depth of field. This has been said to create an almost “artificial” looking image. There has also been criticisms of overheating when in constant use and fast battery drain when shooting outdoors.

Time will tell if this emerging trend will stand the test of time and enter the mainstream. Though it is doubtless that if the popularity of Iphones among young people continues and if apple continues to improve their video and photo technology there will much more of these types of projects in the future.

The new Iphone 12s camera
Obtained from


Matsumoto, Neil (2016). “Down The Street”, HD Video Pro, Retrieved from

Trenholm, Richard (2019). “iPhone fan Steven Soderbergh: Shooting on film is like ‘writing in pencil”, Cnet, Retrieved from

O’falt, Chris (2019). ‘High Flying Bird’: What Soderbergh Begged Apple to Change About the iPhone, Indiewire, Retrieved from

Little known Google Apps

I have had an Android smartphone since 2011 and up until this past Saturday when my beloved LG G5 began malfunctioning. As a college student with not much extra cash to pay for my smartphone to get fixed, I was lent an older iPhone by a family member. I was missing some apps that were on my old smartphone. I wondered if the App store carried Google apps that I used beforehand and, to my surprise they did!

So, here is a brief list of some apps you should check out.  

The first one to be downloaded was Google photos. They have unlimited photo storage but there is one catch, all the photos are limited to a resolution of 16 megapixels. I only learned about this a couple of months ago, meaning I really need to go through and clean out some of the 5,000 photos I have on there.

Google Photos

Noticing the maps on the iPhone is terrible when it couldn’t find the address of a friend that had recently moved. I downloaded Google Maps and found the address right away. A neat feature that can be found is under the menu button. There is an option to click and view “your timeline”. Anytime you allowed your location to be on, Google kept track of your movements. Pick a date or time and you can see where you to travelled to on a day by day basis. Only you have access to this feature but, I’m also a little undivided on whether this is cool or scary.

Google Maps- Your timeline

Google translate was the most helpful app I have ever used. While on a recent trip, I was unsure if I would always have access to internet connection. You can download the language needed for offline use. If you find yourself in a store unable to translate the words, simply open up the app and tap camera icon, locate the text you would like to translate and the app will translate it right on the screen.

Google Translate camera option

Google Translate. Users can highlight text with their finger.


Lastly, one of the most powerful apps out there and also forgotten: Chrome remote desktop. The app allows you connect remotely to your desktop and gives access to programs and files. All that is needed is a desktop chrome extension on the computer and can be set up with a pin.

Chrome Remote Desktop

These are some of the Google apps that can be super helpful, so be sure to check them out.